Thomas Gallaudet: The First School For The Deaf

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Thomas Gallaudet was an amazing individual who changed the way America saw and taught the deaf. His whole life, Thomas battled an illness that constantly interfered with his life goals. This led him down many paths before he found his passion for helping the deaf to learn to communicate. With the help of Laurent Clerc, he began the first school for the deaf in the United States permanently changing the world for deaf people.
Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet was born on December 10, 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents were Peter Wallace Gallaudet and Jane “Jeannette” Hopkins Gallaudet. He was the oldest of twelve children. Even though Thomas was the oldest child, he was the smallest. From birth, Thomas had a sickness which led to him having restrictions on his bodily abilities. Regardless of his physical illness, he did not let that stop him. His parents moved to Hartford, Connecticut, the birthplace of his mother’s parents when Thomas was thirteen
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They named the school the American Asylum for the Education and Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb. The school would keep this name until 1895, when it would become the American School for the Deaf (ASD). Thomas became the principal of the school, though both he and Laurent taught at the school. Alice Cogswell was the first student of six to attend the school, which would continue to grow in size. Thomas fell in love with one of his students whose name was Sophia Fowler. In 1821, they were married and together they had eight children. One of their children, Edward Gallaudet, would go on to found the first university for the deaf, which today is known as the Gallaudet University. Thomas retired as principal in 1830. After he retired, he dedicated his time to preaching and writing many children’s books. He also spent his time helping to further deaf education. Sadly, Thomas passed away on September 10, 1851 at the age of