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The History of
Gallaudet University: 150 Years of a Deaf American Institution|
they must be discharged, as is usual in the state schools for the deaf. So with our pupils in the District of
Columbia we had the material for beginning a college, and we
were authorized to keep them as beneficiaries of the
government as long as we could teach them anything.
Thus without intending to do so, Mr. Kendall had
secured a very important provision of law for the
starting, at least, of a college for the deaf.5|
Early in 1864, EMG drafted a bill granting the Institution the authority to confer collegiate degrees, and he began working with Senator James W. Grimes of Iowa to enable its passage. The law passed without significant opposition in both houses of Congress, and was signed by President Lincoln on April 8, 1864. After talking to Kendall, EMG became convinced that Kendall was not upset about not being consulted.
When Mr. Kendall learned of the passage of the bill
authorizing us to confer degrees, he was pleased but
remarked that he hoped I was not going too fast. My
reply was, “You must remember Mr. Kendall, I am here
to get upstream and move forward; if you think my rate
of speed too high, you must put on the brakes…..” He
laughed and told me that he believed he could trust me.
And it was not long before he proved his confidence in
me by a proposal that surprised me beyond measure.
It was soon decided by the [board of] directors to
inaugurate a collegiate department with suitable public
exercises, and Mr. Kendall informed me that he wished
to have me inaugurated on this occasion as president of
the institution in all its departments, including the
corporation and the Board of Directors.6
It was soon decided by the [board of] directors to inaugurate a collegiate department with suitable public exercises, and Mr. Kendall informed me that he wished to have me inaugurated on this occasion as president of the institution in all its departments, including the corporation and the Board of Directors.6
The Inauguration and Organization of the College for the Deaf
On June 28, 1864, the College for the Deaf and Dumb (within the corporate structure of the Columbia Institution) was inaugurated with due pomp and circumstance. Many speakers addressed the crowd, including EMG and Kendall; Congressman James Patterson from New Hampshire; the legendary Laurent Clerc; John Carlin, a well-known deaf poet and artist who had advocated for the establishment of a
James W. Grimes, a Republican senator from Iowa (1859–1869), chaired the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia from 1861 to 1865. In March of 1864, EMG sought his assistance in presenting a bill to the Senate that gave the Columbia Institution the authority to confer collegiate degrees. With Grimes’s support, the bill passed, and President Lincoln signed it into law on April 8, 1864.Soon after assuming the duties of superintendent of the Columbia Institution, EMG became convinced that the establishment of a college for the deaf was possible on Kendall Green, but he knew that federal legislation would be necessary. He began making plans to seek passage of the legislation without first consulting his friend and mentor, Amos Kendall, who was still president of the corporation. EMG described his actions as follows:
By what seemed a special providence, Mr. Kendall, in drafting the Act of Incorporation [in 1857], provided for the admission of deaf and blind children “of teachable age” as beneficiaries of the United States in the institution but set no limit of time or age at which