Chapter Five continued...
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Even abolitionists had trouble treating uneducated blacks as social equals. Jacksonian or Whig, Federalist or Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican, all endorsed paternalism. Both President Andrew Jackson and President John Quincy Adams's secretary of war, P. B. Porter, equated Indians with children. As they became more helpless, Porter explained, "it would seem to be not only the right but the duty of the government to take them under its parental care." Finally, in an extreme statement of paternalism, Henry Clay, Whig presidential candidate, declared that "the entire American people are entitled to the care of a paternal government."

Thomas Gallaudet had many reasons to believe that paternalism was an appropriate ideological approach to uneducated and unchurched deaf people. These included his family's social status as old-line Connecticut gentry; a concept of Christian benevolence toward less fortunate human beings that he learned from Timothy Dwight, president of Yale during Gallaudet's undergraduate years; a passion for missionary work among "heathens" that he acquired during clerical studies at Andover Seminary; the postmillennial evangelical fervor engendered by the Second Great Awakening, which influenced his life; and finally, the social elitism endorsed by other New England Whigs who shared his world view.

Gallaudet was the oldest in a family of fifth-generation descendants of Thomas Hooker, a Puritan divine who had led pioneers out of Massachusetts Bay to found the colony of Connecticut. These credentials established a place for him among the early republic's gentry class. In the early nineteenth century, Americans were beginning to move toward a more egalitarian, democratic society with an expanded political franchise that included most males, regardless of their class origins. But in New England, and Connecticut in particular, democratization moved more slowly than farther west, and society remained more hierarchical. In Connecticut's colonial past, Gallaudet's family background would have guaranteed him a position in the standing order - that older ruling class of magistrates, merchants, and clergymen - to whom the lower social orders had routinely deferred.

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