Chapter Five continued...
Urgently, he and other postmillenialists began preaching that Christ would return to earth once all peoples in all nations were converted to the gospel. Evangelical Protestants, including Thomas Gallaudet, fervently believed they could hasten Christ's Second Coming by converting every heathen to Christianity.
Nowhere is his acceptance of postmillennialism more obvious than in the sermon that Reverend Gallaudet delivered in 1817, upon the opening of the American Asylum. He assured his audience:
"Every charitable effort, conducted upon Christian principles ... forms a part of the great system of doing good, and looks forward to that delightful day when the earth shall be filled with righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.... While, therefore, my hearers, I would endeavor to excite an interest in your hearts in behalf of our infant establishment, by portraying its advantages ... permit me to place before you the purest and noblest motive of all, in this and in every charitable exertion - the tendency it will have to promote the welfare of the Redeemer's kingdom."
Gallaudet anticipated that deaf individuals who converted to Christianity because of what they learned at the American Asylum would advance the approaching millennium. Back to the Book.
At the time of publication, Phyllis Valentine was a doctoral candidate in American social history at the University of Connecticut. Her dissertation discusses the evolution of the American School for the Deaf during the nineteenth century. She also explored this theme in "A Nineteenth-Century Experiment in Education of the Handicapped: The American Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb," published in the New England Quarterly in 1991.