Noyes Academy was an interracial school founded by New England abolitionists in 1835 in Canaan, New Hampshire, United States. The school was unpopular with many local residents, who opposed having blacks in the town. After some months, several hundred white men of Canaan and neighboring towns demolished the academy. They replaced it with Canaan Union Academy, restricted to whites, which operated for 20 years.
The Noyes Academy was organized by New England men sympathetic to the anti-slavery movement, including attorney George Kimball of Canaan, New Hampshire and Samuel Edmund Sewall of Boston. It was built in Kimball's town, located about 20 miles (32 km) from Dartmouth College in Hanover. Slavery persisted north of the Mason-Dixon Line until the 1840s, but most enslaved people had been emancipated by the end of the second decade of the 19th century.
The demand was growing for educational facilities open to African Americans, as many schools were segregated at a time when public education was expanding. Kimball noted,
"It is unhappily true that the colored portion of our fellow citizens, even in the free States, while their toil and blood have contributed to establish, and their taxes equally with those of whites, to maintain our free system of Education, have practically been excluded from the benefits of it."
Trustees and donors to the school agreed to have an interracial student body, announcing it in a February 1835 issue of The Liberator newspaper in Boston. The school opened with 28 white and 17 African-American students. The white students were generally from local families, but many of the black students had traveled from as far as New York City to attend the academy, because of limited educational opportunities elsewhere. They often had to travel on segregated steamboats and other transportation. Several future prominent African-American abolitionists, such as Henry Highland Garnet, Thomas Paul, Jr. and Alexander Crummell, attended the school during the several months that it was open. Garnet and some other students boarded with Kimball.
Many local residents objected to allowing blacks into the town to attend the academy, which they called a "nuisance" in a town meeting. "Segregationists launched a campaign to discredit school officials and cultivate hysteria over the possibility of interracial marriage and racial mixing." Opponents of the school organized a group of 500 men; in August 1835, they used 95 oxen teams to pull the building off its foundations over the course of two days, and haul much of the wreckage to a swamp. They burned the remains.
Kimball helped the black students leave at night for their safety. He shortly followed them, moving to Alton, Illinois, located on the Mississippi River. It became a center for abolitionist activity in the Midwest. The Canaan Union Academy, restricted to whites, was built and operated on the New Hampshire site for about 20 years. Shortly before the Civil War, it was used as a station on the Underground Railroad.
- Child, Hamilton (1886). Gazetteer of Grafton County, N. H. 1709-1886. Syracuse, New York. pp. 73, 233–234.
- Tiffany, Nina Moore (1898). Samuel E. Sewall: A Memoir. Houghton, Mifflin and Company. p. 43.
- Hilary J. Moss, Schooling Citizens: The Struggle for African American Education in Antebellum America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), pp. 1-3
- 1831-1865 "Noyes Academy open to all w/o distinction of color", The Liberator, 28 February 1835, at The Liberator Files
- Genevieve Haas, "The brief, but courageous life of Noyes Academy", Dartmouth Life, December 2005
- Genevieve Haas, "The brief, but courageous life of Noyes Academy", Dartmouth Life, February 2005
- The Liberator Files, website with transcribed articles and related materials from The Liberator newspaper
- Lecture on Noyes Academy
- Emeline Cheney, The Story of the Life and Work of Oren B. Cheney (Boston: Morning Star Publishing, 1907).
- Hilary J. Moss, Schooling Citizens: The Struggle for African American Education in Antebellum America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010).