Sarah Harris Fayerweather

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sarah Harris Fayerweather.jpg

Sarah Harris Fayerweather (1812–1878) was an African-American activist, abolitionist, and school integrationist. Beginning in January 1833 at the age of twenty, she attended Prudence Crandall's Canterbury Female Boarding School in Canterbury, Connecticut, considered to be the first integrated schoolhouse in the United States.[1][2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Fayerweather was born Sarah Ann Major Harris on April 16, 1812 in Norwich, Connecticut. The daughter of William Monteflora Harris and Sally Prentice Harris, both of whom were free farmers, Fayerweather was of African and French West Indian descent and the second eldest of twelve children.[4] She was raised in the Orthodox Congregational Church of Canterbury.[5]

In September 1832, Fayerweather requested admission to the Canterbury Female Boarding School. In a letter to William Lloyd Garrison’s newspaper The Liberator, Crandall recalls Fayerweather’s visit: “A colored girl of respectability – a professor of religion – and daughter of honorable parents, called on me sometime during the month of September last, and said in a very earnest manner, ‘Miss Crandall, I want to get a little more learning, enough if possible to teach colored children, and if you will admit me into your school I shall forever be under the greatest obligation to you. If you think it will be the means of injuring you, I will not insist on the favor.’”[6] After brief deliberation, Crandall admitted her to the school and refused to expel her when the parents of most of the other attendees withdrew their daughters.[7]

Faced with severe opposition from the Canterbury community, Crandall closed the existing school – only to reopen in 1833 in order to teach a group of solely African-American students. Fayerweather continued to attend the school in the face of harassment and ostracization until Crandall, afraid for her pupils’ safety after a mob converged on the school in September of 1834, closed the school permanently.[8]

Family Life[edit]

Fayerweather married George Fayerweather, Jr., a mixed-race blacksmith ten years her senior, on November 28, 1833.[9] The couple moved to New London, Connecticut in 1841 before moving to Kingston, Rhode Island, in 1855 to raise their eight children.[10] Both Fayerweather and her husband supported abolitionism and racial equality; Fayerweather joined the Kingston Anti-Slavery Society, attended antislavery meetings held by the American Anti-Slavery Society in various cities across the North, maintained a correspondence with her former teacher Prudence Crandall and former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and subscribed to The Liberator until Garrison ceased printing it in 1865.[11][12] She also maintained an active church life, joining the Sunday school class at Kingston’s Congregational church.[13]

Death[edit]

Surviving her husband by nine years, Fayerweather died on November 16, 1878 from a swelling of the neck. She was buried in the Old Fernwood Cemetery in Kingston, Rhode Island.[14]

Legacy and honors[edit]

In 1970 Fayerweather Hall, a dormitory on the campus of University of Rhode Island, was named for Sarah Harris Fayerweather.[15][16] The Fayerweather Craft Guild, located in Kingston at the site of the Fayerweather family's former home and blacksmith shop, was also named in her honor.[17]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Foner, Philip Sheldon; Pacheco, Josephine F. (1984). Three Who Dared: Prudence Crandall, Margaret Douglass, Myrtilla Miner: Champions of Antebellum Black Education. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood. p. 9. ISBN 978-0313235849. 
  2. ^ Smith, Jessie Carney (1996). Notable Black American Women. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research. p. 218. ISBN 978-0810391772. 
  3. ^ Wormley, G. Smith."Prudence Crandall", The Journal of Negro History Vol. 8, No. 1, Jan. 1923.
  4. ^ Smith, Jessie Carney (1996). Notable Black American Women. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research. p. 218. ISBN 978-0810391772. 
  5. ^ Foner, Philip Sheldon; Pacheco, Josephine F. (1984). Three Who Dared: Prudence Crandall, Margaret Douglass, Myrtilla Miner: Champions of Antebellum Black Education. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood. p. 9. ISBN 978-0313235849. 
  6. ^ Seldon, Horace; Garrison, William Lloyd. "The Liberator". The Liberator Files. Retrieved 22 February 2016. 
  7. ^ Foner, Philip Sheldon; Pacheco, Josephine F. (1984). Three Who Dared: Prudence Crandall, Margaret Douglass, Myrtilla Miner: Champions of Antebellum Black Education. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood. p. 9. ISBN 978-0313235849. 
  8. ^ Smith, Jessie Carney (1996). Notable Black American Women. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research. p. 220. ISBN 978-0810391772. 
  9. ^ Smith, Jessie Carney (1996). Notable Black American Women. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research. p. 220. ISBN 978-0810391772. 
  10. ^ Smith, Jessie Carney (1996). Notable Black American Women. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research. p. 220. ISBN 978-0810391772. 
  11. ^ Smith, Jessie Carney (1996). Notable Black American Women. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research. p. 220. ISBN 978-0810391772. 
  12. ^ Van Broekhoven, Deborah Bingham (2002). The Devotion of These Women: Rhode Island in the Antislavery Network. Boston, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press. p. 90. ISBN 978-1558497993. 
  13. ^ Smith, Jessie Carney (1996). Notable Black American Women. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research. p. 220. ISBN 978-0810391772. 
  14. ^ Smith, Jessie Carney (1996). Notable Black American Women. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research. p. 220. ISBN 978-0810391772. 
  15. ^ "University of Rhode Island History and Timeline". University of Rhode Island. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  16. ^ "URI RESIDENTIAL COMPLEX". University of Rhode Island. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  17. ^ Smith, Jessie Carney (1996). Notable Black American Women. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research. p. 221. ISBN 978-0810391772.