What was Noyes Academy? It was an interracial school. Founded in 1835, in Canaan, New Hampshire, United States. The Noyes Academy was organized by New England men, who were sympathetic to the anti-slavery movement, including an European American attorney George Kimball of New Hampshire. The men purpose for the academy was to offer classical, and formal education that was only available to affluent whites, to all races. They believe that all people had the rights as whites to formal education. The academy had several abolitionist on its board of trustees, and which they took a vote and admitted all qualified applicants regardless of race and color.
The academy attracted Black Americans from northern states, including several who later became prominent black leaders such as, Henry Highland Garnet (December 23, 1815 – February 13, 1882), Alexander Crummell (March 3, 1819 – September 10, 1898), Thomas Paul Jr., and Thomas S. Sidney. Black students travelled from as far as New York City to attend the academy, because their states had limited educational opportunities. The Blacks often had to travel on segregated steamboats, because they could not ride in the cabins. They were force to sleep in the bilges, but the black travelers saw this as a sacrifice for education.
The Noyes Academy opened with 28 white and 17 Black American students. The whites that attended were generally from local white families. Within months of the academy being open, the locals began to attack the school and its founders true intentions. They began to object to allowing blacks into the town to attend the academy. The mixing for black and white youths set off a series of rumors through the town, and on July 31, they held a Towns Meeting, at which the locals was to vote on the removal of the school. At the meeting the talk was “Blacks would overrun Canaan; fugitive slaves would line the streets with their huts and burden the town with paupers and vagabonds; the school would become a public nuisance.” and hysteria over the possibility of interracial marriage and racial mixing. The local newspaper ran articles warning about young black men arm in arm with white women.
In August of 1835, hundreds of men from Canaan and surrounding towns, launched an assault on the Noyes Academy. They arrived with 90 oxen, ropes and chains. Working in shifts, they eventually set the school ablaze, and over the course of two days, they physically dragged the schoolhouse off of its foundation and dragged much of the wreckage into the swamp, permanently destroying the school. The students watched from the homes of the local townspeople with whom they boarded. After destroying the school, the mob threatened the students and the people sheltering them by firing cannons at the homes. No one was injured.
Kimball helped the black students leave at night for their safety. He shortly followed them, moving to Alton, Illinois, located on the Mississippi River.