The Canterbury Female Boarding School, a private academy for young women, opened in 1831. A year later, when headmistress Prudence Crandall agreed to admit an African-American student named Sarah Harris, local parents withdrew their daughters.
Crandall saved the school by recruiting other “young ladies of color” from as far away as Boston and New York City. Despite a town boycott—and the passage of a state law prohibiting African Americans from coming into Connecticut to attend school without prior written approval of the town—Crandall continued to teach minority students. She was arrested in 1833 and endured several trials which were dismissed on a technicality. An angry mob broke the first-floor windows and the school closed in September 1834. Canterbury became a landmark in the national debate over abolition and equal access to educational opportunities.