PART 3 – Continuation – bold & blue added by me –
1880: The National Association of the Deaf Founded
The Genesis of the National Association
By George William Veditz
From: Deaf-Mutes Journal
Genesis of the National Assoication. Deaf Mutes Journal 1933, 62 (22) June 1.
to see Part 2
Cincinnati, Ohio and Syracuse, N.Y., offered to serve as host of the convention, and the rivalry was great. It was decided to call a mail vote with Hodgson as election commissioner and January 1st 1880, fixed upon as the time limit. With the arrival of January 1st, no more votes were accepted. My own ballot went to Cincinnati as more likely to induce a really national attendance. The vote was as close as it possibly could have been short of a tie, Cincinnati winning by 216 to 215 ballots, with 27 scattering. This meant that there were 458 deaf persons in all parts of the country interested enough to record their preference and to invest in the necessary two-cent stamp. The result was announced in an editorial in the Journal of January 15, 1880.
It was an auspicious beginning. Hodgson sat back, waiting for things to happen. Nothing happened. The newly launched ship of state was without breath or motion, as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean. Then the hair on Hodgson’s nape began to bristle. He unlimbered his heavy artillery and with one hand on the tiller of the national ship with the other he fired thundering editorials in his issues of January 22nd and 29th, February 26th, March 18th, and April 26th. He was thoroughly in earnest and in his issue of May 13th, he wrote: * * * “We think it is time for Mr. McGregor to say something, as he is looked to as the representative of the city in which the convention is designed to be held.”
This Parthian shot caught Rob Roy amid-ships, and in a communication in the issue of May 20th, he consented to head a local committee, the others being J.K.T. Hoagland, of Kentucky, and Alfred Flynn Wood, of Ohio. Some Cincinnati deaf-mutes also announced themselves as a local committee, but were promptly silenced by an editorial in the JOURNAL in which Hodgson announced that he would recognize only McGregor and his two associates. The velvet gauntlet hid a fist of steel.
I trust that Mr. Hodgson will be present when this address is read, and I would respectfully suggest that the entire convention then assembled in New York will rise to its feet and render to the father and founder of the National Association of the American Deaf the tribute of salute and cheer he so well deserves:
Hail to the chief who in triumph advances!
Honored and blessed be the ever green pine
Long may the Journal in his banner that glances,
Flourish the shelter and shield our line!
There were mighty men of valor to follow the leader. Henry C. Rider, of Mexico, N.Y., and Philip A. Emery, of Chicago, were stalwarts of the stalwart who never swerved. Rob Roy McGregor, who feared nothing that could wield a pen, was in the thick of the battle once his claymore was unsheathed. The gigantic Edmund Booth, Dudley Webster George, and others aided actively, and at length the convention was scheduled for three days the last week in August. It opened on Wednesday, August 25th, in the Bellevue House, Cincinnati, and the long fight was won.
This convention has a significance possessed by no other conclave of the American deaf. It was the FIRST great meeting of the class to be absolutely independent of leading strings held in other hands than their own. No superintendent or principal, no hearing teacher, had anything to do either with its program or arrangements. It was even regarded as unnecessary to provide interpreters. The members came, some from long distances, and instead of camping at some school, paid their hotel and transportation bills and possessed a new sense of independence, well-being and importance and of sufficiency unto themselves. There were eighty-one deaf men and women enrolled, representing twenty-two states and the Federal District. Several who figured actively in the proceedings were not named in the roster, as for instance A.B. Greener and Robert Patterson of Ohio, and J.K.T. Hoagland of Kentucky. The home state of the convention, as always the case had the largest membership, twenty-three. Illinois had fourteen, New York, seven; Indiana, three; Pennsylvania, two. Kansas and Nebraska were furthest west, Louisiana and Mississippi furthest south. Massachusetts was the only New England State represented with three members led by the jumping jack of the convention, the irrepressible Harry White.
They were an earnest band there gathered, as earnest in their way as were the men and women who 260 years before landed on Plymouth Rock. Like those Pilgrims they wanted freedom—freedom from repression, from popular prejudice and misrepresentation, freedom to strive for and hold their own in the struggle for happiness as it is held out to every American. They wanted something as yet indefinite and obscure, and, without precedent to guide them, they were bound to find it.
It was Napoleon who said that the destinies of any nation are decided by the opinions of its young men around five-and-twenty. One of the amazing things about the first national convention of the deaf is the youthfulness of its leaders. Thomas Francis Fox was the youngest of the band, not quite twenty. Hodgson, our sage Ulysses, was twenty-five, as were Dudley Webster George, Samuel Mills Freeman and Lars M. Larson. George T. Dougherty and Charles Warren Carraway were twenty-one. Harry White was twenty-three, having just taken his degree at Gallaudet. Rob Roy and his compatriots, Patterson and Greener, were around thirty. Most of the rest were of the same youthful age. The patriarch of the meeting was Mr. William Hoagland, seventy-five. Edmund Booth, born the same year as Lincoln, was seventy-one. It is worthy of note that these young men who dominated the first convention dominated every later convention of the Association that they attended. At this writing, seven only, that I know of, are still with us—Hodgson, Fox, Dougherty, Greener, Patterson, Freeman, and Mrs. D. W. George. Sic transit gloria mundi! (added here now = “Thus passes the glory of the world”. )
The papers and deliberations of that convention give it rank as one of the best the American deaf have held anywhere at anytime. I am singling out one only for mention because of its title—“Importance of Association among MUTES for Mutual Improvement,” by my good friend, Theodore A. Froehlich, of New York, deceased. The deaf of that day were not prigs or prudes in referring to their class and did not try to camouflage our handicap. For a fact, the official title of the Cincinnati convention, as well as that of New York three years later in 1883, was “National Convention of Deaf-Mutes.” And that’s that. If oral magicians who yank educational rabbits out of silk hats and pearls of speech out of the mouths of those who have never heard, choke over it, why bless ’em! In Cincinnati the designations mutes and deaf-mutes were freely used by superb speakers and lip-readers like Booth, Hodgson, and McGregor, though even then speech and lip-reading were taught in all our schools. The oral purist had not then come into his own.