"That kind of education astonished me more than any-thing I ever saw" -Davy Crockett
By Davy Crockett and Richard Penn Smith, published by Citadel Press, New York, 1955.
Excerpt from Chapter 19, "I Am Welcomed in Boston":
Now it was not that I met a blind boy in Tremont house that was any curiosity, but it was his errand. He inquired of the barkeeper for me, as I was standing by him, and said he was sent by the teacher of the blind, to invite me to visit the institution, and that he would show me the way. I was told by the gentlemen present that he could go all over Boston. A gentleman accompanied me, and we went on till we came to a fine house where the institution was kept. We went, and were introduced to the teacher. He asked me if I wished to hear some of them read. I said I did, and he ordered a little girl, perhaps ten or twelve years old, to get her book, asked her to find a certain chapter in the Old Testament, and read it. She took up the book and felt with her fingers until she found it. He then told her to read, and she did so, with a clear, distinct voice. This was truly astonishing; but on examining their books I found that the letters were stamped on the under side of the paper, so as to raise them above the surface of the upper side; and such was the keenness of their touch that, by passing the end of the finger over the word, it served them for sight, and they pronounced the word. There was a little boy learning to cipher in the same way. The teacher put several questions to him aloud; and putting his fingers together and working with them for a short time, he answered all the questions correctly.
That kind of education astonished me more than any-thing I ever saw. There were a great many of them. Some were learning to play on the piano-forte; and many of them were busy making pretty little baskets, such as are carried by the ladies.
They asked me if I would like to hear them sing; and telling them it would please me very much, a number of them came up, and some had musical instruments; one had a large thing which I never saw before, nor did I ask the name; one had a clarionet, and one had a flute. They played and sung together beautifully, and, indeed, I never saw happier people in my life. I remained some time with them going over the establishment. This is the house that I mentioned before was given by Colonel Perkins to the blind. There is not such a grand house owned by any person in Washington. What a satisfaction it must be to this old gentleman and others who have helped these unfortunates, to see them surrounded with so many com- forts!*
* Colonel Thomas Handaside Perkins [sic] was one of the "merchant princes" of Boston. The property which he gave to the Asylum for the Blind, was valued at fifty thousand dollars; and it was given on condition that the citizens of Boston should raise by subscription fifty thousand dollars in thirty days, to be given to the Asylum, which condition was promptly complied with [Editor's note].