Contract Between Thomas Gallaudet And Laurent Clerc:   June 13, 1816

Introduction: Thomas Gallaudet, a Congregationalist minister, and Laurent Clerc, a French Roman Catholic, formed a partnership to establish an institution of deaf education. This partnership was formalized in the following contract, written before Clerc traversed the Atlantic with Gallaudet. One important aspect of their contract pertained to their religious differences.

Abridged Text

The undersigned, Thomas H. Gallaudet, a citizen of the United States of America, of the first part, and Laurent Clerc, professor in the Royal Institution for Deaf-Mutes, [View Annotation Text Below – 1 »] situated at Paris, where he resides, of the second part, do make the following contract:

ARTICLE 1. Mr. Clerc engages to take up his residence during the space of three years, to date from the day of his arrival at Hartford, in the Institution for Deaf-Mutes which Mr. Gallaudet proposes to establish in the United States of America.

ART. 2. Under the direction of the head of the Institution, Mr. Clerc shall be employed in the instruction of deaf-mutes for six hours of each day except Saturday, on which day the time shall be but for three hours. He shall be entirely at liberty on Sundays and on holidays, and he shall have, moreover, six weeks of vacation annually. All these exceptions shall be made without any deduction in the pecuniary compensation below specified. [View Annotation Text Below – 2 »]

ART. 3. He shall be present and assist at all the public lectures, [View Annotation Text Below – 3 »] as well at Hartford as in other cities of the United States, always being under the direction of the head of the Institution; and, in case of removal, every expense whatever to which the change may give rise is to be at Mr. Gallaudet’s charge without appeal.

ART. 4. Mr. Clerc shall have no connection whatever with any other establishment, and shall give no instruction or public lectures, (this stipulation not conflicting with that contained in Art. 5,) except under the direction of Mr. Gallaudet. This restriction shall remain in force only for the duration of three years; which limit having expired, Mr. Clerc shall no longer be bound by these engagements, and shall have the right, according to his own judgment and wherever he shall desire it, to continue the work of deaf-mute instruction, publicly or privately, under his own direction or in any other manner; this being a particular and indispensable condition of the present agreement.

ART. 5. Mr. Clerc shall have the privilege of giving private lessons, in his own room or in the town, during the hours that he is not occupied with his class.

ART. 6. Mr. Gallaudet pledges himself to defray all Mr. Clerc’s travelling expenses from Paris to Hartford, viz., for food, lodging, washing, and transportation for himself and his effects, by land and water; and this to the same extent and in the same manner as Mr. Gallaudet’s own expenses.

ART. 7. From the day of his arrival in Hartford, Mr. Clerc shall be given apartments near the Institution until further arrangements are made. He shall take his meals at the table of Mr. Gallaudet; and shall also have provision made for his washing, fires, lights, and attendance.

ART. 8. In consideration of the engagements above stipulated, Mr. Gallaudet promises and binds himself to pay to Mr. Clerc at Hartford, as his annual salary, two thousand five hundred francs (argent de France) in quarterly instalments; the first quarter to date from the day of his arrival in Hartford.

ART. 9. At the expiration of three years, if Mr. Clerc desires to return to France, Mr. Gallaudet shall pay to him before his departure, to indemnify him for the expense of going back, the sum of one thousand five hundred francs, in addition to what has already been promised.

ART. 10. It is agreed, moreover, that in case Mr. Clerc is obliged, by circumstances beyond his own control, to leave America, and in consequence to give up the work of instruction there, these articles of agreement are to be considered void and of no effect. But Mr. Clerc shall still have a legal right — 1st, to the indemnity of fifteen hundred francs above stipulated, even though the period of three years shall not have expired; 2nd, to the promised compensation at the rate of twenty-five hundred francs per year for whatever time may have already elapsed.

ART. 11. Mr. Clerc shall endeavor to give his pupils a knowledge of grammar, language, arithmetic, the globe, geography, history; of the Old Testament as contained in the Bible, and the New Testament, including the life of Jesus Christ, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles of St. Paul, St. John, St. Peter, and St. Jude. He is not to be called upon to teach anything contrary to the Roman Catholic religion which he professes, and in which faith he desires to live and die. Mr. Gallaudet, as head of the Institution, will take charge of all matters of religious teaching which may not be in accordance with this faith.

To these presents bear witness Messrs. Jean Conrad Hottinguer, banker, No. 20 Rue du Sentier, Paris, and Sampson Vryling Stoddard Wilder, an American merchant, now in Paris, No. 1 Rue du Sentier; who, after having acquainted themselves with the articles of agreement above stipulated, have voluntarily declared that they each and jointly constitute themselves sureties of Mr. Gallaudet on account of his engagements to Mr. Clerc as stated in the above contract; and in case of failure by Mr. Gallaudet to fulfil them punctually, they pledge themselves, singly and conjointly, to pay to Mr. Clerc at his new place of residence the promised amounts in the sums and at the times previously fixed upon.

Thus contracted, finished, and signed at Paris, the thirteenth day of June, one thousand eight hundred and sixteen.

-Signed and sealed-






 Annotation 1.     This was the institution directed by Abbé Roch Ambroise Sicard.

 Annotation 2.     In other words, his vacation time would not be subtracted from his pay.

Annotation 3.     Galluadet and Clerc, in their promotion of the institution, traveled extensively and frequently demonstrated sign language to American audiences.

Source: American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb, Publisher: Convention of American Instructors of the Deaf. Disability History Museum, (January 27, 2014).


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