Gallaudet was a neighbor of Mason Fitch Cogswell. Cogswell had taken interest in deaf education due to the deafness of his daughter, Alice, and the fact that there were no schools for the deaf in the United States at that time. As his neighbor and friend, Gallaudet became equally concerned for this cause.
I am quite worried about alice is there no school for the deaf in america?
The two men gathered support from their friends, wealthy members of their community, and the city fathers. In due time, Gallaudet was sent by their supporters to travel in Europe to learn about teaching methods for the deaf.
we're sending you to Europe to learn about teaching methods for the deaf.
I am Thomas Gallaudet how do you do?
In addition to his classes with Sicard, Massieu, and Clerc, Gallaudet was also given private lessons by Clerc. Gallaudet was so impressed by Clerc that he invited this "master teacher" to go to America and help him establish a school for the deaf there.
I am Laurent Clerc it's a pleasure
Clerc and Gallaudet left for America on board the ship Mary Augusta on June 18, 1816. The voyage lasted fifty-two days. Clerc used that time to teach Gallaudet "the method of the signs for abstract ideas." In return, he received tutoring in the English language from Gallaudet (Clerc already had a "considerable skill" in writing in English, as evidenced by his writing his journal entirely in English during this voyage). He also brought with him a French-English dictionary which was written by Massieu and published in 1808.
In a great show of support, the Connecticut General Assembly made history by voting an additional $5,000 for the school - the first appropriation ever for the education of handicapped people.
On April 15, 1817, rented rooms made up their school which opened with seven students - Alice Cogswell being the first to enroll. It was originally called the Connecticut Asylum at Hartford for the Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons (now the American School for the Deaf). Gallaudet was the principal, and Clerc was the head teacher. A year later, poor and uneducated students filled the school. They ranged from 10 to 51 years of age.