Laurent Clerc, a deaf mute, one of the founders and teachers of the asylum for the deaf and dumb at Hartford, Conn., born at La Balme, department of Isere, France, Dec. 20, 1785, died in Hartford, July 18, 1869. In his infancy he fell into the fire, when his head and face were badly burned, and his parents attributed the loss of hearing and smell to this misfortune. At the age of 12 his uncle took him to Paris, and placed him in the institution for the deaf and dumb. The abbe Sicard, though nominally its director, was then in prison for his alleged hostility to the republic; but Jean Massieu, himself a deaf mute, became his teacher till the release of Sicard, when he became a favorite pupil of the abbe, and made such rapid progress that in 1805, after eight years' instruction, he was appointed tutor, and in 1806 a salaried teacher. His aptitude for teaching was such that in a few years the abbe confided to his charge the highest class in the institution, which he taught with great success. In 1815, while on a visit to England, he formed the acquaintance of the Rev. Dr. Gallaudet, whom he accompanied in 1816 to the United States. In 1817 they opened the American asylum for the deaf and dumb at Hartford, and Clerc contributed much to the success of this institution, from which he retired on a pension in 1858, after having been a teacher of deaf mutes for more than 50 years.
The greater part of the teachers sent to other institutions for the deaf and dumb from this asylum received their training at his hands. He married in 1819 Miss Boardman, a pupil of the asylum, and like himself a deaf mute. Their children all speak and hear. The eldest son became an Episcopal clergyman.