Prudence—not a common word in today’s culture, yet a word all can live by and see good days. Prudence is caution, the ability to foresee and avoid an evil thing. It was a word so valued in early American life that is became a popular girl’s name during the 17th and 18th centuries when a baby girl was born to a farmer named Pardon Crandall in 1803.
Prudence Crandall was well educated from her early days, always wanting the same for other young girls. At age 28, she opened a private academy for girls, teaching those from the wealthiest families in town during that first year. Then, in 1832, Prudence accepted into her school a young African American girl named Sarah. Teacher Prudence was met with threats and demands that she change her standard for inclusion—she refused. Eventually, she had to close her school due to the threat of harm to her young charges. Yet her influence in their lives remained.
She married a minister and moved with him to the prairie land of Illinois where she opened another school and became a suffragette, she would later be named state heroine of Connecticut, the state where her first school attended by young Sarah had been located.
Prudence Crandall saw the evil of separation, of a lesser-than mindset, and she stood against that evil by offering an education to any young woman in her area seeking to learn. When the threats against those young women became too much, she was willing to put her fight aside to protect them from harm. Her name had suited her well.
Proverbs has much to say about prudence. As wisdom calls out in the streets in the book of Proverbs, it beckons the wise to listen and be aware, using caution in every choice and learning to spot evil ahead of time. Many a life has been saved by heeding this warning from God:
A prudent and far-sighted person sees the evil [of sin] and hides himself [from it],
But the naive continue on and are punished [by suffering the consequences of sin]. Proverbs 22:3
Be wise. For the sake of both physical and spiritual well being , include prudence in your modern vocabulary!