Northern Approaches to Education in the South at the War's End



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As the war came to a close, freedmen's aid societies had to find ways to adapt to the challenges posed by: competition among benevolent organizations; dwindling donations; the question of aid for Southern whites; the debate over integrated education; the emergence of the freedmen's bureau; and the emergence of new national organizations. In order to cope with the changing times, the New England Educational Association merged in 1865 with a number of other aid organizations to form the American Union Commission.

The AUC was dedicated to promoting "the industrial, social, intellectual, moral, and religious improvement of persons released from slavery, and of other needy persons in the Southern States." In other words, it shifted the focus of the freedmen's aid movement from support for African-Americans to support for all those in the South. Members of the AUC joined with Southern leaders to use sentimental rhetoric to solicit aid for white Southerners.

Many of the teachers who worked for the New England Educational Association, however, feared that the expenditure of resources on whites would lead the organization to neglect blacks, and particularly the education of African-Americans. Their fears seem to have been realized when some of the schools operated by the American Union Commission established segregated classes.

African-Americans continued to seek out opportunities for learning after the war, with some of them pursuing advanced education at such institutions as Oberlin and Hampton. However, even schools founded specifically to train African-American teachers and ministers sometimes suffered from the same racial stereotypes that had existed before the war.


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Changing Circumstance of Freedmen's Education at the War's End


The fact that the Union emerged victorious in the war did not necessarily make the task of freedmen's aid societies any easier. In fact, in many respects the work of freedmen's teachers became more difficult in the post-war years.

Most aid organizations had enjoyed some special privileges while the war was taking place, as the union army typically assigned freedmen's teachers buildings owned by confederates for use as dwellings and schoolhouses during the occupation. After the war, most of that property reverted back to the control of its original owners. For example, here is how an article in The Freedmen's Record described the circumstances in Norfolk in the first year of peace.

We have fourteen teachers in Norfolk and its vicinity. The work here is under the care of Captain Brown who conducts it in a liberal and acceptable manner. The schools have been, for a few weeks past, disturbed by the establishment of the public schools for whites, which occupy the houses formerly devoted to our use. Temporary accommodations have been provided, and we hope the schools will soon go on as well as before. We should cheerfully bear even greater inconvenience for the sake of so great a benefit as education for the degraded and ignorant whites of Virginia. The Misses Chase and Miss Chace have been engaged in caring for the general wants of the people, distributing clothing, and using all means to elevate and civilize them. Evening and sewing schools are maintained in which all the teachers give their assistance.

--"Report of the Committee on Teachers," The Freedmen's Record, April, 1865

 

With the conclusion of the war, monetary support freedmen's aid society began to dwindle.Competition for donors among the various aid societies was fierce, and in fact, this fighting among organizations may have caused some supporters to turn their attention to other causes.

Compassion-fatigue and war-wearniness may have led some Northerners to turn their attention to peacetime pursuits, while others in the North found new subjects of sympathy closer to home, including recently returned veterans.

Left: "The Soldier's Messenger Corps," Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, November 4, 1865

In the image below on the right, note the central position given the image of the soldier with the missing leg. Immediately behind him stands a soldier with one empty sleeve. In both cases, concerned wives look on. The fact that the column is led by a pair of woman leads the viewer to wonder about the possible absence in the family of a missing husband, father, or sweetheart because of the war.


Above left: "Thanksgiving Day--Hanging Up the Musket," Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, December 23, 1865, 216. Above right:"Thanksgiving Day, The Church Porch," Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, December 23, 1865, 217


Never before, since we have had a record of great nations, has one year made so great a difference in their status of happiness as that of the past twelve months in the welfare, prosperity and cause of thankfulness of this country. One year ago we were engaged in a fierce and bloody war, without any knowledge among the people of where it would end, or in what condition the country would emerge. Now we have peace smiling over all the land, and its promise for many years to come. We have hundreds of thousands of soldiers emancipated from the field of arms to the field of labor, and from Sate to State goes up the hum of reconciliation, and a desire for renewed exertion and consequent prosperity. The lands devastated by the tramp of armies, and the homes laid waste by the invader of either side are once more being brought back to the standard they held five years ago. Hearths that have lost one kind familiar face, one that perhaps lies far away under the mould of some Southern battle-field, strive to close up the gap, and without forgetting the loved one, give thanks that, since he was taken, he should be taken in so good a cause.

A stranger coming among us would hardly believe, looking at our wealth, prosperity and happiness, that but a few months had elapsed since the most terrible war of the last thousand years has just closed; that thousands of miles of territory have been despoiled, and hundreds of thousands of territory have been despoiled, and hundreds of thousands of lives sacrificed. And yet in the face of this we have great cause for thankfulness. We are overburdened with natural wealth.

We have national recuperative power beyond telling, and we are, as a people, determined upon the ultimate greatness of the nation, and that is the grand secret of all our success.. . .

Our soldiers have hung up their bruised arms for monuments, and beneath the grandfather’s sword of 1776, and the father’s musket of 1814, the son’s of 1865, hangs suspended, there to hang—if the great moral example of the past five years is to have any effect on the world—until all fall with rust on the peaceful hearth.

The camp gives way to the pleasant church and the joys of home, the sword is almost literally beaten into a ploughshare, and the “hard tack” gies way to the thanksgiving turkey and the pumpkin pie.

Verily have we cause for thanksgiving.

--"The Thanksgiving of 1865," Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, December 23, 1865, 221

 

THE SOLDIERS MEMORIAL SOCIETY

Is organized to preserve the grateful memory of the Soldiers of Massachustts who have served in the War for the Union.

Article 1. It will collect such narratives and other memorials of their heroism as may be obtained for the use of the Historian or Student. And it will hold itself ready to assist in any work of benevolence in those regions which were the seat of war, which may fitly show there that in the work of war our soldiers were engaged in the highest work of humanity and justice. Our monuments to our brothers who have served the country, shall be in the hospitals, schools, and other benificent institutions to which we can contribute in the region where they fought for us.

Art. 2. The officers of the Society are a President, Vice-PResident, Secretary and Treasurer, an Executive Committee, a Memorial Committee, and a Financial Committee. They shall be chosen at an Annual Meeting in June.

The Executive Committee shall direct the charitable and other work of the Society. They shall call upon its members to meet for sewing or other work for the charities in its charge.

The Memorial Committee shall collect such personal memoranda of those who have been in the army as may be accessible, attempting as full a collection as possible of those personal incidents which are most apt to die out from written history. From time to time they shall have charge of such publications as the whole Board may direct.

The Financial Committee shall solicit and collect contributions for the work of the Society.

All these Committees, with the Officers, shall form the General Board of Directors of the Society.

REV. GEORGE PUTNAM, D.D. President.
HON. MARTIN BRIMMER, Vice-President
Gen. WILLIAM SCHOULER, "
Col. THEODORE LYMAN, "
Col. HENRY S. RUSSELL, "
Rev. E. E. HALE, Secretary.
ARTHUR T. LYMAN, Treasurer

The above broadside, found among the papers of freedmen's teachers Lucy and Sarah Chase, was designed to solicit funds for a Soldiers Memorial Society. Interestingly, however, any money collected was to be used to:

assist in any work of benevolence in those regions which were the seat of war, which may fitly show there that in the work of war our soldiers were engaged in the highest work of humanity and justice. Our monuments to our brothers who have served the country, shall be in the hospitals, schools, and other benificent institutions to which we can contribute in the region where they fought for us.

At least two of the officers of the group had been previously involved in freedmen's education efforts. Martin Brimmer signed the 1862 "Appeal of the Educational Commission" soliciting funds to set up schools at Port Royal and elsewhere. Edward Everett Hale published articles arguing on behalf of rights for the freedmen and also worked with benevolent organizations, including the American Freedmen's Aid Commission, in which he served as a Vice-President.

 

"A Little Jaded"

The lively national mind is dwelling upon the Chinese rather than the negro at present, and, if the whole truth must be told, is doubtless a little jaded by the thought of a race with which it was really occupied a long time, — for such a very lively national mind. At the best it is a good deal like a woman's mind: a thing pleases and interests again and again, and there is no reason to believe that it will not do so forever: repeat it yet once more, and presto! it is of all things the most disgusting, and was always, always hated. This fatal pass has been almost attained with the negro and we should not therefore venture to commend Colonel Higginson’s book if it were a celebration of the negro in any of his familiar aspects of martyr or hero, or his present “transition state” of bore, however we might praise it as excellent and charming literature.

--A Review of Higginson's Army Life in a Black Regiment, The Atlantic Monthly, November, 1869, 643-644

 

 

The Creation of the Freedmen's Bureau and Its Impact on Freedmen's Education


Freedmen's teachers had often received a considerable amount of informal assistance from the army, often travelling for free on governmental transports and receiving army rations. With the establishment of the Freedmen's Bureau on March 3, 1865, some formal channels of support were created but some of the informal types of aid came to an end.

The Freedmen's Bureau was committed to supporting the establishment of schools in the South. However, its chief commissioner, Major General Oliver O. Howard, had nearly unilateral authority to choose how funding was to be allocated, and he most often chose to provide resources for religious rather than nonsectarian institutions.

Establishment of the Freedmen's Bureau

A Bureau was created, "to continue during the present War of Rebellion, and for one year thereafter," to which was given "the supervision and management of all abandoned lands and the control of all subjects relating to refugees and freedmen," under "such rules and regulations as may be presented by the head of the Bureau and approved by the President." A Commissioner, appointed by the President and Senate, was to control the Bureau, with an office force not exceeding ten clerks. The President might also appoint assistant commissioners in the seceded States, and to all these offices military officials might be detailed at regular pay. The Secretary of War could issue rations, clothing, and fuel to the destitute, and all abandoned property was placed in the hands of the Bureau for eventual lease and sale to ex-slaves in forty-acre parcels.

Thus did the United States government definitely assume charge of the emancipated Negro as the ward of the nation. It was a tremendous undertaking. Here at a stroke of the pen was erected a government of millions of men, -- and not ordinary men either, but black men emasculated by a peculiarly complete system of slavery, centuries old; and now, suddenly, violently, they come into a new birthright, at a time of war and passion, in the midst of the stricken and embittered population of their former masters. Any man might well have hesitated to assume charge of such a work, with vast responsibilities, indefinite powers, and limited resources. Probably no one but a soldier would have answered such a call promptly; and, indeed, no one but a soldier could be called, for Congress had appropriated no money for salaries and expenses.

Less than a month after the weary Emancipator passed to his rest, his successor assigned Major-Gen. Oliver O. Howard to duty as Commissioner of the new Bureau. He was a Maine man, then only thirty-five years of age. He had marched with Sherman to the sea, had fought well at Gettysburg, and but the year before had been assigned to the command of the Department of Tennessee. An honest man, with too much faith in human nature, little aptitude for business and intricate detail, he had had large opportunity of becoming acquainted at first hand with much of the work before him. And of that work it has been truly said that "no approximately correct history of civilization can ever be written which does not throw out in bold relief, as one of the great landmarks of political and social progress, the organization and administration of the Freedmen's Bureau."

On May 12, 1865, Howard was appointed; and he assumed the duties of his office promptly on the 15th, and began examining the field of work. A curious mess he looked upon: little despotisms, communistic experiments, slavery, peonage, business speculations, organized charity, unorganized almsgiving, -- all reeling on under the guise of helping the freedmen, and all enshrined in the smoke and blood of the war and the cursing and silence of angry men. On May 19 the new government -- for a government it really was -- issued its constitution; commissioners were to be appointed in each of the seceded states, who were to take charge of "all subjects relating to refugees and freedmen," and all relief and rations were to be given by their consent alone. The Bureau invited continued cooperation with benevolent societies, and declared: "It will be the object of all commissioners to introduce practicable systems of compensated labor," and to establish schools. Forthwith nine assistant commissioners were appointed. They were to hasten to their fields of work; seek gradually to close relief establishments, and make the destitute self-supporting; act as courts of law where there were no courts, or where Negroes were not recognized in them as free; establish the institution of marriage among ex-slaves, and keep records; see that freedmen were free to choose their employers, and help in making fair contracts for them; and finally, the circular said: "Simple good faith, for which we hope on all hands for those concerned in the passing away of slavery, will especially relieve the assistant commissioners in the discharge of their duties toward the freedmen, as well as promote the general welfare."

No sooner was the work thus started, and the general system and local organization in some measure begun, than two grave difficulties appeared which changed largely the theory and outcome of Bureau work. First, there were the abandoned lands of the South. It had long been the more or less definitely expressed theory of the North that all the chief problems of Emancipation might be settled by establishing the slaves on the forfeited lands of their masters, -- a sort of poetic justice, said some. But this poetry done into solemn prose meant either wholesale confiscation of private property in the South, or vast appropriations. Now Congress had not appropriated a cent, and no sooner did the proclamations of general amnesty appear than the eight hundred thousand acres of abandoned lands in the hands of the Freedmen's Bureau melted quickly away. The second difficulty lay in perfecting the local organization of the Bureau throughout the wide field of work. Making a new machine and sending out officials of duly ascertained fitness for a great work of social reform is no child's task; but this task was even harder, for a new central organization had to be fitted on a heterogeneous and confused but already existing system of relief and control of ex-slaves; and the agents available for this work must be sought for in an army still busy with war operations, -- men in the very nature of the case ill fitted for delicate social work, -- or among the questionable camp followers of an invading host. Thus, after a year's work, vigorously as it was pushed, the problem looked even more difficult to grasp and solve than at the beginning. Nevertheless, three things that year's work did, well worth the doing: it relieved a vast amount of physical suffering; it transported seven thousand fugitives from congested centres back to the farm; and, best of all, it inaugurated the crusade of the New England schoolma'am.

--W. E. B. DuBois, "Of the Dawn of Freedom," The Souls of Black Folk, 1903 (This same piece also appeared under the title, "The Freedmen's Bureau" in the Atlantic Monthly 87 (1901): 354-365

 

The Superintendent of the Freedmen's Warning to Freedmen Against
"LIVES OF IMMORALITY, IDLENESS, AND DISHONESTY"--
And the Freedmen's Response

THE FREEDMEN.
GENERAL   HOWARD'S   TOUR   OF   INSPECTION.
— HIS SPEECH AT LYNCHBURG.

It has already been announced that General Howard, Superintendent of the Freedmen's Bureau, is making a tour of inspection in the South to ascertain the condition of the negroes. The Lynchburg "Virginian," of September 26, gives the following account of his visit and speech in that city:— 

"Major-General O. O. Howard, Chief of the Freedmen's Bureau at Washington, reached this city Saturday night, and remained in the city during Sunday and yesterday. He was accompanied by Brigadier-General Strong, of his staff, Brigadier-General Hawley, chief of staff of Department of Virginia, and Colonel Brown, the Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau for Virginia.

"On Sunday afternoon, General Howard was called on by the City Council; and a pleasant interview took place between the members of that body and the distinguished visitor. General Howard was called on during his stay by a number of citizens; and the impression made on them by his conversation and bearing was most favorable. He also expressed himself pleased with what he saw and heard of the people.

"At night the General, wishing to see something of the people whose affairs he has in charge, attended service at the African Church, at the lower end of Main Street. An immense crowd was present: the fact having become known that they would be thus honored, the colored population flocked in untold numbers to the house.

"After the sermon was over, which was preached by one of their own race, the General stepped forward to the stand, and proceeded to address some very sensible and timely remarks to the congregation. He first described to them, in plain language, the origin, objects, and operations of the Bureau of which he is the head. He then spoke to them of their duty to live virtuous and industrious lives; to work hard for themselves; to try to save money enough to buy them­selves homes, and to provide for all their wants.

He impressed upon them that work was the duty and destiny of all men; that he himself had worked hard all his life, from his boyhood up; that he still had to work hard, and that he was happy in work; and that the attempt on their part to live any other life would surely bring them into trouble, perhaps starvation. He advised them all to make contracts with their former masters or others, and, when they had made them, to keep them, — observe them to the letter; be faithful, industrious, obedient, and thus to live down the predictions of many that they were unfit for freedom. The General cautioned them against erroneous and exaggerated ideas of what freedom was, — that it brought with it to them responsibilities and cares that they had never known before; that they would have to work hard and constantly to provide for themselves and families, but that they could get along very well if they would be energetic, honest, and provident. He urged upon, them, with great earnestness, to do right, — try in all cases to find out what is right; to study and labor and pray to ascertain it, and then to do it. He warned them against lives of immorality, idleness, and dishonesty, as certain to bring them to ruin; and to endeavor to live in accordance with the Christian teachings of which they had just heard. The duty of religion was very warmly impressed upon them; and they were told, that, if they considered their lot a hard one in this life, they must so live as finally to attain to that higher and better life, where the sorrows incident to this will not be known. He alluded to the fallacious idea which some entertained, that the lands of the South would be parcelled among them by the Government at Christmas. This idea, he told them, was utterly without foundation, and to discard it from their minds. The Government had no lands to give: it had no right to take them from their owners, and it would not he best if it had the right; and that, if lands were given them now, with their want of experience in managing for themselves, and lack of means, they would not find it to their advantage, and would, most probably, soon be cheated out of them by sharpers. The best thing now was to work for others faithfully, learn experience, be industrious and economical, and try to save enough from their wages to buy themselves homes after a while. He urged them to educate their children, and bring them up to correct and useful lives. The General alluded to the pernicious advice which had been given them by mischievous persons, — such as, 'If a white man pushes you off the sidewalk, push him off too; if he strikes you, strike him back again,' &c. 'This,' said the General, 'is all wrong.' They must remember not to violate the teachings of the blessed Saviour of whom they bad been hearing, who, when he was reviled, reviled not again, when he was smitten on one cheek, turned the other. That meek and gentle example of the great Master was worthy of their constant imitation. Listen not to the wicked counsels of bad men: they would only do them harm. He assured them, that the Government would protect them, and that their rights would all be respected.

"General Howard proceeded in this strain to address his attentive audience at considerable length: we give only an imperfect sketch of his remarks from memory. They were admirably conceived, and judiciously adapted to the circumstances and necessities of the case, and we doubt not will result in much good in disabusing the mind of the negroes of error, and giving them correct views of their real situation and duties."

--"The Freedmen: General Howard's Tour of Inspection--His Speech at Lynchburg," The Freedmen's Record, November, 1865, 178-179


There will be much suffering among the people this winter. Government stopped their rations early in September, when they were obliged to commence living upon their crops, which will soon be exhausted, as many came here too late to plant large ones. Near the Bay, they are self-supporting; but all about us, and on the upper part of the Island, they will suffer much. New ones are constantly arriving, who are destitute of every thing, having made contracts with the former land-owners on the "main" for the summer, and are now turned off, without any thing, and the contracts broken by the whites. The people are all much troubled with the fear of the return of their former masters, and Gen. Howard's visit has left them very sad. Fifteen thousand acres had been issued to them, in parcels of forty acres each, when the order was given to stop the allotment; and we all feel that the Government has broken faith with them. They make no reproaches upon it, but express themselves as "torn in mind," and "so distressful," and say that they cannot trust the men who have treated them so cruelly as their old masters have. Many spent the night after Gen. Howard's visit here, in going from one plantation to another, holding meetings, and bewailing their fate. We attended the meeting in the church, and it made our hearts ache to see the mournful expression upon the faces of all. It is a grievous disappointment to them, and they say they would rather own a small piece of land, and work it for themselves, than serve for large wages under such hard task-masters as they used to have. Two of the former land-owners here accompanied Gen. Howard; and one of them—Mr. Whaley—addressed the people, and evinced much emotion. But we heard, afterwards, that he had been most cruel to them, — shooting them down on their refusing to follow him, when he was forced to leave. He also burned his finest house here, rather than have it fall into the hands of the Yankees. One old man,—his former slave,— whom we know very well, refused to speak to him, and said to us "I talk no word with him." He was a spirited and rebellious slave, and has often given us accounts of his battles and punishments because he "would not take lick." They all express a determination never to make any contracts with, or work for, their former owners, and are so jealous of their interests, that, if a white man appears here, they guard him with their guns until they are sure he is a Yankee, and not in the interest of the rebels." Some men came here, the other day, to trade goods for cotton; and, as all are obliged to report to the superintendent, they came up here for the purpose; but the blacks would not allow them to set foot upon the piazza until he appeared. Even then, they made such demonstrations, that the men went away without transacting any business with them. One man among them was a Charleston man,—which excited their anger. Mr. Tollis, superintendent of Wadmelow Island, just opposite Edisto, arrived here after nightfall, one day last week; and, until they were satisfied of his identity, they would not allow him to pass. He was followed by several, who inquired if he was a United-States man.

--The Freedmen's Record, December, 1865

 

 

The Creation of the American Union Commission: A Shift from Freedmen's Aid
  to Southern Aid   


A wide variety of organizations had established freedmen's schools during the war, some sponsored by religious organizations and others secular. Despite their common interest in education, these groups had quite different goals and often competed with one another for students and donors. This competition became a matter of particular concern after the end of the war, as Northern interest turned to peacetime matters and funding dwindled. As one scholar explains:

The vicious rivalry that so vitiated the freedmen's aid movement had several sources. It was clearly a war of competing ideologies concerning race, social organization, politics, and religion. Denominational chauvinism led many to abandon nondenominational bodies and encouraged tensions even within the evangelical wing of the movement. A desire to dominate the movement sprang from the competition for benevolent dollars as well as from an awareness of ideological antagonisms. Finally, pettiness, personal ambitions, and group pride added to the competition..

----Ronald E. Butchart, Northern Schools, Southern Blacks, and Reconstruction: Freedmen's Education, 1862-1875 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980) 95

In the face of this problem, the New England Freedmen's Aid Society decided in 1865 to merge with a group of other organizations, including one that had previously been dedicated exclusively to serving needy whites, to form The American Union Commission. The goal of the new society was to promote

"the industrial, social, intellectual, moral, and religious improvement of persons released from slavery, and of other needy persons in the Southern States."

When explaining this change, The Freedmen's Record stressed the idea that expanding the work of the organization to include aid to Southern whites, it was doing away with all distinctions of color. Advocates of support for Southern whites also argued that doing so would "tend to abate the hostility with which Freedmen's Aid Societies . . . were regarded at the South."

 

 

"Circular," The Freedmen's Record, February 1866

At that conference, it appeared that both organizations were managed by persons having the same interest in the freedmen; and that the Union Commission, in the words of its published circular, "recognizes no distinctions of caste or color," and " has always maintained a cordial understanding and co-operation with the various societies organized for the special benefit of the colored people." It was also argued that it was very desirable to do away all distinctions of color, and that none were more interested in this object than those who were the warmest friends of the negro, and most opposed to all caste distinctions. It was confidently affirmed that the proffer of equal advantages to the poor whites, as well as negroes, would tend to abate the hostility with which Freedmen's Aid Societies, in the exclusive sense of the term, were regarded at the South; and that, in addition to this practical advantage, was the further important one, that great saving would result in expenses, and all conflict between the agents of two societies be avoided, if a union was formed. It was further suggested that the New-England branch of the Freedmen's Aid Commission would be especial gainers by such a union, inasmuch as it would enlist agencies and influences which have not hitherto co-operated in its work.

 

THE WHITE REFUGEES AT CAIRO. THEIR CONDITION, NUMBERS AND WANTS.

CAIRO RELIEF Association,    February 22d, 1864. 

To answer many inquiries concerning the condition of the White Refugees arriving here from the South, as well as to inform all, of the true situation of this hapless class of our fellow citizens, who feel an interest in their welfare, the Executive Board of the Cairo  Relief Association would respectfully represent that:

With the triumphal march of our armies through sections in rebellion, whole communities have flocked to our lines for protection against a misrule they took no part in establishing, and a despotism they have been powerless to resist.— The fact of their having lived in rebel States Is hastily and wrongly seized upon as evidence conclusive of their disloyalty. While this is true in some instances, yet we are satisfied from much personal intercourse with them, that had they been surrounded by loyal influences, the mass would have been quite as devoted unionists as thousands amongst us whose loyalty is unquestioned. To the union men and women of the South we must look for the most brilliant evidences of devotion to the old flag under trials of which we, in the full tide of peace and and prosperity, can form no adequate conception.

A SKETCH OF THEIR CONDITION IN THE SOUTH.

The reign of terror which exists throughout all the rebel Stales living in and adjacent to the Mississippi valley, has no parallel in thy most barbarous annals of our country.

Their abled bodied men have been conscripted, or fleeing to the woods and swamps have been hunted with blood hounds and shot like beasts.

Their crops have been destroyed.

Their lands laid waste.

Their cattle and teams driven off.

Their granaries robbed.

Their cotton burned.

Their houses sacked and razed.

Women have been stripped of their clothing, and turned naked upon the world.

Men, deserting  from a service they   hated,   have   been   caught and made to "dance wild on the wind" from the branches of trees which overhung their own dwellings.

Children, interceding, have been shot.

Mothers, imploring mercy, have had their infants stubbed on their breasts.

Sympathy with the Union cause has been made the sole occasion for atrocities unheard of in intestine war.

The rich and poor alike are prostrate, smitten and suppliant from their very destitution.

--from Cairo Relief Association (Cairo, Ill.), "The White Refugees at Cairo, Their Condition, Numbers, and Wants," 1864

 

 

Reorganizing Freedmen's Aid

At the end of the Civil War, the formation of the American Freedmen's Union Commission (AFUC) weakened women's position within the freedmen's aid movement. One group of abolitionists, led by J. Miller McKim, formed the Freedmen's Commission to oversee and manage the work of secular freedmden's aid socieites, such as the New England Freedmen's Aid Society, the Educational Commisson, and the National Freedmen's Relief Association of New York. McKim's efforts were part of a larger m ovemetn among members of the American Anti-Slavery Society(AASS) to rethink their political goals following emancipation.

***

In 1865, the Freedmen's Aid Union (the successor to the American Freedmen's Aid Commission) joined with the American Union Commission, a Republican organization devoted to aiding Southern white refugees, to freate the American Freedmen's Unikon Commission. With this union, the movement gtransformed itself from a freedmen's aid movement into a movement for the "people of the south, without distinction of race or color." . . . While the original Freedmen's Aid Commission mentioned the physical needs of freedpeople in its plan of action, the new American Freedmen's Union Commission highlighted injdustry and education, making no mention of destitution or unemployment. The new Commission also demanded centralization, under an all-male executive board, which meant affiliated societies would have less flexibility in policymaking and distribution of money and goods collected for freedpeople.

The members of the New England Society resisted these changes.

--Carol Faulkner, Women's Radical Reconstruction: The Freedmen's Aid Movement (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 33-34


In 1865 and 1866 the nondenominational societies strove to build up the American Freedmen's Aid Union into a viable national organization linking all the regional societies and adding efficiency to the educational movement. They succeeded in creating the American Freedmen's Union Commission (AFUC) in early 1866. In the same year, the AMA emerged as the primary denominationlal society, second only to AFUC in teachers and funds. The next phase of the conflict of ideologies would be played out between the secular eastern societies and the evangelical, interdenominational western societies, and between the AFUC as the dominant secular voice and the AMA as the spokesman for the ecclesiastical groups.

When NFRA joined AFAU in May 1865, the union embraced only four eastern societies. To move toward national federation, the unon petitioned the western regional societies to form a similar organization, with an eye toward eventual merger. A national merger was effected in August 1865, with the crfeation of the American Freedmen's Aid Commission (AFAC). The national federation underwent a final reorganization in early 1866 with the absorption of the American Union Commission and became the American Freedmen's Union Commission.

The organizers of AFUC saw several advantages to building a national commission. Coordination would end competition for funds and students. A united movement could present the nation's benevolent with a broad coalition that was fully at work on freedmen's problems. Improved visibilty and ethos would maximize their impact on benevolent resources. They knew, too, that a national organization could absorbe the Christian and Sanitary commissions that were preparing to dismantle after the war and thereby increase the contacts with philanthropoy. Again, the commision could served as a clearinghouse for domeestic and foreign giving and could begin to standardize the quality of the educational effort. Finally, there were hopes that simplifying and amplifying the work through unity and cooperation wsould end the growing tendency toward denominational societies and the development of systems of parochial schools in the south.

--Ronald E. Butchart, Northern Schools, Southern Blacks, and Reconstruction: Freedmen's Education, 1862-1875 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980) 84-85

 

THE AMERICAN UNION COMMISSION.
Its Origin, Objects and Operations.  


In June, 1864, Rev. Joseph P. Thompson, D.D., and Rev. Wm. I. Buddington, D.D., visited Tennessee as delegates of the Christian Commission. They witnessed the desolate condition of the country, the fences gone, implements of industry destroyed, houses burnt, churches and school houses standing idle or used for military purposes, while thousands of wretched refugees crowded Nashville and Louisville. The necessity of some organization to aid in rebuilding the places laid waste by war, as well as in giving temporary assistance to those who had suffered from it, was apparent. . . .

Organization.-This consists of branches established in the principal cities of the Union, from which delegates are elected who constitute the Commission, elect its officers and direct its affairs.

Refugees.-Thousands of these, driven from their homes by the surging of contending armies, or the persecution of guerillas, escaped to our lines and were brought by government to the North. Sick, hungry, half naked, they were left upon the wharves of Cairo, Louisville and Cincinnati to die, or huddled uncared for in camps at Nashville, Memphis, Vicksburgh and other points. Many of them were loyal. Over three thousand women and children were gathered by government at Clarksville, from the mountain regions of the South, whose husbands and brothers had enlisted in the Union Army, leaving them to the mercy of the merciless guerilla. For these unfortunates, barracks were obtained from government, and rations were furnished. The people of the North were appealed to for aid. They responded generously. In temporary homes at Cairo, Cincinnati, Louisville, Chicago, Baltimore and New York, these people were received. They were cleansed, fed, clothed, the sick were cared for and the well were provided with permanent homes and employment in the country. Thus, by the charities of the North the Commission has been enabled to provide permanently for from seventy-five to a hundred thousand refugees, and to relieve the country from the evils of a gigantic pauperism. This work is now over; these barracks are now all closed.

Special Relief.-While the Commission was thus providing for refugees, the work of war went on with a rapidity quite unparalleled in history. Sherman marched unopposed from Atlanta to Savannah, from Savannah to Goldsboro. Savannah, Charleston, Wilmington. and finally Richmond fell into the hands of the Government. An immense train of refugees, black and white followed the Federal Army. The Union Commission entered the Southern field thus opened to it, an commenced its more comprehensive work. It sent a special agent to Savannah, another to Charleston, and another to Richmond. It sent supplies to other points to be distributed by the agents of the Sanitary and Christian Commissions, whose most efficient co-operation has always been given for the purpose. Thus it has sent supplies of food and clothing throughout the South, as far West as Little Rock, as far South as Fernandina, &c. The people have generously given us the means for these benefactions. In a little over a year the Commission has raised nearly $150,000 in money and supplies, nearly all of which, however, are now distributed. We have thus aided, as nearly as we can estimate, twenty thousand suffering poor in middle Tennessee; an incalculable number in East Tennessee and Western Virginia, chiefly through the New England Branch; over fifteen thousand in and about Richmond; and through the Baltimore Branch have distributed nearly two thousand school books and Bibles, over thirteen hundred garments, besides seed and implements, in all over five thousand dollars worth, chiefly in the Valley of the Shenandoah. Smaller stores have been sent to other points.

The necessity for this work is far from over. Official reports, extracts from which are appended, show already that in certain regions the greatest destitution already exists, and give ground for the greatest apprehensions of actual starvation and death in many instances this winter, unless relief is afforded from the North.

Industry and Emigration.-While we have thus been sending supplies of food and clothing to the destitute, we have also sent seed and implements for distribution by careful and sagacious agents, to those who are desirous of going to work, but are without the means of labor. At the same time we have opened in New York City a bureau of information for the benefit of such as wish to emigrate South. Here are to be found copies of the leading Southern newspapers, government maps of the Southern States, and detailed information as to business openings, prices and character of lands, &c., gleaned from official reports and extensive correspondence.


Education.-By our contributions of special supplies we have opened the way for the more permanent and important work of education. The war has effectually destroyed such systems of public instruction as formerly existed. The school funds, either appropriated to military purposes, or converted into confederate bonds, are nearly all lost. The school houses, standing idle, or used as military hospitals and prisons are in sad want of repair. The people are without the necessary means to repair this waste, and yet the masses are very anxious to have public schools established.

Observations.-The American Union Commission is National in its character, comprising branches organized not only in the principal cities of the North, but also in several of the Southern States. Though undenominational, it is Christian in its spirit and purposes, and proffers its co-operation and assistance in the work of evangelization to all the different denominations alike. It is catholic in its benefactions, recognizing no distinctions of caste or color, proffering its assistance to all men upon the score of a common humanity alone. Nevertheless, it carefully avoids the duplication of charities and conflict of organizations, by maintaining a cordial understanding and co-operation with the various societies organized for the special benefit of the colored people. Neither political nor sectional in its aims, it is nevertheless composed exclusively of men of recognized loyalty and fidelity to freedom. Its purpose is not to aid in restoring the old order of things which the war has swept away, but to cooperate with all who are now sincerely seeking the restoration of the Union, in re-establishing it upon the basis of universal freedom, education, industry, and Christian morality.

--from The American Union Commission: Its Origin, Operations and Purposes, New York, 1865

 

The Debate Over the American Union Commission's Goals and Structure

The American Union Commission's Use of Sentimental Rhetoric to Solicit Aid
  for Southern Whites


The Rhetoric of Sentimental Benevolence: Not Separate but Not Equal Inviting affective identification with a difference—one gives and the other receives, one creates the pattern that molds the other.

During the war, many of the teachers who were part of the freedmen's educational movement wrote letters calculated to appeal to the emotions of their readers in order to encourage feelings of connectedness between Northern whites and Southern blacks. The sentimental rhetoric of the freedmen's teachers was characterized by the use of both "ethos" and "pathos." The letters provoked a sense of admiration for the teachers and those they were serving, and used specific descriptions of people, places, conversations, and situations to make the readers feel both sympathy for and a direct sense of connection with the people being described.

After the war, much the same kind of sentimental rhetoric was employed by members of the American Union Commission to appeal for aid to Southern whites. The commission attempted to make their readers feel a sense that they, too, were part of the scene through the use of comments such as the following:

Could I take you for a single hour to the scenes that I witnessed in Nashville a few months ago, when on a visit and the army of Gen. SHERMAN, then in North-Western Georgia, every heart would upon the instant approve this movement as necessary and momentous.

There is, however, one notable difference between the teachers' descriptions of the freedmen and the commission's description of Southern whites. Several times in the excerpts below you will notice writers remarking that the sight of needy Southerners touched their hearts by reminding them of their own families. This kind of appeal not just for a sense of connection but also for a direct sense of identification does not typically appear in letters of freedmen's teachers. When a teacher comments on the pain felt by a bereaved black mother, or by a father witnessing the scars on his child's body, there is an implicit reminder that African-Americans, like whites, are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, husbands, and wives. And yet, it is difficult to imagine a freedmen's teacher remarking, as does a writer in the text below:

A large number of these little ones had really pretty faces, and for a man to look upon them as they lay there, and then think of his own flock of seven, and think what they might, by some adversity, be reduced to, was touching indeed.

Compare the sentimental rhetoric used by freedmen's teachers--for example, in the letter written by A. F. Pilsbury--to advocate on behalf of the freedmen with the types ofappeals made below on behalf of white Southerners by members of the American Union Commission.

"For a man to look upon them as they lay there, and then think of his own flock of seven, and think what they might, by some adversity, be reduced to, was touching indeed."

The American Union Commission feels constrained to appeal, in behalf of the suffering refugees of the South, to the charities of the community.

Large tracts of our country have been desolated by the march of vast armies to and fro; the population, first exhausted by military exactions, have been plundered and stripped by guerillas; at length, abandoning their famine-smitten homes, they crowd within our lines. They arrive in the utmost possible destitution; huddle together in wretched places of refuge, and sink under want, exposure, and disease. One hundred per day of the most destitute and wretched sufferers have arrived through the whole of the past summer, at Nashville; forty per day at Memphis; and similar numbers at Cairo, Vicksburgh, and many other places, both in the interior and on the sea coast. The forced depopulation of Atlanta, and the recent devastation of the Shenandoah valley, have made a frightful increase of this misery and thrown fresh thousands of houseless and naked creatures upon Pennsylvania and Kentucky for relief. An ordinary famine scarcely involves such suffering. The famine stricken have homes. It is impossible to depict this misery of the homeless.

Twelve hundred such sufferers are this day in Memphis, with scarcely any other shelter than four worn-out tents. They are destitute of every convenience of life, nay, of every necessity. Some of them have not seen a comb for months, and are devoured by vermin. Women have not the clothing which decency demands, and their children stand naked around them. An agent of the Union Commission, at Memphis, Rev. Ed. R. Pierce, writes thus:--

"I called a few of the women together and made known to them the objects of the American Union Commission; their tears of joy could not be suppressed, whilst one sickly mother frantically grasped her infant, almost dead, entirely naked, and exclaimed, 'Shall I see my baby clothed once more?'"

Their wretched abodes, crowded with the sick who are unable to help themselves, are filthy and pestilential to the last degree; sixty are huddled in one small room at Natchez, most of them severely ill. The dying lie uncared for, the dead unburied among them, for days. At some posts, as at Knoxville, there is a lack of medicine; at others, as at Memphis, they have no medical attendance; everywhere they are destitute of all suitable food for the sick. Everywhere they need stoves to warm their miserable shelters, and enable the women to earn something by sewing. In some places they are suffering from scurvy: the medical officer in charge of the hospital at Key West, writes "five or six die daily" at Cedar Keys for want of fresh provisions. Every week brings new accounts of this suffering and more urgent appeals for relief.

What can be done? Only the briefest time remains in which to provide succor before the winter. We appeal to all who have hearts to feel for human misery--than which none greater exists on the face of the earth. We plead for a contribution of clothing from every family. We beg you to tie up whatever you can spare, and hand it to the Agent of our Commission, who will call for it within a few days. We appeal to the ladies to furnish us blankets, shawls, dresses, underclothing, stockings, and shoes for women and children. No want, no suffering, exists in our land this day which pleads with equal urgency for prompt and generous relief.

. . .Our generosity will save the lives of our friends, abate the rancor of our enemies, and bless and relieve those who are literally "ready to perish."

--American Union Commission, "The American Union Commission Feels Constrained to Appeal in Behalf of the Suffering Refugees of the South," N. Y., Nov. 9, 1864.


No less than four distinct classes have been thrown directly upon our hands for sympathy and aid. First of all, our wounded and suffering soldiers on the field and in the hospital. The unanimous sentiment of the nation, is, that the men who are perilling all and suffering all for the country, deserve all at the hands of the people. The Sanitary Commission, which is one of the best exponents of practical Christianity, and the Christian Commission, which is one of the best exponents of the vital unity of the church of God-these two Commissions, ministering to the wants of the body, `and to the comfort and peace of the soul, command, and I doubt not, will, till the close of the war, continue to command, the unanimous support of the loyal people of the nation.

Next to the soldiers, we have had thrown upon us an afflicted and outraged race, long down-trodden and oppressed, now rising to receive, not only sympathy and charity at our hands, but to receive justice, which, blessed be God, has been rendered to them within this very hail. But this people,who, for the time, have so large and, so pressing a claim upon our resources, will, presently, I think, cease to demand charitable sympathy and aid. I have so much confidence in that wronged and abused race, in their essential manhood, in their facile character, their power of adaptation to new circumstances, contingencies and conditions, that I believe the time is not far distant when the black man (as was intimated by his eloquent representative in this place this morning)* (* Rev. HENRY HIGHLAND GARNET had preached in the Hall of Representatives in the morning ) will have as little need of special legislation as any class in the country. Give him his home, give him his family, give him the just wages of his labor, give him his rights as a citizen, and he will dispense with your tutelage, and cast off the feeling of dependence. Under the instincts of liberty he will show himself a man; and he who has taken care both of himself and his master, will assuredly take care of himself and of his own! What the black man should have at our hands is mainly the certainty of protection in his liberty; and for the rest, he may well be trusted to look out for himself.

A third class have been thrown upon us for our sympathy and aid, concerning whom I will speak but for a moment. I refer to the loyal occupants of portions of States in rebellion and within the theatre of war. For example, the people of West Virginia. West Virginia has put her full quota into the field for the defence of the nation under every call; and, I am told, has not in a single instance resorted to the expedient of substitutes and bounty-jumpers. Yet, an area of 16,000 miles of that State has been overrun by the two contending armies not less than twelve times; the country has been stripped bare of all the necessaries of life; and multitudes of her population have been driven forth homeless, needing now the hand of sympathy and of fraternal encouragement. A careful computation by responsible persons in that State shows that not less than ten thousand of its inhabitants, at this very day, are in these necessitous circumstances, and must be helped by us, not only through the winter, but through the coining spring, in re-establishing their deserted homes.. . .

Of East Tennessee, I shall not assume to speak. The loyalty and fidelity of that region, the sufferings her people have endured, and their present wants, will be set before you to-night by my friend Col. TAYLOR, who will speak not only with the eloquence of nature and of culture, but with the glow of a martyr-patriotism, and the pathos of a suffering exile. That people demand large sympathy at our hands, because their sufferings have been greatly aggravated by our want of sagacity and promptitude as a nation at the outset of the war. I hesitate not to say that, had we then followed the sagacious indications of two of the most sagacious men in these United States-had we adopted the recommendation of the President of the United States, to build forthwith the railroad to connect the Ohio River with Knoxville, and the equally sagacious demand of Gen. SHERMAN for 200,000 men as a force with which to begin the war in Tennessee-depend upon it, Sir, it would have cost us but one campaign to have exterminated the rebellion from the soil of that State; and there would have been no question here the other day as to whether there was a State of Tennessee entitled to an electoral vote. [Applause.]

We owe everything to that brave people who have remained true to our flag through manifold trials and sufferings. I said to a loyal son of Tennessee, a few months ago, 'We of the North have known nothing of trial, and suffering, and sacrifice in the cause of the country, in comparison with what you have endured; and let me pledge you, sir, that when these days of peril and of blood are over, the people will remember you and such as you.' `I am not indifferent,' was his manly answer, `to the good-will of my fellow-citizens; but I assure you, that has not been in my thoughts. I had a home; I had a competence, the result of years of toil; I had friends; I had honors and offices, as many as I cared for or deserved. I lost all these; but it was for my country; and I have determined to sacrifice all for her sake, and to put down this accursed rebellion.' 1 could but repeat, `Sir, you will not be forgotten.' And the nation redeemed that pledge when it said to him, on the eighth day of November, `You, who have no home, shall now be adopted as the second citizen of the Republic; you, who have no State shall sit under the dome of the National Capitol, presiding over the Senate of all the States.' [Applause.]

There is another class, Mr. President, whom I wish particularly to bring to the notice of this assembly, leaving to Col. Taylor the description of his friends in East Tennessee. I refer to that mixed multitude known properly as REFUGEES, who are stranded within our lines by the tides of war--home-less, friendless, penniless-driven out by their fears-driven out by threats-driven out by guerilla invasions--driven out by starvation--driven out now by the advance of rebel armies, and again by the order of our own commanders under military necessity. . . .

Could I take you for a single hour to the scenes that I witnessed in Nashville a few months ago, when on a visit and the army of Gen. SHERMAN, then in North-Western Georgia, every heart would upon the instant approve this movement as necessary and momentous. I entered a large building, once occupied as a medical college, and found in it at that time some 300 human beings, mostly women and children, the remnants of families, each little group clustering by itself; very poorly clad; most of them in rags; without any means of subsistence but the half-rations derived from the Government, altogether inappropriate and inadequate for the sick and the feeble; with no kind of superintendence; huddled together en masse; filthy--wretched. I have seen wretchedness amid degradation in almost every form and in almost every land; yet, I do solemnly aver, that I had never seen such concentrated wretchedness as there met my eyes. The worst feature of it was its inertia; it was the very inertia of misery. The people were so utterly prostrated that they could hardly move a finger for their own relief. I went into a little out-building, measuring, I should think, ten feet by fifteen. In that building there were some ten distinct families-not a man among them--women and children. Each family had assigned to it a little bunk made of the rudest boards. Upon the first bunk, lay a woman, apparently in the last stage of lung disease; and with her were two little children, half-naked and helpless. On the next lay another, with her eyes set in death, her hands thrown back, just about to expire in the unconsciousness of the last stages of typhoid; and (I never shall forget the horror of the spectacle) a little child vainly seeking sustenance from the dying mother, and that babe evidently uncared for for many hours. On another bunk was a little boy, a bright eyed fellow, with the measles--a disease which of course, would spread itself through the whole company. We were so touched by this scene that we stirred ourselves among the' people of the town, and before night had made some arrangements for the relief of that wretchedness. But the people then in Nashville, whose hearts were in sympathy with the Government, were relatively few, and these were overtaxed already in their endeavors to relieve such misery. Let me give you, in one word, a description, more recent, from two very competent agents whom the Commission sent to Nashville early in the present year. This letter is dated the 13th of January, 1865.

"We have spent the day among the Refugees. Their condition is past description. While they are tenderly cared for and looked after, as far as the nature of the case and the means at command admit, yet it is impossible to prevent great suffering.

"First we went to the Children's Hospital,-a nursery of fifty or sixty children, from tender infants to ten or twelve years of age. One had just died; deaths occur daily, and some days nearly every hour notes the passing of some one of these innocent creatures to his eternal home. A large number of these little ones had really pretty faces, and for a man to look upon them as they lay there, and then think of his own flock of seven, and think what they might, by some adversity, be reduced to, was touching indeed.

"Next, we called on a family living in a tenement of two rooms, both about the size of a common office. It compared favorably in its condition with a Five Points' tenement of the old class. Here lived, or rather stayed, a mother with five daughters and three grandchildren. They had seen days of comfortable living, but now their furniture and bedding were not greater than you would find in the family of a rag-picker of three or four persons.

"We next called at a barrack where we found three hundred persons, mostly women and children. After taking a general survey of this mass of humanity we inquired `how many could read?' The answer was `one in twenty.' This must be a mistake we thought, and inquired around-' Can you read?' `No,' `You?' `No,'-and so on to ten, fifteen! twenty! as we passed-not one could read, all of them over twelve years of age.

"As regards personal piety, a good many professed to have a knowledge of the Saviour; say one-third.

"Our next visit was to a family of the better class, occupying two moderate sized, ground bedrooms; condition of tenement miserable, A family of twelve to fourteen persons lived there- four or five sick--one dead and several of the sick in a fair way to die.

"We prayed with them, left a trifle of money to bury the dead, and will do more for them by and by.

"Clothing that has been laid off; but which is yet warm and comfortable is greatly needed for the women and children--bedding for all and delicacies for the sick."

I read a few lines illustrating the state of things existing at Jeffersonville, Indiana, to which point many Refugees have been forwarded during the present winter.

"A short time since, five or six hundred were dumped right upon the dock, in the mud and snow, bare-footed and nearly bare-backed, many of them sick, worn out, and in a most deplorable condition. As a friend was giving us this information, we met the City Marshall, who more than confirmed his statement; said he counted five women in one group without a shoe in the lot, in the snow, until they could be got into an old tent without fire. More or less of them died. Govern-ment had now put up a building, in the barrack style. It would hold about one hundred and fifty, as soldiers sleep; could barely cover and keep from freezing for a night, 300 ; had just got it into shape, had got two stoves, and was getting the bunks up."

Such is a faithful picture, often repeated, of what has met our eyes in visiting these various points of destitution. Of course I do not mean that such utter wretchedness is a uniform and permanent characteristic of the Refugees. Their numbers and their condition, at a given point, are constantly varying; and the Union Commission is doing much for their relief. But just such harrowing scenes have been witnessed a thousand times among them, in the past few months.

 

 

The Use of Sentimental Rhetoric to Argue on Behalf of Northern Education for the   South


During the war, freedmen's aid organizations had suggested that education was the best answer to the questions about whether African-Americans could learn, work, and live as members of a moral and democratic civilization. After the war, the publications of the American Union Commission raised the same questions about Southern whites and proposed the same answer. In other words, many reformers argued that the best way of achieving a real "reconstruction" would be to establish the New England common school system in the South.

The American Union Commission characterized Southerners as responsive to efforts being made to improve the condition of African-Americans and supportive of the efforts of freedmen's teachers. Note the ways in which the language and arguments employed by the Southern governors in the excerpts below reinforces the images being put forth by the Northern aid societies of a broken South and a superior North, ready to remake the South in its image. Repeatedly the letters from the Southern governors depict their people as destitute, eager to "accept the abolition of slavery and perpetuity of the Union," and in need of "an infusion of Northern example of energy and industry."

 

Education as the Means of Promoting Learning,
Industry, and Chritian Morality

It will take some time before the people of the South will see the benefits which they are to derfive by the elevation and education of all classes. Business and wealth are sure to follow freedom, education, and Christian morals.

--"Our Future Work: The Best Means for Its Prosecution," The American Freedman, August, 1866, 67.


What plan of benevolence will best secure the greatest amount of good to the Southern States, just emerging from a state of anarchy, into a new order of social life? I will briefly indicate what, in my judgment, such a plan should be.--The Southern States never had a public school system. Their peculiar system of labor forbade it. They had private schools which afforded instruction to the few, while the many were compelled to grow up and remain in ignorance. The late rebellion in the main grew out of this fact. This must be changed. The intellectual and moral character of the Southern people can be elevated and sustained only through the medium of common schools, accessible to all classes--white and colored--and by faithful Christian teaching from the pulpit. Tennessee will establish her schools for white and colored pupils. These schools will need well qualified teachers, and the Union Commission can render valuable assistance in supplying the schools with such teachers. Some pecuniary aid may also be required in sustaining the teachers in these schools for a short time, which it may be well for the Commission to render.

* * * * *

The spirit of the people of East Tennessee and their great anxiety to secure the blessings of popular education, are strikingly illustrated by the following extract, clipped from the recent address to his constituency, by Geo. E. Grisham, Esq., a candidate for the Tennessee legislature:

"Should it be your pleasure to elect me, fellow citizens, the first and greatest question which shall engage my attention will be that of education. Upon this subject I may be considered an enthusiast. But the importance attaching thereto should demand the most serious consideration and zeal of our law-making and public representatives. In my humble judgment, there is no question which is of greater or more vital interest to our country. In the palmiest days of our State, our system of education was never what it ought to have been. Let us look at the Northern States of our Union, and behold the contrast! For instance, take a regiment of soldiers from a Northern state, and as a general rule, you will find that at least nine-tenths of the members can read and write. Take one of our Tennessee regiments, and behold how sad has been the neglect of men who have hitherto had the control and management of our State affairs. The Township System of education in the North has worked wonders in the diffusion of useful knowledge among the masses. Here, we have been ground down by the heel of a petty aristocracy, who cared not for the common people. But, thanks to a benign Providence, the day of their destiny is over; and, to day, the eagle of liberty perches upon the banner of a free and independent Republic. Now can we begin to lift our eyes and behold, through the glorious sun-light of God's blessings, the handwriting on the wall--' Progress--Refinement--Education--Liberty--Success!' Fellow Citizens, above all things else, we need the intellectual and moral training of our youth, which, for four dreadful years of bloodshed and carnage, have been almost entirely neglected. The condition of our country, in this respect. is a stigma upon our fair fame as a people--a people whose loyalty has been that of undying devotion."

Fellow Citizens, this is an unconscious appeal to you. What answer do you make to it? Will you, who have always enjoyed the blessings of a free education, extend your aid to such noble spirits, endeavouring to secure to their children henceforth those privileges which in the past have been denied them?

--"Tennessee, Abstract of Hon. E. Root's Reports," quoted in The American Union Commission: Its Origin, Operations and Purposes, 1865


Schools in Raleigh,.--" I have been making personal explorations about this city, and am convinced that a school which will admit children free is a great desideratum. My estimate is that there are over five hundred schoolable children here, and not over two hundred and twenty-five in school. At a house where I was this morning, the girl, fourteen years old, has just left off school because they could not afford the reduced rate of two dollars a month, which the teacher had consented to receive. 'We are all pressed down,' said the mother, by way of apology. 'I wish you would start a school here,' said the girl, 'I'd like to begin next week.' At another house I asked the girl, of about the same age, if it would be a good place in that neighborhood for a school.'There are a heap of poor children here that would like to go if there was one where they could; I'd like to go myself.' * * *

--Governor Holder of North Carolina quoted in The American Union Commission: Its Origin, Operations and Purposes, 1865


"Industry, education, and Christian morality are the pillars of freedom. Our State is a picture of desolation. The great majority of the people are reduced to poverty. The benevolent institutions of the loyal states are producing a right spirit here and softening our hearts, hardened by the terrible scenes and sufferings of the war. The farmers are very destitute of stock and tools, as well as seeds. However, a great exertion has been made to raise something to eat and make something to wear. The people need aid in every way. They need an infusion of Northern example of energy and industry. . . ."Kindness will conquer the most stubborn, and reform them if reform is possible. To love our neighbor as ourselves is christianity, is happiness, and is the foundation of all true freedom. The immense efforts of the benevolent institutions of the loyal states have done more to conquer the rebellion than our armies.

--Isaac Murphy, Governor of Arkansas, quoted in The American Union Commission: Its Origin, Operations and Purposes, 1865


The work of elevating the poor people of the South, of all classes, is the privilege--nay more, it is the duty of all true men in this transition period of our history as a nation. It is well to bear in mind, particularly amongst our Christian people, and at a time when public sentiment is likely to be absorbed by other objects of interest, that duty requires them to remember those suffering poor, and make their contributions to meet their pressing wants. . . . Every assistance given to industry and education affords direct and indirect aid in the solution of the difficult problems affecting the Freedmen. What we need at the South is Christian charity. All you can do to promote this spirit is positive help, and every block of prejudice removed clears the way for real, substantial progress.

--O.O. Howard, quoted in The American Union Commission: Its Origin, Operations and Purposes, 1865


The war has effectually destroyed such systems of public instruction as formerly existed. The school funds, either appropriated to military purposes, or converted into confederate bonds, are nearly all lost. The school houses, standing idle, or used as military hospitals and prisons are in sad want of repair. The people are without the necessary means to repair this waste, and yet the masses are very anxious to have public schools established. The American Union Commission co-operating with them, is aiding in the educational work in three ways. . . . Our schools have been re-opened here and the frequent declaration that the poor whites have no desire to learn is sufficiently refuted by the fact that over a hundred children applied for admission before the teacher was on the ground to open the school.


What plan of benevolence will best secure the greatest amount of good to the Southern States, just emerging from a state of anarchy, into a new order of social life? I will briefly indicate what, in my judgment, such a plan should be.--The Southern States never had a public school system. Their peculiar system of labor forbade it. They had private schools which afforded instruction to the few, while the many were compelled to grow up and remain in ignorance. The late rebellion in the mlain grew out of this fact. This must be changed. The intellectual and moral character of the Southern people can be elevated and sustained only through the medium of common sclhools, accessible to all classes--white and colored--and by faithful Christian teaching from the pulpit.

--"Tennessee, Abstract of Hon. E. Root's Reports," quoted in The American Union Commission: Its Origin, Operations and Purposes, 1865, 9

 

 "Industry, education, and Christian morality are the pillars of freedom. Our State is a picture of desolation."

Arkansas.-Gov. Murphy.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Aug. 7th, 1865.

"Rev. Lyman Abbott:-Yours of the 29th July, is received. The American Union Commission is another evidence that the true spirit of Christianity is spreading. Love to our race and kindness to God's creatures,--this is true patriotism;--it is the principle that will render republican government permanent.

"Industry, education, and Christian morality are the pillars of freedom. Our State is a picture of desolation. The great majority of the people are reduced to poverty. The benevolent institutions of the loyal states are producing a right spirit here and softening our hearts, hardened by the terrible scenes and sufferings of the war. The farmers are very destitute of stock and tools, as well as seeds. However, a great exertion has been made to raise something to eat and make something to wear. The people need aid in every way. They need an infusion of Northern example of energy and industry. Emigrants of the proper character would do themselves and us much good. Teachers are much needed, but the people generally are not able to support them. The lands of the State are rich; mineral resources unbounded. The climate as healthy as any other State. All the elements of wealth are here waiting development.

"Kindness will conquer the most stubborn, and reform them if reform is possible. To love our neighbor as ourselves is christianity, is happiness, and is the foundation of all true freedom. The immense efforts of the benevolent institutions of the loyal states have done more to conquer the rebellion than our armies.

"With high respect, &c.,
(Signed), "ISAAC MURPHY."

--from The American Union Commission: Its Origin, Operations and Purposes, 1865

 

Letters from Southern Governors to the American Union Commission

Our Reception in the South.--It is not only from the officers of the Bureau we receive such endorsements. The people of the South give us a cordial welcome, and extend to us every facility in their power. They freely offer us the use of their school buildings, as in Knoxville, Raleigh, Macon, and Atlanta. In Richmond, several of the clergy gave us for a time the use of their lecture rooms. Free transportation over the Southern railroads is given to our agents and supplies. Our teachers are not only warmly welcomed but partially supported by the Southern people, who are exerting every energy to give their children educational advantages. The leading Southern newspapers are sent to our central office free of charge. And while we occasionally meet with opposition from some who have not yet recovered from the bitter feelings engendered by the war, we have thus far found ourselves and our proposed work warmly and cordially welcomed by the masses of the Southern people. Some evidence of this feeling we give in the following extracts, from correspondence received by us:

 

North Carolina-Gov. Holden.

"State of North Carolina Executive Department, "
RALEIGH, N. C., August 7th, 1865. "

Rev. Lyman Abbott, New York,

"'Sir: —Your letter of the 25th ult, addressed to His Excellency, Gov. HOLDEN, has been received. His Excellency entirely approves the object of your Association as set forth in your circular and letter, and will take great pleasure in doing anything to promote their success. I have no doubt the proffer made by your Commission will be kindly and gratefully received by North Carolina, the great mass of whose citizens are anxious to bury all past feelings and animosities, and to resume fraternal relations with the Northern people; —indeed there has been in this State throughout the war a strong Union party.

* * * * *

"I am, Sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
(Signed), "LEWIS HANES,
"Private Secretary to the Governor."

 


"Florida-Gov. Marvin.

"Office of the Provisional Governor,
"TALLAHASSE, Fla., Oct. 4th 1865.

"Rev. Lyman Abbott,"
Dear Sir: —I received your letter and the circular of the American Union Commission some weeks since, and referred it to some of the principal citizens of the town. Our State is at present in need of almost every thing, but the people are as hopeful as could be expected, and accept the abolition of slavery and perpetuity of the Union as fixed facts. A good crop next year will do much for them.

"You can do the people of the State service by sending to my address at this place, say two thousand spelling books, and a thousand arithmetics for young beginners, for the use of poor white and colored children. I will undertake their distribution.

" Very respectfully,
(Signed), " WM. MARVIN."

 

Arkansas.-Gov. Murphy.

"Executive Office,
"LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Aug. 7th, 1865.

"Rev. Lyman Abbott:--Yours of the 29th July, is received. The American Union Commission is another evidence that the true spirit of Christianity is spreading. Love to our race and kindness to God's creatures,--this is true patriotism;--it is the principle that will render republican government permanent.

"Industry, education, and Christian morality are the pillars of freedom. Our State is a picture of desolation. The great majority of the people are reduced to poverty. The benevolent institutions of the loyal states are producing a right spirit here and softening our hearts, hardened by the terrible scenes and sufferings of the war. The farmers are very destitute of stock and tools, as well as seeds. However, a great exertion has been made to raise something to eat and make something to wear. The people need aid in every way. They need an infusion of Northern example of energy and industry. Emigrants of the proper character would do themselves and us much good. Teachers are much needed, but the people generally are not able to support them. The lands of the State are rich; mineral resources unbounded. The climate as healthy as any other State. All the elements of wealth are here waiting development.

"Kindness will conquer the most stubborn, and reform them if reform is possible. To love our neighbor as ourselves is christianity, is happiness, and is the foundation of all true freedom. The immense efforts of the benevolent institutions of the loyal states have done more to conquer the rebellion than our armies.

"With high respect, &c.,
(Signed), "ISAAC MURPHY."

 

 

Arkansas.-Gov. Murphy.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Aug. 7th, 1865.

"Rev. Lyman Abbott:-Yours of the 29th July, is received. The American Union Commission is another evidence that the true spirit of Christianity is spreading. Love to our race and kindness to God's creatures,-this is true patriotism;-it is the principle that will render republican government permanent.

"Industry, education, and Christian morality are the pillars of freedom. Our State is a picture of desolation. The great majority of the people are reduced to poverty. The benevolent institutions of the loyal states are producing a right spirit here and softening our hearts, hardened by the terrible scenes and sufferings of the war. The farmers are very destitute of stock and tools, as well as seeds. However, a great exertion has been made to raise something to eat and make something to wear. The people need aid in every way. They need an infusion of Northern example of energy and industry. Emigrants of the proper character would do themselves and us much good. Teachers are much needed, but the people generally are not able to support them. The lands of the State are rich; mineral resources unbounded. The climate as healthy as any other State. All the elements of wealth are here waiting development.

"Kindness will conquer the most stubborn, and reform them if reform is possible. To love our neighbor as ourselves is christianity, is happiness, and is the foundation of all true freedom. The immense efforts of the benevolent institutions of the loyal states have done more to conquer the rebellion than our armies.

"With high respect, &c.,
(Signed), "ISAAC MURPHY."

--from The American Union Commission: Its Origin, Operations and Purposes, 1865

 

The Continued Use of Aid Organizations to "Agitate" on Behalf of the Freedmen

Dr. Bellows, formerly President of the Sanitary Commission, was the next speaker. He said that he merely desired to be considered as an outsider, a looker-on in Vienna, yet deeply interested in the great work of ameliorating the condition of the freedmen. The greatest thing in the American Freedmen's Association was the heroism of the work they had undertaken. It is not only for the education of the freedmen; but it has to accomplish a much more difficult work at home, —the education of the Northern people to a due appreciation of their duties to the negro and the freed­men. If that were accomplished, their work would be one of ease and joy. Had we waited for the consent, the approbation, and the support of the American people, acting under their instincts and interests, the slave would be to-day a slave, doubly locked in his chains.

Now that we have freed him, through Providence, we should be prepared to educate him, and secure to him the immunities and rights that belong to his position. The labors of the Association will not prove easy. The great difficulty is, to send agents and agitators into every town and county throughout the North, to stir up the people, and make them sensible of, and alive to, the vital importance of the work; to plead the cause of the freedmen, to take their offerings, and to swell them into one great river of support. They will then find a wide-spread and general sympathy with the task they have undertaken.

The universal and unjust prejudice against the freedmen must also be removed; and this Association will have to take that matter in hand. There are not only four millions of slaves to educate, but twenty millions of white men. You cannot do your work for the black man, without working for the white man also.

--from "American Freedmen's Aid Commission" published in "The Philadelphia Press" and reprinted in "American Freedmen's Aid Commisson," The Freedmen's Record, November, 1856, 172-173.

 

 

The Debate Over Methods of Freedmen's Education: Segregation,   School Taxes, "Native Teachers" and Normal Schools

 

Despite the fact that the constitution of the American Freedmen's and Union Commission committed workers to labor for freedmen "& other needy persons" and establish "Schools without distinction of race or color," segregated schools began to emerge as another means of appeasing Southern whites.In the letter below, James Redpath, at that time a Superintendent of education in Charleston, admitted:

I am obliged to have separate rooms, and white teachers for the white children, —but all our friends here regard it as a great victory to our cause, to have succeeded in getting the two classes into the same building.

He argued, however, that this was "a great step toward destroying the prejudice against the colored people."

Disputes had raged between during the antebellum period between those who believed in the immediate abolition of slavery and those who believed in could only be done gradually. This same kind of argument was played out once again after the war, with the American Union Commission taking the side of those who believed that progress for African-Americans could only come gradually and would be dependent upon winning the good will of white Southerners.

 

"I Am Obliged to Have Separate Rooms, and White Teachers,
for the White Children"

SCHOOLS IN CHARLESTON.

MARCH 9, 1865.

DEAR MADAM, — Col. Woodford, commander Port of Charleston, appointed me Superintendent of Public Jurisdiction of this city, and gave me possession of all the School buildings, which were formally opened last Saturday, March 4th. Of course, I received all white, black, and yellow children alike, and, after encountering consider-able opposition, the plan is working well. About three hundred white children are attending school, and over one thousand two hundred colored.

The two largest schools in the city are over-flowing; I am obliged to have separate rooms, and white teachers for the white children, —but all our friends here regard it as a great victory to our cause, to have succeeded in getting the two classes into the same building. It gives us five schools, well furnished and amply supplied with certain classes of books ; but above all, it is a great step toward destroying the prejudice against the colored people. All the colored people are delighted at this arrangement,—or rather they are in ecstasy about it. Mr. Newcombe and Mr. Gilbert Pillsbury, agreed to pay the salaries of the teachers (there are forty-two engaged), and Gen. Saxton authorized me to grant one ration to each teacher.

The teachers are nearly all of Charleston,—about twenty-five colored, the balance white,—but there are only two very efficient : your teacher, Mr. A. T. Morse, and Mr. Newcombe.

I took this position simply to break down prejudice against the loyalists of Charleston : every one of the old citizens predicted an utter failure, — but our Boston system, slightly modified, has succeeded.

Six or eight teachers will come down from Hilton Head next week ; but we need more, especially, of those competent to teach the more advanced classes. We ought to open a third school on Monday ; but we have no one sufficiently talented and competent otherwise to take charge of it as Principal.

Col. Woodford at first offered me the superintendence of the colored schools; but I gave him my reasons for refusing to have any thing to do with separate schools, in a municipality in which colored people had been taxed to build and sup-port buildings into which their children were never admitted. He carefully thought over my statement, and adopted the method I urged on him, and he has acted manfully.

You can be sure of having two thousand pupils here. The adults want to have a class. I think the first night school would have five hundred pupils, "from eighteen to eighty ;" but the school buildings are not lighted with gas, and I want to try to get the educated colored people to run these schools on their own account.

Respectfully yours, JAMES REDPATH.

 

LETTER OF INSTRUCTIONS.

It has been thought by some that the policy of providing for the education of white as well as black children at the South will operate injuriously, so far as the latter are concerned; or, at any rate, that it will involve radical changes in the principles of our Society.

We give below the letter of instruction, sent to three of the teachers, who wrote us they were making arrangements for receiving white pupils. The instructions express the unanimous views of the Committee on Teachers, and were subsequently, by a unanimous vote, approved at the monthly meeting of the officers of our Association.

Boston, Feb. 6,1866.

Misses Buttrick, Hosmer, and Parker:
Dear Young Ladies,

— I address you all together, as you all sign the epistle, and as all I shall say will apply to you equally.

The hindrances you speak of are the same that our teachers experience everywhere, and which are inevitable, in the present unsettled condition of society. You have a pretty large attendance, however, and the school seems to progress favorably.

You say that you are making arrangements to receive white pupils. We shall be very glad to have them come into the school, and especially wish you to keep us informed of all that relates to them. What "arrangements" do you find necessary in receiving them, unless it be, perhaps, the enlargement of your schoolroom, increase of the number of seats, &c?

As this is the first instance in which teachers have reported to us a desire on the part of the white children to enter the school in any large number, I will state fully the principles which we wish to guide you in your reception of pupils. The clause in the constitution of the new union of the societies says: " No school shall be established which recognizes any distinction of caste or color." This sentence is to be carried out in its full force. White children are to be received on precisely the same footing, and no other, with blacks; that is to say, they are to occupy the same rooms, recite in the same classes, and receive the same attention as the blacks. You cannot control public opinion outside of the school; but, within its limits, you must secure entire respect from every pupil to every other. You must not allow the blacks, from their vantage-ground of loyalty, to insult the whites; nor the whites to insult the blacks from any fancied supe­riority. It is a difficult task, undoubtedly. If it can be fulfilled, you will do a great service to both races and to the country. We shall watch your course with the greatest interest I wish especially to know what class of whites come in. Are they Irish, Germans, or native Americans ? Please write, also, how much they contribute towards the support of the school, and every other fact hearing upon the question.

With kind remembrance to the other teachers, I remain,

Yours very truly,
Ednah D. Cheney
              

For the Committee on Teachers.

In connection with the above, the following letter from Miss Hosmer, to the Secretary of the Roxbury Society, will be read with interest: —

"The poor white people about here are ambitious to have their children taught. I have met and talked with scores of them. They are quite as ignorant as the colored population. If you ask their age, they give the usual reply of the blacks, " I don't rightly know, ma'am." They are just as destitute, and in point of health the colored people have an untold advantage. They are somewhat troubled to know that the colored people are learning to read so rapidly, while their own (I speak only of the women) remain untaught; and to such have said, " If you will send them to our school I will gladly teach them; and, to my great surprise, a class of twenty are ready to enter. I cannot feel willing to confine my labors exclusively to the colored portion of
his community, like many of the teachers. The poor among the white class, when first
considered, appeal less to your sympathy when the evils accruing from slavery are
onsidered: but you find they too have been the victims of oppression; and, were you here, I know you would deplore the system of slavery as much for its effect upon the
vhite as upon the colored people.  

What you sent out in boxes thirty and thirty-one,  felt you designed for the freedmen, and have given as I felt you would wish me to But when the white children come into our school, I shall desire to treat them without distinction, and to clothe and teach them in the same spirit. I wish you would write me of your feelings on this subject."

 

"Native Teachers" and Normal Schools

 

We attribute a great deal of importance to the work of training Southern teachers, for obvious reasons. By employing them, we are saved the cost of transportation; we place, in some degree, the work of reconstruction in the hands of native Southerners; and we adopt the very best means to foster the spirit of harmony in this people, which is so essential to our future progress.

 

"The Work of Training Southern Teachers"

Charleston, May 23, 1865.

Our schools continue here about the same as last month. The number of colored scholars has rather fallen off, by reason of sickness and a very large emigration to the islands; the white children, on the other hand, are coming in in larger numbers as the prejudices wear away, and their parents are less able to pay for their tuition in private schools. The organization and discipline, as well as progress, of these colored schools, is really astonishing, when we consider the short time they have been in operation; and too much credit cannot be given to Mr. Redpath and his teachers for this result. The successful working of the schools, and the harmony with which white and colored teachers work together in the same schools, will be a powerful aid in bringing about a feeling of social harmony in this community, and a disposition to acknowledge the great principle of political equality.

As for social equality, that will take care of itself; and I am in no way disposed to press it. I see agencies at work which will accomplish all that we desire, if we do not interfere with them by over-haste and hot temper. Chief among these is this school-system. We have in all about a hundred teachers, classified nearly as follows: thirty Northern teachers, forty-five Southern whites, twenty-five Southern colored. The Northern teachers, being distributed among all the schools, generally as principals, do not generally devote themselves to particular classes, but spend their time in teaching their assistants how to teach.

We attribute a great deal of importance to the work of training Southern teachers, for obvious reasons. By employing them, we are saved the cost of transportation; we place, in some degree, the work of reconstruction in the hands of native Southerners; and we adopt the very best means to foster the spirit of harmony in this people, which is so essential to our future progress.

This State is such a complete wreck, that the Northern societies must do a large part of re-organizing; and you must be thankful that you have in your hands a work much broader than your name indicates. We, your agents here, feel that we are carrying out the spirit, if not the letter, of our commissions, in extending our relief and co-operation to all the good works that are going on here.

Thanks to Mr. Redpath's sagacity and firmness, we have three very important results: the practical equality of the races in the schools; a uniform system of organization, under which the societies can and do labor harmoniously, purely in the way of co-operation; and the entire exclu­sion of sectarianism for the schools.

With a view to the great object of training native teachers for future usefulness, I have set on foot two Normal classes. One consists of the teachers at present employed in the schools, whom I invite to meet me twice a week, in the afternoon, for instruction in the art and methods of teaching. I usually have about thirty pre­sent; and they appear intelligent, interested and very desirous to improve. There is no effort made to force any social equality, further than that all shall sit in the same room; but I often see white and colored sitting side by side, and talking together intimately. In connection with this, there are private lessons in reading, geography (under the Rev. Mr. Stebbins), algebra, &c, for those that desire them.

The other class I trust will meet your approval. We advertised that those who wished to fit themselves for situations in the fall, should have facilities for it; and, with this view, established ft regular school, under Mrs. Morse, at her house. This is only the third day, and she has twenty-sis young ladies; about a third of them white. She is beginning at the very foundation with them. We have not done much outside of the city, not deeming it wise to do so until fall. At that time, if things go on well, there will probably be needed a considerable number of young men, to be stationed as superintendents of schools in different districts, as well as of ladies, to do throughout the State what has been done on St. Helena and in Charleston.

At Georgetown, Mr. Folsom, the Superintend­ent of Freedmen, very kindly undertook to act for us; and we empowered him to employ native teachers — white or colored — at ten dollars a month. He knew some who were entirely com­petent, and said that the school buildings were under his control. So, in the' fall, we can begin regular operations there, with Northern teachers. I expect to go to Orangeburg in a few days, and will look into matters there. We have an im­mense work before us; and now that the Sanitary and Christian Commissions are about to wind up their operations, the people must pour out their money just as freely as ever, for this great work of educating the South.

School accommodations will be a serious question here in the fall; and I am beginning to see what extension can be made: for I think our white pupils will increase very much. Will not somebody give a thousand dollars to repair and fit up an old barn of a colored church which has been turned over to our use? It can be made to accommodate two hundred and fifty scholars, with four or five comfortable recitation rooms. Perhaps it can be done for less. I have spoken as if we were sure of continuing here in the fall, which depends entirely on the temper of the military. At any rate, there is the work to be done, and you cannot make too large prepara­tions in the way of means. Our schools will close by middle or end of July, and by that time we shall know what we want.

W. F. Allen

--William Allen, "Extracts from Teachers' Letters," The Freedmen's Record, July, 1865, 112-113

 

 

Post-War Opportunities for Advanced Education for the Freedmen

 

 

Normal School Va. Oct 4th 1868.

Dear Miss Chase

I will venture to send sen you another letter hoping you may get it I have not heard a word from you for the last year which keeps me in a anxious state dear Miss Chase I cannot tell you how very anxious I am to hear from you – if you get this letter I will send my picture as I prommise it and would like you to have one pleas if we are fortunate enough to take up our corresponds again for I would like much to have a picture of you and Miss Lucy – I will give you an account of my self. I am here in virginneia at school the school you wrote to tell me about paying my way by working the girls work in doors and the boys on the farm the girls all have all the domestic affairs wash for the boys sow all the scrubbing to do there are about 14 girls and 22 boys five from Charleston Mr Jefferson are one of the number I like it very much indeed wee are very comfortably fix our chambers are neatly furnish with cottage setts and every conviientary wee have water pipes in the house a bathing room –

I will tell you the rules the bell ring at half pass five allowing us half our to dress then it ring at six for breakfast tha allow five minuts if you are not there in time you are mark the bell ring at eleven for the boys to stop work and fix for dinner and school we dine at 12 clear up our ineing room and get in school by one we have school from one to five and then we recite [?] about a half our and the bell ring for evening prayers after prayers wee go in to supper at half pass seven the bell ring for us to study wee study untill half pass 8 the bell ring for us to get ready for bed at nine it ring for us to out the lights – and the best of it wee have such a very kind Miss [?] Matron She tries in every way to make us happy each schollers love her and y would not be happy without her She is a Miss Breck from Massachusetts – I hear from home pretty often Sarah did not come She is at home my sisters did ot think wise for both of us to leave home the rebs have taken Mr Sumners school building at the corner of Morris and Jaspser Court where we spent those delightful ours in the afternoons trying to gain knowledge thea have ift for the colord children The picture you gave I had it neatly frame in a guild frame & have sent to have it here with me Louissia Elliott exspect to come on very soom Louissia are one of your schollars – dear Miss Chase I am very anxious to see you I often wish you were here to teach I trust I will have the pleasure of seeing you once more. Should we not meet on earth may we meet in heaven where partins is no more give my best love to Miss Lucy tell her I will write her next –

Good bye with a double portion of love. Yours truly Julia A. Rutledge

[Notes in pencil at bottom:] xcuse my anxiety Hampton churchletter Aunt Nancy & Susan

[Note in pencil on side: Attend!]

 


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