Education of the Negroes Since 1860 by Curry, J. L. M. (Jabez Lamar Monroe)

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SINCE 1860


J. L. M. CURRY, LL. D. _Secretary of the Trustees of the John F. Slater Fund_



The Trustees of the John F. Slater Fund propose to publish from time to time papers that relate to the education of the colored race. These papers are designed to furnish information to those who are concerned in the administration of schools, and also to those who by their official stations are called upon to act or to advise in respect to the care of such institutions.

The Trustees believe that the experimental period in the education of the blacks is drawing to a close. Certain principles that were doubted thirty years ago now appear to be generally recognized as sound. In the next thirty years better systems will undoubtedly prevail, and the aid of the separate States is likely to be more and more freely bestowed. There will also be abundant room for continued generosity on the part of individuals and associations. It is to encourage and assist the workers and the thinkers that these papers will be published.

Each paper, excepting the first number (made up chiefly of official documents), will be the utterance of the writer whose name is attached to it, the Trustees disclaiming in advance all responsibility for the statement of facts and opinions.



The purpose of this paper is to put into permanent form a narrative of what has been done at the South for the education of the negro since 1860. The historical and statistical details may seem dry and uninteresting, but we can understand the significance of this unprecedented educational movement only by a study of its beginnings and of the difficulties which had to be overcome. The present generation, near as it is to the genesis of the work, cannot appreciate its magnitude, nor the greatness of the victory which has been achieved, without a knowledge of the facts which this recital gives in connected order. The knowledge is needful, also, for a comprehension of the future possible scope and kind of education to be given to the Afro-American race. In the field of education we shall be unwise not to reckon with such forces as custom, physical constitution, heredity, racial characteristics and possibilities, and not to remember that these and other causes may determine the limitations under which we must act. The education of this people has a far-reaching and complicated connection with their destiny, with our institutions, and possibly with the Dark Continent, which may assume an importance akin, if not superior, to what it had centuries ago. The partition of its territory, the international questions which are springing up, and the effect of contact with and government by a superior race, must necessarily give an enhanced importance to Africa as a factor in commerce, in relations of governments, and in civilization. England will soon have an unbroken line of territorial possessions from Egypt to the Cape of Good Hope. Germany, France, Portugal, Italy, Spain, possibly Russia, will soon have such footholds in Africa as, whatever else may occur, will tend to the development of century-paralyzed resources.

What other superior races have done, and are doing, for the government and uplifting of the inferior races, which, from treaty or conquest, have been placed under their responsible jurisdiction, may help in the solution of our problem. Italy had a grand question in its unification; Prussia a graver one in the nationalization of Germany, taxing the statesmanship of Stein, Bismarck, and their co-laborers; Great Britain, in the administration of her large and widely remote colonial dependencies with their different races; but our problem has peculiar difficulties which have not confronted other governments, and therefore demands the best powers of philanthropist, sociologist, and statesman.

The emergence of a nation from barbarism to a general diffusion of intelligence and property, to health in the social and civil relations; the development of an inferior race into a high degree of enlightenment; the overthrow of customs and institutions which, however indefensible, have their seat in tradition and a course of long observance; the working out satisfactorily of political, sociological, and ethical problems—are all necessarily slow, requiring patient and intelligent study of the teachings of history and the careful application of something more than mere empirical methods. Civilization, freedom, a pure religion, are not the speedy outcome of revolutions and cataclysms any more than has been the structure of the earth. They are the slow evolution of orderly and creative causes, the result of law and preordained principles.

The educational work described in this paper has been most valuable, but it has been so far necessarily tentative and local. It has lacked broad and definite generalization, and, in all its phases, comprehensive, philosophical consideration. As auxiliary to a thorough study and ultimate better plans, the Slater Fund, from time to time, will have prepared and published papers bearing on different phases of the negro question.

I. The history of the negro on this continent is full of pathetic and tragic romance, and of startling, unparalleled incident. The seizure in Africa, the forcible abduction and cruel exportation, the coercive enslavement, the subjection to environments which emasculate a race of all noble aspirations and doom inevitably to hopeless ignorance and inferiority, living in the midst of enlightenments and noblest civilization and yet forbidden to enjoy the benefits of which others were partakers, for four years amid battle and yet, for the most part, having no personal share in the conflict, by statute and organic law and law of nations held in fetters and inequality, and then, in the twinkling of an eye, lifted from bondage to freedom, from slavery to citizenship, from dependence on others and guardianship to suffrage and eligibility to office—can be predicated of no other race. Other peoples, after long and weary years of discipline and struggle, against heaviest odds, have won liberty and free government. This race, almost without lifting a hand, unappreciative of the boon except in the lowest aspects of it, and unprepared for privileges and responsibilities, has been lifted to a plane of citizenship and freedom, such as is enjoyed, in an equal degree, by no people in the world outside of the United States.

Common schools in all governments have been a slow growth, reluctantly conceded, grudgingly supported, and perfected after many experiments and failures and with heavy pecuniary cost. Within a few years after emancipation, free and universal education has been provided for the negro, without cost to himself, and chiefly by the self-imposed taxes of those who, a few years before, claimed his labor and time without direct wage or pecuniary compensation.

II. Slavery, recognized by the then international law and the connivance and patronage of European sovereigns, existed in all the colonies prior to the Declaration of Independence, and was reinforced by importation of negroes from Africa in foreign and New England and New York vessels. In course of time it was confined to the Southern States, and the negroes increased in numbers at a more rapid rate than did the whites, even after the slave trade was abolished and declared piracy.

For a long time there was no general exclusion by law of the slaves from the privileges of education. The first prohibitory and punitive laws were directed against unlawful assemblages of negroes, and subsequently of free negroes and mulattoes, as their influence in exciting discontent or insurrection was deprecated and guarded against. Afterwards, legislation became more general in the South, prohibiting meetings for teaching reading and writing. The Nat Turner insurrection in Southampton County, Virginia, in 1831, awakened the Southern States to a consciousness of the perils, which might environ or destroy them, from combinations of excited, inflamed, and ill-advised negroes.

As documents and newspapers tending to inflame discontent and insurrection were supposed to have been the immediate provocation to this conspiracy for murder of whites and for freedom of the blacks, laws were passed against publishing and circulating such documents among the colored population, and strengthening the prohibitions and penalties against education.

Severe and general as were these laws, they rarely applied, and were seldom, if ever, enforced, against teaching of individuals or of groups on plantations, or at the homes of the owners. It was often true that the mistress of a household, or her children, would teach the house servants, and on Sundays include a larger number. There were also Sunday Schools in which black children were taught to read, notably the school in which Stonewall Jackson was a leader. It is pleasant to find recorded in the memoir of Dr. Boyce, a Trustee of this Fund from its origin until his death, that, as an editor, a preacher, and a citizen, he was deeply interested in the moral and religious instruction of the negroes.

After a most liberal estimate for the efforts made to teach the negroes, still the fact exists that, as a people, they were wholly uneducated in schools. Slavery doomed the millions to ignorance, and in this condition they were when the war began.

III. Almost synchronously with the earliest occupation of any portion of the seceding States by the Union Army, efforts were begun to give the negroes some schooling. In September, 1861, under the guns of Fortress Monroe, a school was opened for the “contrabands of war.” In 1862, schools were extended to Washington, Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Newport News, and afterwards to the Port Royal islands on the coast of South Carolina, to Newbern and Roanoke Island in North Carolina. The proclamation of emancipation, January 1, 1863, gave freedom to all slaves reached by the armies, increased the refugees, and awakened a fervor of religious and philanthropic enthusiasm for meeting the physical, moral, and intellectual wants of those suddenly thrown upon charity. In October, 1863, General Banks, then commanding the Department of the Gulf, created commissioners of enrollment, who established the first public schools for Louisiana. Seven were soon in operation, with twenty-three teachers and an average attendance of 1422 scholars. On March 22, 1864, he issued General Order, No. 38, which constituted a Board of Education “for the rudimental instruction of the freedmen” in the Department, so as to “place within their reach the elements of knowledge.”

The Board was ordered to establish common schools, to employ teachers, to acquire school sites, to erect school buildings where no proper or available ones for school purposes existed, to purchase and provide necessary books, stationery, apparatus, and a well selected library, to regulate the course of studies, and “to have the authority and perform the same duties that assessors, supervisors, and trustees had in the Northern States in the matter of establishing and conducting common schools.” For the performance of the duties enjoined, the Board was empowered to “assess and levy a school tax upon real and personal property, including crops of plantations.” These taxes were to be sufficient to defray expense and cost of establishing, furnishing, and conducting the schools for the period of one year. When the tax list and schedules should be placed in the hands of the Parish Provost Marshal, he was to collect and pay over within thirty days to the School Board. Schools previously established were transferred to this Board; others were opened, and in December, 1864, they reported under their supervision 95 schools, 162 teachers, and 9,571 scholars. This system continued until December, 1865, when the power to levy the tax was suspended. An official report of later date says: “In this sad juncture the freedmen expressed a willingness to endure and even petitioned for increased taxation in order that means for supporting their schools might be obtained.”

On December 17, 1862, Col. John Eaton was ordered by General Grant to assume a general supervision of freedmen in the Department of Tennessee and Arkansas. In the early autumn of that year schools had been established, and they were multiplied during 1863 and 1864. In the absence of responsibility and supervision there grew up abuses and complaints. By some “parties engaged in the work” of education, “exorbitant charges were made for tuition,” and agents and teachers, “instead of making common cause for the good of those they came to benefit, set about detracting, perplexing, and vexing each other.” “Parties and conflicts had arisen.” “Frauds had appeared in not a few instances—evil minded, irresponsible, or incompetent persons imposing upon those not prepared to defeat or check them.” “Bad faith to fair promises had deprived the colored people of their just dues.”[1]

Footnote 1:

See report of Chaplain Warren, 1864, relating to colored schools.

On September 26, 1864, the Secretary of War, through Adjutant General Thomas, issued Order No. 28, in which he said: “To prevent confusion and embarrassment, the General Superintendent of Freedmen will designate officers, subject to his orders, as Superintendents of colored schools, through whom he will arrange the location of all schools, teachers, occupation of houses, and other details pertaining to the education of the freedmen.” In accordance with this order, Col. Eaton removed his headquarters from Vicksburg to Memphis. On October 20, 1864, he issued sixteen rules and regulations for the guidance of superintendents and teachers of colored schools in his supervision. These instructions to subordinates were wise and provided for the opening of a sufficient number of schools, for the payment of tuition fees from 25 cents to $1.25 per month for each scholar, according to the ability of the parents; for the admission free of those who could not pay and the furnishing of clothing by the aid of industrial schools, for the government of teachers in connection with the societies needing them, &c. The “industrial schools” were schools in which sewing was taught, and in which a large quantity of the clothing and material sent from the North was made over or made up for freedmen’s use, and were highly “useful in promoting industrious habits and in teaching useful arts of housewifery.” The supervision under such a competent head caused great improvement in the work, but department efforts were hindered by some representatives of the benevolent societies who did not heartily welcome the more orderly military supervision. An Assistant Superintendent, March 31, 1865, reports, in and around Vicksburg and Natchez, 30 schools, 60 teachers, and 4,393 pupils enrolled; in Memphis, 1,590 pupils, and in the entire supervision, 7,360 in attendance.

General Eaton submitted a report of his laborious work which is full of valuable information. Naturally, some abatement must be made from conclusions which were based on the wild statements of excited freedmen, or the false statements of interested persons. “Instinct of unlettered reason” caused a hegira of the blacks to camps of the Union Army, or within protected territory. The “negro population floated or was kicked about at will.” Strict supervision became urgent to secure “contraband information” and service, and protect the ignorant, deluded people from unscrupulous harpies. “Mental and moral enlightenment” was to be striven for, even in those troublous times, and it was fortunate that so capable and faithful an officer as General Eaton was in authority.

All the operations of the supervisors of schools did not give satisfaction, for the Inspector of Schools in South Carolina and Georgia, on October 13, 1865, says: “The Bureau does not receive that aid from the Government and Government officials it had a right to expect, and really from the course of the military officials in this Department, you might think that the only enemies to the Government are the agents of the Bureau.”

IV. By act of Congress of March 3, 1865, the Freedmen’s Bureau was created. The scope of its jurisdiction and work extended far beyond education. It embraced abandoned lands and the supply of the negroes with food and clothing, and during 1865 as many as 148,000 were reported as receiving rations. The Quartermaster and Commissary Departments were placed at the service of the agents of the Bureau, and, in addition to freedom, largesses were lavishly given to “reach the great and imperative necessities of the situation.” Large and comprehensive powers and resources were placed in the hands of the Bureau, and limitations of the authority of the Government were disregarded in order to meet the gravest problem of the century. Millions of recently enslaved negroes, homeless, penniless, ignorant, were to be saved from destitution or perishing, to be prepared for the sudden boon of political equality, to be made self-supporting citizens and to prevent their freedom from becoming a curse to themselves and their liberators. The Commissioner was authorized “to seize, hold, use, lease, or sell all buildings and tenements and any lands appertaining to the same, or otherwise formally held, under color of title by the late Confederate States, and buildings or lands held in trust for the same, and to use the same, or appropriate the proceeds derived therefrom, to the education of the freed people.” He was empowered also to “coöperate with private benevolent associations in aid of the freedmen.” The Bureau was attached to the War Department and was at first limited in duration to one year, but was afterwards prolonged. General O. O. Howard was appointed Commissioner, with assistants. He says he was invested with “almost unlimited authority” and that the act and orders gave “great scope and liberty of action.” “Legislative, judicial, and executive powers were combined, reaching all the interests of the freedmen.” On June 2, 1865, the President ordered all officers of the United States to turn over to the Bureau “all property, funds, lands, and records in any way connected with freedmen and refugees.” This bestowment of despotic power was not considered unwise because of the peculiar exigencies of the times and the condition of the freedmen, who, being suddenly emancipated by a dynamic process, were without schools, or teachers, or means to procure them. To organize the work, a Superintendent of Schools was appointed for each State. Besides the regular appropriation by Congress, the Military authorities aided the Bureau. Transportation was furnished to teachers, books, and school furniture, and material aid was given to all engaged in education.

General Howard used his large powers to get into his custody the funds scattered in the hands of many officers, which could be made available for the freedmen. Funds bearing different names were contributed to the work of “colored education.”[2] During the war some of the States sent money, to officers serving in the South, to buy substitutes from among the colored people to fill up their quota under the draft. A portion of the bounty money thus sent, by an order of Gen. B. F. Butler, August 4, 1864, was retained in the hands of officers who had been superintendents of negro affairs, and by the President’s order of June 2, 1865 was turned over to the disbursing officers of the Bureau of Freedmen. After the organization of the Bureau, Gen. Howard instructed agents to turn money, held by them, over to the chief disbursing officer of the Bureau. This was in no sense public money, but belonged to individuals, enlisted as contraband recruits to fill the State quotas. What was unclaimed of what was held in trust under Gen. Butler’s order was used for educational purposes.

Footnote 2:

See Spec. Ed. Rep., District of Columbia, p. 259.

In the early part of 1867, the accounting officers of the Treasury Department ascertained that numerous frauds were being perpetrated on colored claimants for bounties under acts of Congress. Advising with General Howard, the Treasury officials drew a bill, which Congress enacted into a law, devolving upon the Commissioner the payment of bounties to colored soldiers and sailors. This enlarged responsibility gave much labor to General Howard, in his already multifarious and difficult duties, and made more honorable the acquittal which he secured when an official investigation was subsequently ordered upon his administration of the affairs of the Bureau.

The Act of Congress of July 16, 1866, gave a local fund, which was expended in the district in which it accrued, and besides there were general appropriations for the support of the Bureau, which were, in part, available for schools.

Mr. Ingle, writing of school affairs in the District in 1867 and 1868, says:

“Great aid was given at this period by the Freedmen’s Bureau, which, not limiting its assistance to schools for primary instruction, did much toward establishing Howard University, in which no distinction was made on account of race, color, or sex, though it had originally been intended for the education of negro men alone.”

The monograph of Edward Ingle on “The Negro in the District of Columbia”—one of the valuable Johns Hopkins University Studies—gives such a full and easily accessible account of the education of the negroes in the District, that it is needless to enlarge the pages of this paper by a repetition of what he has so satisfactorily done.

The Bureau found many schools in localities which had been within the lines of the Union armies, and these, with the others established by its agency, were placed under more systematic supervision. In some States, schools were carried on entirely by aid of the funds of the Bureau, but it had the coöperation and assistance of various religious and benevolent societies. On July 1, 1866, Mr. Alvord, Inspector of Schools and Finances, reported 975 schools in fifteen States and the District, 1,405 teachers, and 90,778 scholars. He mentioned as worthy of note a change of sentiment among better classes in regard to freedmen’s schools, and that the schools were steadily gaining in numbers, attainments, and general influence. On January 17, 1867, General Howard reports to the Secretary of War $115,261.56 as used for schools, and the Quartermaster’s Department as still rendering valuable help. Education “was carried on vigorously during the year,” a better feeling prevailing, and 150,000 freedmen and children “occupied earnestly in the study of books.” The taxes, which had been levied for schools in Louisiana, under the administration of T. W. Conway, had been discontinued, but $500,000 were asked for schools and asylums. In 1867, the Government appointed Generals Steedman and Fullerton as Inspectors, and from General Howard’s vehement reply to their report—which the War Department declines to permit an inspection of—it appears that their criticisms were decidedly unfavorable. Civilians in the Bureau were now displaced by army officers. In July, 1869, Mr. Alvord mentions decided progress in educational returns, increasing thirst for knowledge, greater public favor, and the establishment of 39 training schools for teachers, with 3,377 pupils. Four months later, General Howard says “hostility to schools and teachers has in great measure ceased.” He reported the cost of the Bureau at $13,029,816, and earnestly recommended “the national legislature” to establish a general system of free schools, “furnishing to all children of a suitable age such instruction in the rudiments of learning as would fit them to discharge intelligently the duties of free American citizens.” Solicitor Whiting had previously recommended that the head of the Freedmen’s Bureau should be a cabinet officer, but this was not granted, and the Bureau was finally discontinued—its affairs being transferred to the War Department by Act of Congress, June 10, 1872. It is apparent from the reports of Sprague, Assistant Commissioner in Florida, and of Alvord in 1867 and 1870, that the agents of the Bureau sometimes used their official position and influence for organizing the freedmen for party politics and to control elections. A full history of the Freedmen’s Bureau would furnish an interesting chapter in negro education, but a report from Inspector Shriver on October 3, 1873, says the Department has “no means of verifying the amount of retained bounty fund;” and on December 4, 1873, the Department complains of “the incomplete and disordered condition of the records of the late Bureau.” (See Ex. Doc. No. 10, 43d Con., 1st Ses., and Ho. Mis. Doc. No. 87, 42d Con., 3d Ses.)

That no injustice may be done to any one, the answer of the “Record and Pension Office, War Department,” May 21, 1894, to my application for statistics drawn from the records, is embodied in this paper. So far as the writer has been able to investigate, no equally full and official account has heretofore been given.

* * * * *

“The following consolidated statement, prepared from records of Superintendents of Education of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, shows the number of schools, teachers, and pupils in each State, under control of said Bureau, and the amount expended for Schools, Asylums, construction and rental of school buildings, transportation of teachers, purchase of books, etc.:—


Number of Schools 1,264 Number of Teachers 1,793 Number of Pupils 111,193

Amount Expended by Bureau $ 225,722 94 Received from Freedmen 18,500 00 Received from Benevolent Associations 83,200 00


Number of Schools 1,673 Number of Teachers 2,032 Number of Pupils 109,245

Amount Expended $ 415,330 00 From Freedmen 17,200 00 From Benevolent Associations 65,087 00


Number of Schools 1,739 Number of Teachers 2,104 Number of Pupils 102,562

Amount Expended $ 909,210 20 From Freedmen 42,130 00 From Benevolent Associations 154,736 50


Number of Schools 1,942 Number of Teachers 2,472 Number of Pupils 108,485

Amount Expended $ 591,267 56 From Freedmen 85,726 00 From Benevolent Associations 27,200 00


Number of Schools 1,900 Number of Teachers 2,376 Number of Pupils 108,135

Amount Expended $ 480,737 82 From Freedmen 17,187 00 From Benevolent Associations 4,240 00

“This statement or statistical table is made up from the reports of the Superintendents of Education of the several States under the control of the Bureau from 1865 to 1870, when government aid to the freedmen’s schools was withdrawn. It embraces the number of schools established or maintained, the number of teachers employed, the number of pupils, and the amount expended for school purposes in each State and the District of Columbia. The expenditures also include the amounts contributed by the Bureau for the construction and maintenance of asylums for the freedmen, which cannot be separated from the totals given.

“The table is based upon the reports of the School Superintendents, and has been prepared with great care. The results thus obtained, however, differ in some material respects from the figures given by the Commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau in his annual reports. These discrepancies, which this Department is unable to reconcile or explain, will be seen by a comparison of the table with the following statement made from the reports of the Commissioner:


Number of Schools 975 Number of Teachers 1,405 Number of Pupils 90,778

_Disbursements for School Purposes._

By the Bureau $ 123,659 39 By the Benevolent Associations 82,200 00 By the Freedmen 18,500 00 ——————————— Total $224,359 39


Number of Schools 1,839 Number of Teachers 2,087 Number of Pupils 111,442

_Disbursements for School Purposes._

By the Bureau $ 531,345 48 By the Benevolent Associations 65,087 01 By the Freedmen 17,200 00 ——————————— Total $613,632 49


Number of Schools 1,831 Number of Teachers 2,295 Number of Pupils 104,327

_Disbursements for School Purposes._

By the Bureau $ 965,896 67 By Benevolent Associations 700,000 00 By the Freedmen [est’d] 360,000 00 ————————————— Total $2,025,896 67


Number of Schools 2,118 Number of Teachers 2,455 Number of Pupils 114,522

_Disbursements for School Purposes._

By the Bureau $ 924,182 16 By Benevolent Associations 365,000 00 By the Freedmen [est’d] 190,000 00 ————————————— Total $1,479,182 16


Number of Schools 2,677 Number of Teachers 3,300 Number of Pupils 149,581

_Disbursements for School Purposes._

By the Bureau $ 976,853 29 By Benevolent Associations 360,000 00 By the Freedmen [est’d] 200,000 00 ————————————— Total $1,536,853 29

“It has been found impracticable to ascertain the amounts expended by the Freedmen’s Bureau for Howard and Fisk Universities and the schools at Hampton, Atlanta, and New Orleans, the items of expenditure for these schools not being separated in the reports from the gross expenditures for school purposes.”

* * * * *

A committee of investigation upon General Howard’s use of the Bureau for his pecuniary aggrandizement were divided in opinion, but a large majority exonerated him from censure and commended him for the excellent performance of difficult duties. An equally strong and unanimous verdict of approval was rendered by a Court of Inquiry, General Sherman presiding, which was convened under an Act of Congress, February 13, 1874.

V. It has been stated that the Bureau was authorized to act in coöperation with benevolent or religious societies in the education of the negroes. A number of these organizations had done good service before the establishment of the Bureau and continued their work afterwards. The teachers earliest in the field were from the American Missionary Association, Western Freedmen’s Aid Commission, American Baptist Home Mission Society, and the Society of Friends. After the surrender of Vicksburg and the occupation of Natchez, others were sent by the United Presbyterians, Reformed Presbyterians, United Brethren in Christ, Northwestern Freedmen’s Aid Commission, and the National Freedmen’s Aid Association. The first colored school in Vicksburg was started in 1863 by the United Brethren in the basement of a Methodist church.

The American Missionary Association was the chief body, apart from the Government, in the great enterprise of meeting the needs of the negroes. It did not relinquish its philanthropic work because army officers and the Federal Government were working along the same line. Up to 1866 its receipts were swollen by “the aid of the Free Will Baptists, the Wesleyans, the Congregationalists, and friends in Great Britain.” From Great Britain it is estimated that “a million of dollars in money and clothing were contributed through various channels for the freedmen.” The third decade of the Association, 1867–1876, was a marked era in its financial history. The Freedmen’s Bureau turned over a large sum, which could be expended only in buildings. A congressional report says that between December, 1866, and May, 1870, the Association received $243,753.22. Since the Association took on a more distinctive and separate denominational character, because of the withdrawal of other denominations into organizations of their own, it, along with its church work, has prosecuted, with unabated energy and marked success, its educational work among the negroes. It has now under its control or support—

Chartered Institutions 6 Normal Schools 29 Common Schools 43


Schools 78 Instructors 389 Pupils 12,609


Theological 47 Collegiate 57 College Preparatory 192 Normal 1,091 Grammar 2,378 Intermediate 3,692 Primary 5,152

Some of these schools are not specially for negroes. It would be unjust not to give the Association much credit for Atlanta University and for Hampton Normal and Industrial Institute, which are not included in the above recapitulation, as the latter stands easily first among all the institutions designed for negro development, both for influence and usefulness. During the war and for a time afterwards, the school work of the Association was necessarily primary and transitional, but it grew into larger proportions, with higher standards, and its normal and industrial work deserves special mention and commendation. From 1860 to October 1, 1893, its expenditures in the South for freedmen, directly and indirectly, including church extension as well as education, have been $11,610,000.

VI. In 1866 was organized “The Freedmen’s Aid and Southern Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.” Under that compact, powerful, well-disciplined, enthusiastic organization, more than $6,000,000 have been expended in the work of education of negroes. Dr. Hartzell said, before the World’s Congress in Chicago, that Wilberforce University, at Xenia, Ohio, was established in 1857 as a college for colored people, and “continues to be the chief educational centre of African Methodism in the United States.” He reports, as under various branches of Methodism, 65 institutions of learning for colored people, 388 teachers, 10,100 students, $1,905,150 of property, and $652,500 of endowment. Among these is Meharry Medical College of high standard and excellent discipline, with dental and pharmaceutical departments as well as medical. Near 200 students have been graduated. The School of Mechanic Arts in Central Tennessee College, under the management of Professor Sedgwick, has a fine outfit, and has turned out telescopes and other instruments, which command a ready and remunerative market in this and other countries.

VII. On April 16, 1862, slavery was abolished in the District of Columbia. By November, 13,000 refugees had collected at Washington, Alexandria, Hampton, and Norfolk. Under an unparalleled exigency, instant action was necessary. The lack of educational privileges led Christian societies to engage in educational work, at least in the rudiments of learning, for the benefit of these people, who were eager to be instructed. Even where education had not previously been a part of the functions of certain organizations, the imperative need of the liberated left no option as to duty. With the assistance of the Baptist Free Mission Society and of the Baptist Home Mission Society, schools were established in Alexandria as early as January 1, 1862, and were multiplied through succeeding years. After Appomattox, the Baptist Home Mission Society was formally and deliberately committed to the education of the blacks, giving itself largely to the training of teachers and preachers. In May, 1892, the Society had, under its management, 24 schools with 216 instructors, 4,861 pupils, of whom 1,756 were preparing to teach, school property worth $750,000 and endowment funds of $156,000. Probably, not less than 50,000 have attended the various schools. Since 1860, $2,451,859.65 have been expended for the benefit of the negroes. The Superintendent of Education says: “The aggregate amount appropriated for the salaries of teachers from the time the Society commenced its work until January, 1883, was:—District of Columbia, $59,243.57; Virginia, $65,254.44; North Carolina, $41,788.90; South Carolina, $29,683.71; Florida, $3,164.16; Georgia, $26,963.21; Alabama, $4,960.37; Mississippi, $6,611.05; Louisiana, $39,168.25; Texas, $2,272.18; Arkansas, $150; Tennessee, $57,898.86; Kentucky, $1,092.54; Missouri, $300. The following gives the aggregate amount appropriated for teachers and for all other purposes such as land, buildings, etc., from January, 1883, to January, 1893:—District of Columbia, $103,110.01; Virginia, $193,974.08; North Carolina, $142,861.95; South Carolina, $137,157.79; Florida, $55,923.96; Georgia, $314,061.48; Alabama, $35,405.86; Mississippi, $86,019.70; Louisiana, $33,720.93; Texas, $131,225.27; Arkansas, $13,206.20; Tennessee, $164,514.05; Kentucky, $49,798.56; Missouri, $6,543.13. Until January, 1883, the appropriations for teachers and for lands, buildings, etc., were kept as separate items. I have already given the appropriations for the teachers up to that date. For grounds and buildings, $421,119.50 were appropriated.” In connection with the Spelman Seminary and the Male School in Atlanta, there has been established, under intelligent and discriminating rules, a first class training department for teachers. A new commodious structure well adapted to the purpose, costing $55,000, was opened in December. At Spelman there is an admirable training school for nurses, where the pupils have hospital practice. Shaw University at Raleigh has the flourishing Leonard Medical School and a well equipped pharmacy.

VIII. The Presbyterian Church at the North, in May, 1865, adopted a deliverance in favor of special efforts in behalf of the “lately enslaved African race.” From the 28th annual report of the Board of Missions for Freedmen, it appears that, besides building churches, special exertions have been put forth “in establishing parochial schools, in planting academies and seminaries, in equipping and supporting a large and growing university.” The report mentions fifteen schools,—three in North Carolina, four in South Carolina, three in Arkansas, and one in each of the States of Texas, Mississippi, Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee. $1,280,000 have been spent. “In the high schools and parochial schools, we have (May, 1893) 10,520 students who are being daily moulded under Presbyterian educational influence.” The United Presbyterian Church reports for May, 1893, an enrollment in schools of 2,558. The Southern Presbyterians have a Theological Seminary in Birmingham, Alabama, which was first opened in Tuskaloosa in 1877.

IX. The Episcopal Church, through the Commission on Church Work among the Colored People, during the seven years of its existence, 1887–1893, has expended $272,068, but the expenditure is fairly apportioned between ministerial and teaching purposes. The schools are parochial “with an element of industrial training,” and are located in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama, but the “Reports” do not give the number of teachers and scholars. The Friends have some well conducted schools, notably the Schofield in Aiken, South Carolina. They have sustained over 100 schools and have spent $1,004,129. In the mission work of the Roman Catholic Church among the negroes, school work and church work are so blended that it has been very difficult to make a clear separation. Schools exist in Baltimore, Washington, and all the Southern States, but with how many teachers and pupils and at what cost the Report of the Commission for 1893 does not show. A few extracts are given. “We need,” says one, “all the help possible to cope with the Public Schools of Washington. In fact our school facilities are poor, and, unless we can do something to invite children to our Catholic Schools, many of them will lose their faith.” Another person writes: “Next year we shall have to exert all the influence in our power to hold our school. Within two doors of our school a large public school building is being erected; this new public school building will draw pupils away from the Catholic School, unless the latter be made equally efficient in its work.”

X. On February 6, 1867, George Peabody gave to certain gentlemen two million dollars in trust, to be used “for the promotion and encouragement of intellectual, moral, or industrial education among the young of the more destitute portions of the Southwestern States of our Union.” This gift embraced both races, and Dr. Barnas Sears was fortunately selected as the General Agent, to whom was committed practically the administration of the Trust. In his first report he remarked that, in many of the cities aided by the Fund, provision was made for the children of both races, but said that, as the subject of making equal provision for the education of both races was occupying public attention, he thought it the safer and wiser course not to set up schools on a precarious foundation, but to confine help to public schools and make efforts in all suitable ways to improve or have established State systems of education. Still, in some localities aid was judiciously given, and the United States Superintendent of Education for the negroes in North Carolina gave testimony that but for the Peabody aid many of the colored schools would be closed. “Our Superintendents have aided largely in distributing the Peabody Fund in nearly all the States.” “Great good has thereby been accomplished at very little added expense.” The Peabody Fund bent its energies and directed its policy towards securing the establishment of State systems of education which should make adequate and permanent provision for universal education. State authorities would have more power and general influence than individuals, or denominational or private corporations. They represent the whole people, are held to a strict accountability, protect “from the charge of sectarianism and from the liability of being overreached by interested parties.” State systems, besides, have a continuous life and are founded on the just principle that property is taxable for the maintenance of general education. The Fund now acts exclusively with State systems, and continues support to the negroes more efficiently through such agencies.

XI. Congress, by land grants since 1860, has furnished to the Southern States substantial aid in the work of Agricultural and Mechanical education. On March 2, 1867, the Bureau of Education was established for the collection and diffusion of information. This limited sphere of work has been so interpreted and cultivated that the Bureau, under its able Commissioners, especially under the leadership of that most accomplished American educator, Dr. W. T. Harris, has become one of the most efficient and intelligent educational agencies on the continent. To the general survey of the educational field and comparative exhibits of the position of the United States and other enlightened countries, have been added discussions by specialists, and papers on the various phases of educational life, produced by the incorporation of diverse races into our national life or citizenship. The Annual Reports and Circulars of Information contain a vast mass of facts and studies in reference to the colored people, and a digest and collaboration of them would give the most complete history that could be prepared.

The Bureau and the Peabody Education Fund have been most helpful allies in making suggestions in relation to legislation in school matters, and giving, in intelligible, practical form, the experiences of other States, home and foreign, in devising and perfecting educational systems. All the States of the South, as soon as they recovered their governments, put in operation systems of public schools which gave equal opportunities and privileges to both races. It would be singularly unjust not to consider the difficulties, social, political, and pecuniary, which embarrassed the South in the efforts to inaugurate free education. It required unusual heroism to adapt to the new conditions, but she was equal in fidelity and energy to what was demanded for the reconstruction of society and civil institutions. The complete enfranchisement of the negroes and their new political relations, as the result of the war and the new amendments to the Constitution, necessitated an entire reorganization of the systems of public education. To realize what has been accomplished is difficult, at best—impossible, unless we estimate sufficiently the obstacles and compare the facilities of to-day with the ignorance and bondage of a generation ago, when some statutes made it an indictable offence to teach a slave or free person of color. Comparisons with densely populated sections are misleading, for in the South the sparseness and poverty of the population are almost a preventive of good schools. Still the results have been marvellous. Out of 448 cities in the United States, with a population each of 8,000 and over, only 73 are in the South. Of 28, with a population from 100,000 to 1,500,000, only 2 (St. Louis being excluded) are in the South. Of 96, with a population between 25,000 and 100,000, 17 are in the South. The urban population is comparatively small, and agriculture is the chief occupation. Of 858,000 negroes in Georgia, 130,000 are in cities and towns, and 728,000 in the country; in Mississippi, urban colored population, 42,000, rural, 700,000; in South Carolina, urban, 74,000, rural, 615,000; in North Carolina, urban, 66,000, against 498,000 rural; in Alabama, 65,000 against 613,000; in Louisiana, 93,000 against 466,000. The schools for colored children are maintained on an average 89.2 days in a year, and for white children 98.6, but the preponderance of the white over the black race, in towns and cities, helps in part to explain the difference. While the colored population supplies less than its due proportion of pupils to the public schools, and the regularity of attendance is less than with the white, yet the difference in length of school term in schools for white and schools for black children is trifling. In the same grades the wages of teachers are about the same. The annual State school revenue is apportioned impartially among white and black children, so much per capita to each child. In the rural districts the colored people are dependent chiefly upon the State apportionment, which is by law devoted mainly to the payment of teachers’ salaries. Hence, the school-houses and other conveniences in the country for the negroes are inferior, but in the cities the appropriation for schools is general and is allotted to white and colored, according to the needs of each. A small proportion of the school fund comes from colored sources. All the States do not discriminate in assessments of taxable property, but in Georgia, where the ownership is ascertained, the negroes returned in 1892 $14,869,575 of taxable property against $448,883,959 returned by white owners. The amount of property listed for taxation in North Carolina in 1891 was, by white citizens, $234,109,568; by colored citizens, $8,018,446. To an inquiry for official data, the auditor of the State of Virginia says: “The taxes collected in 1891 from white citizens were $2,991,646.24, and from the colored, $163,175.67. The amount paid for public schools for whites, $588,564.87; for negroes, $309,364.15. Add $15,000 for Colored Normal and $80,000 for colored lunatic asylum. Apportioning the criminal expenses between the white and the colored people in the ratio of convicts of each race received into the Penitentiary in 1891, and it shows that the criminal expenses put upon the State annually by the whites are $55,749.57 and by the negroes $204,018.99.”

Of the desire of the colored people for education the proof is conclusive, and of their capacity to receive mental culture there is not the shade of a reason to support an adverse hypothesis. The Bureau of Education furnishes the following suggestive table:


─────────────────┬───────────────────────────────────┬───────────────── Year. │ Common School Enrollment. │ Expenditures. ─────────────────┼─────────────────┬─────────────────┼───────────────── │ White. │ Colored. │ Both Races. ─────────────────┼─────────────────┼─────────────────┼───────────────── 1876–77 │ 1,827,139│ 571,506│ $11,231,073 1877–78 │ 2,034,946│ 675,150│ 12,093,091 1878–79 │ 2,013,684│ 685,942│ 12,174,141 1879–80 │ 2,215,674│ 84,709│ 12,678,685 1880–81 │ 2,234,877│ 802,374│ 13,656,814 1881–82 │ 2,249,263│ 802,982│ 15,241,740 1882–83 │ 2,370,110│ 817,240│ 16,363,471 1883–84 │ 2,546,448│ 1,002,313│ 17,884,558 1884–85 │ 2,676,911│ 1,030,463│ 19,253,874 1885–86 │ 2,773,145│ 1,048,659│ 20,208,113 1886–87 │ 2,975,773│ 1,118,556│ 20,821,969 1887–88 │ 3,110,606│ 1,140,405│ 21,810,158 1888–89 │ 3,197,830│ 1,213,092│ 23,171,878 1889–90 │ 3,402,420│ 1,296,959│ 24,880,107 1890–91 │ 3,570,624│ 1,329,549│ 26,690,310 1891–92 │ 3,607,549│ 1,354,316│ 27,691,488 ─────────────────┴─────────────────┴─────────────────┴─────────────────

Total amount expended in 16 years, $295,851,470.

In 1890–91 there were 79,962 white teachers and 24,150 colored. To the enrollment in common schools should be added 30,000 colored children, who are in normal or secondary schools. The amount expended for education of negroes is not stated separately, but Dr. W. T. Harris estimates that there must have been nearly $75,000,000 expended by the Southern States, in addition to what has been contributed by missionary and philanthropic sources. In Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas, annual grants are made for the support of colored normal and industrial schools.

The negroes must rely very largely upon the public schools for their education, and so they should. They are, and will continue to be, the most efficient factors for uplifting the race. The States, at immense sacrifice, with impartial liberality, have taxed themselves for a population which contributes very little to the State revenues, and nothing could be done more prejudicial to the educational interests of the colored people than to indulge in any hostility or indifference to, or neglect of, these free schools. Denominations and individuals can do nothing more harmful to the race than to foster opposition to the public schools.

XII. A potential agency in enlightening public opinion and in working out the problem of the education of the negro has been the John F. Slater Fund. “In view of the apprehensions felt by all thoughtful persons,” when the duties and privileges of citizenship were suddenly thrust upon millions of lately emancipated slaves, Mr. Slater conceived the purpose of giving a large sum of money to their proper education. After deliberate reflection and much conference, he selected a Board of Trust and placed in their hands a million of dollars. This unique gift, originating wholly with himself, and elaborated in his own mind in most of its details, was for “the uplifting of the lately emancipated population of the Southern States and their posterity, by conferring on them the blessings of Christian education.” “Not only for their own sake, but also for the sake of our common country,” he sought to provide “the means of such education as shall tend to make them good men and good citizens,” associating the instruction of the mind “with training in just notions of duty toward God and man, in the light of the Holy Scriptures.” Leaving to the corporation the largest discretion and liberty, in the prosecution of the general object, as described in his Letter of Trust, he yet indicated as “lines of operation adapted to the condition of things” the encouragement of “institutions as are most effectually useful in promoting the training of teachers.” The Trust was to be administered “in no partisan, sectional, or sectarian spirit, but in the interest of a generous patriotism and an enlightened Christian spirit.” Soon after organization the Trustees expressed very strongly their judgment that the scholars should be “trained in some manual occupation, simultaneously with their mental and moral instruction,” and aid was confined to such institutions as gave “instruction in trades and other manual occupations,” that the pupils might obtain an intelligent mastery of the indispensable elements of industrial success. So repeated have been similar declarations on the part of the Trustees and the General Agents that manual training, or education in industries, may be regarded as an unalterable policy; but only such institutions were to be aided as were, “with good reason, believed to be on a permanent basis.” Mr. Slater explained “Christian Education,” as used in his Letter of Gift, to be teaching, “leavened with a predominant and salutary Christian influence,” such as was found in “the common school teaching of Massachusetts and Connecticut,” and that there was “no need of limiting the gifts of the Fund to denominational institutions.” Since the first appropriation, near fifty different institutions have been aided, in sums ranging from $500 to $5,000. As required by the Founder, neither principal nor income is expended for land or buildings. For a few years aid was given in buying machinery or apparatus, but now the income is applied almost exclusively to paying the salaries of teachers engaged in the normal or industrial work. The number of aided institutions has been lessened, with the view of concentrating and making more effective the aid and of improving the instruction in normal and industrial work. The table appended presents a summary of the appropriations which have been made from year to year.


To August 13, 1884 $ 24,881.66 To April 30, 1885 30,414.19 To April 30, 1886 38,724.98 To April 30, 1887 39,816.28 To April 30, 1888 46,183.34 To April 30, 1889 43,709.98 To April 30, 1890 41,560.02 To April 30, 1891 50,650.00 To April 30, 1892 45,816.33 To April 30, 1893 37,475.00 To April 30, 1894 40,750.00 ——————————— $439,981.78




1. Silently corrected typographical errors and variations in spelling. 2. Retained anachronistic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings as printed. 3. Footnotes have been re-indexed using numbers.