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The Education Of The Negro Prior To 1861
Chapter II - Religion with Letters
by Woodson, Carter Godwin

The first real educators to take up the work of enlightening American Negroes were clergymen interested in the propagation of the gospel among the heathen of the new world. Addressing themselves to this task, the missionaries easily discovered that their first duty was to educate these crude elements to enable them not only to read the truth for themselves, but to appreciate the supremacy of the Christian religion. After some opposition slaves were given the opportunity to take over the Christian civilization largely because of the adverse criticism[1] which the apostles to the lowly heaped upon the planters who neglected the improvement of their Negroes. Made then a device for bringing the blacks into the Church, their education was at first too much dominated by the teaching of religion.
[Footnote 1: Bourne, "Spain in America", p. 241; and "The Penn. Mag. of History", xii., 265.]
Many early advocates of slavery favored the enlightenment of the Africans. That it was an advantage to the Negroes to be brought within the light of the gospel was a common argument in favor of the slave trade.[1] When the German Protestants from Salsburg had scruples about enslaving men, they were assured by a message from home stating that if they took slaves in faith and with the intention of conducting them to Christ, the action would not be a sin, but might prove a benediction.[2] This was about the attitude of Spain. The missionary movement seemed so important to the king of that country that he at first allowed only Christian slaves to be brought to America, hoping that such persons might serve as apostles to the Indians.[3] The Spaniards adopted a different policy, however, when they ceased their wild search for an "El Dorado" and became permanently attached to the community. They soon made settlements and opened mines which they thought required the introduction of slavery. Thus becoming commercialized, these colonists experienced a greed which, disregarding the consequences of the future, urged the importation of all classes of slaves to meet the demand for cheap labor.[4] This request was granted by the King of Spain, but the masters of such bondmen were expressly ordered to have them indoctrinated in the principles of Christianity. It was the failure of certain Spaniards to live up to these regulations that caused the liberal-minded Jesuit, Alphonso Sandoval, to register the first protest against slavery in America.[5] In later years the change in the attitude of the Spaniards toward this problem was noted. In Mexico the ayuntamientos were under the most rigid responsibility to see that free children born of slaves received the best education that could be given them. They had to place them "for that purpose at the public schools and other places of instruction wherein they" might "become useful to society."[6]
[Footnote 1: Proslavery Argument; and Lecky, "History of England", vol. ii., p. 17.]

[Footnote 2: Faust, "German Element in United States", vol. i., pp. 242-43.]

[Footnote 3: Bancroft, "History of United States", vol. i., p. 124.]

[Footnote 4: Herrera, "Historia General", dec. iv., libro ii.; dec. v., libro ii.; dec. vii., libro iv.]

[Footnote 5: Bourne, "Spain in America", p. 241.]

[Footnote 6: "Special Report U.S. Com. of Ed.", 1871, p. 389.]
In the French settlements of America the instruction of the Negroes did not early become a difficult problem. There were not many Negroes among the French. Their methods of colonization did not require many slaves. Nevertheless, whenever the French missionary came into contact with Negroes he considered it his duty to enlighten the unfortunates and lead them to God. As early as 1634 Paul Le Jeune, a Jesuit missionary in Canada, rejoiced that he had again become a real preceptor in that he was teaching a little Negro the alphabet. Le Jeune hoped to baptize his pupil as soon as he learned sufficient to understand the Christian doctrine.[1] Moreover, evidence of a general interest in the improvement of Negroes appeared in the Code Noir which made it incumbent upon masters to enlighten their slaves that they might grasp the principles of the Christian religion.[2] To carry out this mandate slaves were sometimes called together with white settlers. The meeting was usually opened with prayer and the reading of some pious book, after which the French children were turned over to one catechist, and the slaves and Indians to another. If a large number of slaves were found in the community their special instruction was provided for in meetings of their own.[3]
[Footnote 1: "Jesuit Relations", vol. v., p. 63.]

[Footnote 2: Code Noir, p. 107.]

[Footnote 3: "Jesuit Relations", vol. v., p. 62.]
After 1716, when Jesuits were taking over slaves in larger numbers, and especially after 1726, when Law's Company was importing many to meet the demand for laborers in Louisiana, we read of more instances of the instruction of Negroes by French Catholics.[1] Writing about this task in 1730, Le Petit spoke of being "settled to the instruction of the boarders, the girls who live without, and the Negro women."[2] In 1738 he said, "I instruct in Christian morals the slaves of our residence, who are Negroes, and as many others as I can get from their masters."[3] Years later Franšois Philibert Watrum, seeing that some Jesuits had on their estates one hundred and thirty slaves, inquired why the instruction of the Indian and Negro serfs of the French did not give these missionaries sufficient to do.[4] Hoping to enable the slaves to elevate themselves, certain inhabitants of the French colonies requested of their king a decree protecting their title to property in such bondmen as they might send to France to be confirmed in their instruction and in the exercise of their religion, and to have them learn some art or trade from which the colonies might receive some benefit by their return from the mother country.
[Footnote 1: "Ibid"., vol. lxvii., pp. 259 and 343.]

[Footnote 2: "Ibid"., vol. lxviii., p. 201.]

[Footnote 3: "Ibid"., vol. lxix., p. 31.]

[Footnote 4: "Ibid"., vol. lxx., p. 245.]
The education of Negroes was facilitated among the French and Spanish by their liberal attitude toward their slaves. Many of them were respected for their worth and given some of the privileges of freemen. Estevanecito, an enlightened slave sent by Niza, the Spanish adventurer, to explore Arizona, was a favored servant of this class.[1] The Latin custom of miscegenation proved to be a still more important factor in the education of Negroes in the colonies. As the French and Spanish came to America for the purpose of exploitation, leaving their wives behind, many of them, by cohabiting with and marrying colored women, gave rise to an element of mixed breeds. This was especially true of the Spanish settlements. They had more persons of this class than any other colonies in America. The Latins, in contradistinction to the English, generally liberated their mulatto offspring and sometimes recognized them as their equals. Such Negroes constituted a class of persons who, although they could not aspire to the best in the colony, had a decided advantage over other inhabitants of color. They often lived in luxury, and, of course, had a few social privileges. The Code Noir granted freedmen the same rights, privileges, and immunities as those enjoyed by persons born free, with the view that the accomplishment of acquired liberty should have on the former the same effect that the happiness of natural liberty caused in other subjects.[2] As these mixed breeds were later lost, so to speak, among the Latins, it is almost impossible to determine what their circumstances were, and what advantages of education they had.
[Footnote 1: Bancroft, "Arizona and New Mexico", pp. 27-32.]

[Footnote 2: The Code Noir obliged every planter to have his Negroes instructed and baptized. It allowed the slave for instruction, worship, and rest not only every Sunday, but every festival usually observed by the Roman Catholic Church. It did not permit any market to be held on Sundays or holidays. It prohibited, under severe penalties, all masters and managers from corrupting their female slaves. It did not allow the Negro husband, wife, or infant children to be sold separately. It forbade them the use of torture, or immoderate and inhuman punishments. It obliged the owners to maintain their old and decrepit slaves. If the Negroes were not fed and clothed as the law prescribed, or if they were in any way cruelly treated, they might apply to the Procureur, who was obliged by his office to protect them. See Code Noir, pp. 99-100.]
The Spanish and French were doing so much more than the English to enlighten their slaves that certain teachers and missionaries in the British colonies endeavored more than ever to arouse their countrymen to discharge their duty to those they held in bondage. These reformers hoped to do this by holding up to the members of the Anglican Church the praiseworthy example of the Catholics whom the British had for years denounced as enemies of Christ. The criticism had its effect. But to prosecute this work extensively the English had to overcome the difficulty found in the observance of the unwritten law that no Christian could be held a slave. Now, if the teaching of slaves enabled them to be converted and their Christianization led to manumission, the colonists had either to let the institution gradually pass away or close all avenues of information to the minds of their Negroes. The necessity of choosing either of these alternatives was obviated by the enactment of provincial statutes and formal declarations by the Bishop of London to the effect that conversion did not work manumission.[1] After the solution of this problem English missionaries urged more vigorously upon the colonies the duty of instructing the slaves. Among the active churchmen working for this cause were Rev. Morgan Goodwyn and Bishops Fleetwood, Lowth, and Sanderson.[2]
[Footnote 1: "Special Report of the U.S. Com. of Ed.", 1871, p. 352.]

[Footnote 2: On observing that laws had been passed in Virginia to prevent slaves from attending the meetings of Quakers for purposes of being instructed, Morgan Goodwyn registered a most earnest protest. He felt that prompt attention should be given to the instruction of the slaves to prevent the Church from falling into discredit, and to obviate the causes for blasphemy on the part of the enemies of the Church who would not fail to point out that ministers sent to the remotest parts had failed to convert the heathen. Therefore, he preached in Westminster Abbey in 1685 a sermon "to stir up and provoke" his "Majesty's subjects abroad, and even at home, to use endeavors for the propagation of Christianity among their domestic slaves and vassals." He referred to the spreading of mammonism and irreligion by which efforts to instruct and Christianize the heathen were paralyzed. He deplored the fact that the slaves who were the subjects of such instruction became the victims of still greater cruelty, while the missionaries who endeavored to enlighten them were neglected and even persecuted by the masters. They considered the instruction of the Negroes an impracticable and needless work of popish superstition, and a policy subversive of the interests of slaveholders. Bishop Sanderson found it necessary to oppose this policy of Virginia which had met the denunciation of Goodwyn. In strongly emphasizing this duty of masters, Bishop Fleetwood moved the hearts of many planters of North Carolina to allow missionaries access to their slaves. Many of them were thereafter instructed and baptized. See Goodwyn, "The Negroes and Indians' Advocate"; Hart, "History Told by Contemporaries", vol. i., No. 86; "Special Rep. U.S. Com. of Ed.", 1871, p. 363; "An Account of the Endeavors of the Soc.", etc., p. 14.]
Complaints from men of this type led to systematic efforts to enlighten the blacks. The first successful scheme for this purpose came from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. It was organized by the members of the Established Church in London in 1701[1] to do missionary work among Indians and Negroes. To convert the heathen they sent out not only ministers but schoolmasters. They were required to instruct the children, to teach them to read the Scriptures and other poems and useful books, to ground them thoroughly in the Church catechism, and to repeat "morning and evening prayers and graces composed for their use at home."[2]
[Footnote 1: Pascoe, "Classified Digest of the Records of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts", p. 24.]

[Footnote 2: Dalcho, "An Historical Account of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina", p. 39; "Special Rep. U.S. Com. of Ed.", 1871, p. 362.]
The first active schoolmaster of this class was Rev. Samuel Thomas of Goose Creek Parish in South Carolina. He took up this work there in 1695, and in 1705 could count among his communicants twenty Negroes, who with several others "well understanding the English tongue" could read and write.[1] Rev. Mr. Thomas said: "I have here presumed to give an account of one thousand slaves so far as they know of it and are desirous of Christian knowledge and seem willing to prepare themselves for it, in learning to read, for which they redeem the time from their labor. Many of them can read the Bible distinctly, and great numbers of them were learning when I left the province."[2] But not only had this worker enlightened many Negroes in his parish, but had enlisted in the work several ladies, among whom was Mrs. Haig Edwards. The Rev. Mr. Taylor, already interested in the cause, hoped that other masters and mistresses would follow the example of Mrs. Edwards.[3]
[Footnote 1: Meriwether, "Education in South Carolina", p. 123].

[Footnote 2: "Special Rep. U.S. Com. of Ed.", 1871, p. 362.]

[Footnote 3: "An Account of the Endeavors Used by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts", pp. 13-14.]
Through the efforts of the same society another school was opened in New York City in 1704 under Elias Neau.[1] This benefactor is commonly known as the first to begin such an institution for the education of Negroes; but the school in Goose Creek Parish, South Carolina, was in operation at least nine years earlier. At first Neau called the Negroes together after their daily toil was over and taught them at his house. By 1708 he was instructing thus as many as two hundred. Neau's school owes its importance to the fact that not long after its beginning certain Negroes who organized themselves to kill off their masters were accredited as students of this institution. For this reason it was immediately closed.[2] When upon investigating the causes of the insurrection, however, it was discovered that only one person connected with the institution had taken part in the struggle, the officials of the colony permitted Neau to continue his work and extended him their protection. After having been of invaluable service to the Negroes of New York this school was closed in 1722 by the death of its founder. The work of Neau, however, was taken up by Mr. Huddlestone. Rev. Mr. Wetmore entered the field in 1726. Later there appeared Rev. Mr. Colgan and Noxon, both of whom did much to promote the cause. In 1732 came Rev. Mr. Charlton who toiled in this field until 1747 when he was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Auchmutty. He had the co÷peration of Mr. Hildreth, the assistant of his predecessor. Much help was obtained from Rev. Mr. Barclay who, at the death of Mr. Vesey in 1764, became the rector of the parish supporting the school.[3]
[Footnote 1: "An Account of the Endeavors Used by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts", pp. 6-12.]

[Footnote 2: "Ibid"., p. 9.]

[Footnote 3: "Special Report U.S. Com. of Ed.", 1871, p. 362.]
The results obtained in the English colonies during the early period show that the agitation for the enlightenment of the Negroes spread not only wherever these unfortunates were found, but claimed the attention of the benevolent far away. Bishop Wilson of Sodor and Man, active in the cause during the first half of the eighteenth century, availed himself of the opportunity to aid those missionaries who were laboring in the colonies for the instruction of the Indians and Negroes. In 1740 he published a pamphlet written in 1699 on the "Principles and Duties of Christianity in their Direct Bearing on the Uplift of the Heathen". To teach by example he further aided this movement by giving fifty pounds for the education of colored children in Talbot County, Maryland.[1]
[Footnote 1: "Ibid.", 1871, p. 364.]
After some opposition this work began to progress somewhat in Virginia.[1] The first school established in that colony was for Indians and Negroes.[2] In the course of time the custom of teaching the latter had legal sanction there. On binding out a "bastard or pauper child black or white," churchwardens specifically required that he should be taught "to read, write, and calculate as well as to follow some profitable form of labor."[3] Other Negroes also had an opportunity to learn. Reports of an increase in the number of colored communicants came from Accomac County where four or five hundred families were instructing their slaves at home, and had their children catechized on Sunday. Unusual interest in the cause at Lambeth, in the same colony, is attested by an interesting document, setting forth in 1724 a proposition for ""Encouraging the Christian Education of Indian, Negro, and Mulatto Children"." The author declares it to be the duty of masters and mistresses of America to endeavor to educate and instruct their heathen slaves in the Christian faith, and mentioned the fact that this work had been "earnestly recommended by his Majesty's instructions." To encourage the movement it was proposed that "every Indian, Negro and Mulatto child that should be baptized and afterward brought into the Church and publicly catechized by the minister, and should before the fourteenth year of his or her age give a distinct account of the creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments," should receive from the minister a certificate which would entitle such children to exemption from paying all levies until the age of eighteen.[4] The neighboring colony of North Carolina also was moved by these efforts despite some difficulties which the missionaries there encountered.[5]
[Footnote 1: Meade, "Old Families and Churches in Virginia", p. 264; Plumer, "Thoughts on the Religious Instruction of Negroes", pp. 11-12.]

[Footnote 2: Monroe, "Cyclopaedia of Education", vol. iv., p. 406.]

[Footnote 3: Russell, "The Free Negro in Virginia", in J.H.U. Studies, Series xxxi., No. 3, p. 107.]

[Footnote 4: Meade, "Old Families and Churches in Virginia", pp. 264-65.]

[Footnote 5: Ashe, "History of North Carolina", pp. 389-90.]
This favorable attitude toward the people of color, and the successful work among them, caused the opponents of this policy to speak out boldly against their enlightenment. Some asserted that the Negroes were such stubborn creatures that there could be no such close dealing with them, and that even when converted they became saucier than pious. Others maintained that these bondmen were so ignorant and indocile, so far gone in their wickedness, so confirmed in their habit of evil ways, that it was vain to undertake to teach them such knowledge. Less cruel slaveholders had thought of getting out of the difficulty by the excuse that the instruction of Negroes required more time and labor than masters could well spare from their business. Then there were others who frankly confessed that, being an ignorant and unlearned people themselves, they could not teach others.[1]
[Footnote 1: For a summary of this argument see Meade, "Four Sermons of Reverend Bacon", pp. 81-97; also, "A Letter to an American Planter from his Friend in London", p. 5.]
Seeing that many leading planters had been influenced by those opposed to the enlightenment of Negroes, Bishop Gibson of London issued an appeal in behalf of the bondmen, addressing the clergy and laymen in two letters[1] published in London in 1727. In one he exhorted masters and mistresses of families to encourage and promote the instruction of their Negroes in the Christian faith. In the other epistle he directed the missionaries of the colonies to give to this work whatever assistance they could. Writing to the slaveholders, he took the position that considering the greatness of the profit from the labor of the slaves it might be hoped that all masters, those especially who were possessed of considerable numbers, should be at some expense in providing for the instruction of those poor creatures. He thought that others who did not own so many should share in the expense of maintaining for them a common teacher.
[Footnote 1: "An Account of the Endeavors Used by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts", pp. 16, 21, and 32; and Dalcho, "An Historical Account", etc., pp. 104 et seq.]
Equally censorious of these neglectful masters was Reverend Thomas Bacon, the rector of the Parish Church in Talbot County, Maryland. In 1749 he set forth his protest in four sermons on "the great and indispensable duty of all Christian masters to bring up their slaves in the knowledge and fear of God."[1] Contending that slaves should enjoy rights like those of servants in the household of the patriarchs, Bacon insisted that next to one's children and brethren by blood, one's servants, and especially one's slaves, stood in the nearest relation to him, and that in return for their drudgery the master owed it to his bondmen to have them enlightened. He believed that the reading and explaining of the Holy Scriptures should be made a stated duty. In the course of time the place of catechist in each family might be supplied out of the intelligent slaves by choosing such among them as were best taught to instruct the rest.[2] He was of the opinion, too, that were some of the slaves taught to read, were they sent to school for that purpose when young, were they given the New Testament and other good books to be read at night to their fellow-servants, such a course would vastly increase their knowledge of God and direct their minds to a serious thought of futurity.[3]
[Footnote 1: Meade, "Sermons of Thomas Bacon", pp. 31 et seq.]

[Footnote 2: Meade, "Sermons of Thomas Bacon", pp. 116 "et seq."]

[Footnote 3: "Ibid.", p. 118.]
With almost equal zeal did Bishops Williams and Butler plead the same cause.[1] They deplored the fact that because of their dark skins Negro slaves were treated as a species different from the rest of mankind. Denouncing the more cruel treatment of slaves as cattle, unfit for mental and moral improvement, these churchmen asserted that the highest property possible to be acquired in servants could not cancel the obligation to take care of the religious instruction of those who "despicable as they are in the eyes of man are nevertheless the creatures of God."[2]
[Footnote 1: "Special Report of the U.S. Com. of Ed.", 1871, p. 363.]

[Footnote 2: "Special Report of the U.S. Com. of Ed"., 1871, p. 363.]
On account of these appeals made during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries a larger number of slaves of the English colonies were thereafter treated as human beings capable of mental, moral, and spiritual development. Some masters began to provide for the improvement of these unfortunates, not because they loved them, but because instruction would make them more useful to the community. A much more effective policy of Negro education was brought forward in 1741 by Bishop Secker.[1] He suggested the employment of young Negroes prudently chosen to teach their countrymen. To carry out such a plan he had already sent a missionary to Africa. Besides instructing Negroes at his post of duty, this apostle sent three African natives to England where they were educated for the work.[2] It was doubtless the sentiment of these leaders that caused Dr. Brearcroft to allude to this project in a discourse before the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts in 1741.[3]
[Footnote 1: Secker, "Works", vol. v., p. 88.]

[Footnote 2: "Ibid"., vol. vi., p. 467.]

[Footnote 3: "An Account of the Endeavors Used by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts", p.6.]
This organization hit upon the plan of purchasing two Negroes named Harry and Andrew, and of qualifying them by thorough instruction in the principles of Christianity and the fundamentals of education, to serve as schoolmasters to their people. Under the direction of Rev. Mr. Garden, the missionary who had directed the training of these young men, a building costing about three hundred and eight pounds was erected in Charleston, South Carolina. In the school which opened in this building in 1744 Harry and Andrew served as teachers.[1] In the beginning the school had about sixty young students, and had a very good daily attendance for a number of years. The directors of the institution planned to send out annually between thirty and forty youths "well instructed in religion and capable of reading their Bibles to carry home and diffuse the same knowledge to their fellow slaves."[2] It is highly probable that after 1740 this school was attended only by free persons of color. Because the progress of Negro education had been rather rapid, South Carolina enacted that year a law prohibiting any person from teaching or causing a slave to be taught, or from employing or using a slave as a scribe in any manner of writing.
[Footnote 1: Meriwether, "Education in South Carolina", p. 123; McCrady, "South Carolina", etc., p. 246; Dalcho, "An Historical Account of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina", pp. 156, 157, 164.]

[Footnote 2: "Ibid"., pp. 157 and 164.]
In 1764 the Charleston school was closed for reasons which it is difficult to determine. From one source we learn that one of the teachers died, and the other having turned out profligate, no instructors could be found to continue the work. It does not seem that the sentiment against the education of free Negroes had by that time become sufficiently strong to cause the school to be discontinued.[1] It is evident, however, that with the assistance of influential persons of different communities the instruction of slaves continued in that colony. Writing about the middle of the eighteenth century, Eliza Lucas, a lady of South Carolina, who afterward married Justice Pinckney, mentions a parcel of little Negroes whom she had undertaken to teach to read.[2]
[Footnote 1: "An Account of the Endeavors Used by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts", p. 15.]

[Footnote 2: Bourne, "Spain in America", p. 241.]
The work of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts was also effective in communities of the North in which the established Church of England had some standing. In 1751 Reverend Hugh Neill, once a Presbyterian minister of New Jersey, became a missionary of this organization to the Negroes of Pennsylvania. He worked among them fifteen years. Dr. Smith, Provost of the College of Philadelphia, devoted a part of his time to the work, and at the death of Neill in 1766 enlisted as a regular missionary of the Society.[1] It seems, however, that prior to the eighteenth century not much had been done to enlighten the slaves of that colony, although free persons of color had been instructed. Rev. Mr. Wayman, another missionary to Pennsylvania about the middle of the eighteenth century, asserted that "neither" was "there anywhere care taken for the instruction of Negro slaves," the duty to whom he had "pressed upon masters with little effect."[2]
[Footnote 1: "Special Report of the U.S. Com. of Ed.", 1871, p. 362.]

[Footnote 2: Wickersham, "History of Education in Pennsylvania", p. 248.]
To meet this need the Society set the example of maintaining catechetical lectures for Negroes in St. Peter's and Christ Church of Philadelphia, during the incumbency of Dr. Jennings from 1742 to 1762. William Sturgeon, a student of Yale, selected to do this work, was sent to London for ordination and placed in charge in 1747.[1] In this position Rev. Mr. Sturgeon remained nineteen years, rendering such satisfactory services in the teaching of Negroes that he deserves to be recorded as one of the first benefactors of the Negro race.
[Footnote 1: "Ibid"., p. 241.]
Antedating this movement in Pennsylvania were the efforts of Reverend Dr. Thomas Bray. In 1696 he was sent to Maryland by the Bishop of London on an ecclesiastical mission to do what he could toward the conversion of adult Negroes and the education of their children.[1] Bray's most influential supporter was M. D'Alone, the private secretary of King William. D'Alone gave for the maintenance of the cause a fund, the proceeds of which were first used for the employment of colored catechists, and later for the support of the Thomas Bray Mission after the catechists had failed to give satisfaction. At the death of this missionary the task was taken up by certain followers of the good man, known as the "Associates of Doctor Bray."[2] They extended their work beyond the confines of Maryland. In 1760 two schools for the education of Negroes were maintained in Philadelphia by these benefactors. It was the aid obtained from the Dr. Bray fund that enabled the abolitionists to establish in that city a permanent school which continued for almost a hundred years.[3] About the close of the French and Indian War, Rev. Mr. Stewart, a missionary in North Carolina, found there a school for the education of Indians and free Negroes, conducted by Dr. Bray's Associates. The example of these men appealing to him as a wise policy, he directed to it the attention of the clergy at home.[4]
[Footnote 1: "Ibid"., p. 252; Smyth, "Works of Franklin", vol. iv., p. 23; and vol. v., p. 431.]

[Footnote 2: Smyth, "Works of Franklin", vol. v., p. 431.]

[Footnote 3: Wickersham, "History of Education in Pennsylvania", p. 249.]

[Footnote 4: Bassett, "Slavery and Servitude in North Carolina", Johns Hopkins University Studies, vol. xv., p. 226.]
Not many slaves were found among the Puritans, but the number sufficed to bring the question of their instruction before these colonists almost as prominently as we have observed it was brought in the case of the members of the Established Church of England. Despite the fact that the Puritans developed from the Calvinists, believers in the doctrine of election which swept away all class distinction, this sect did not, like the Quakers, attack slavery as an institution. Yet if the Quakers were the first of the Protestants to protest against the buying and selling of souls, New England divines were among the first to devote attention to the mental, moral, and spiritual development of Negroes.[1] In 1675 John Eliot objected to the Indian slave trade, not because of the social degradation, but for the reason that he desired that his countrymen "should follow Christ his Designe in this matter to promote the free passage of Religion" among them. He further said: "For to sell Souls for Money seemeth to me to be dangerous Merchandise, to sell away from all Means of Grace whom Christ hath provided Means of Grace for you is the Way for us to be active in destroying their Souls when they are highly obliged to seek their Conversion and Salvation." Eliot bore it grievously that the souls of the slaves were "exposed by their Masters to a destroying Ignorance meerly for the Fear of thereby losing the Benefit of their Vassalage."[2]
[Footnote 1: "Pennsylvania Magazine of History", vol. xiii., p. 265.]

[Footnote 2: Locke, "Anti-slavery Before 1808", p. 15; Mather, "Life of John Eliot", p. 14; "New Plymouth Colony Records", vol. x., p. 452.]
Further interest in the work was manifested by Cotton Mather. He showed his liberality in his professions published in 1693 in a set of "Rules for the Society of Negroes", intended to present the claims of the despised race to the benefits of religious instruction.[1] Mather believed that servants were in a sense like one's children, and that their masters should train and furnish them with Bibles and other religious books for which they should be given time to read. He maintained that servants should be admitted to the religious exercises of the family and was willing to employ such of them as were competent to teach his children lessons of piety. Coming directly to the issue of the day, Mather deplored the fact that the several plantations which lived upon the labor of their Negroes were guilty of the "prodigious Wickedness of deriding, neglecting, and opposing all due Means of bringing the poor Negroes unto God." He hoped that the masters, of whom God would one day require the souls of slaves committed to their care, would see to it that like Abraham they have catechised servants. They were not to imagine that the "Almighty God made so many thousands reasonable Creatures for nothing but only to serve the Lusts of Epicures, or the Gains of Mammonists."[2]
[Footnote 1: Locke, "Anti-slavery", etc., p. 15.]

[Footnote 2: Meade, "Sermons of Thomas Bacon", p. 137 "et seq".]
The sentiment of the clergy of this epoch was more directly expressed by Richard Baxter, the noted Nonconformist, in his "Directions to Masters in Foreign Plantations," incorporated as rules into the "Christian Directory".[1] Baxter believed in natural liberty and the equality of man, and justified slavery only on the ground of "necessitated consent" or captivity in lawful war. For these reasons he felt that they that buy slaves and "use them as Beasts for their meer Commodity, and betray, or destroy or neglect their Souls are fitter to be called incarnate Devils than Christians, though they be no Christians whom they so abuse."[2] His aim here, however, is not to abolish the institution of slavery but to enlighten the Africans and bring them into the Church.[3] Exactly what effect Baxter had on this movement cannot be accurately figured out. The fact, however, that his creed was extensively adhered to by the Protestant colonists among whom his works were widely read, leads us to think that he influenced some masters to change their attitude toward their slaves.
[Footnote 1: Baxter, "Practical Works", vol. i., p. 438.]

[Footnote 2: Baxter, "Practical Works", vol. i., p. 438-40.]

[Footnote 3: "Ibid"., p. 440.]
The next Puritan of prominence who enlisted among the helpers of the African slaves was Chief Justice Sewall, of Massachusetts. In 1701 he stirred his section by publishing his "Selling of Joseph", a distinctly anti-slavery pamphlet, based on the natural and inalienable right of every man to be free.[1] The appearance of this publication marked an epoch in the history of the Negroes. It was the first direct attack on slavery in New England. The Puritan clergy had formerly winked at the continuation of the institution, provided the masters were willing to give the slaves religious instruction. In the "Selling of Joseph" Sewall had little to say about their mental and moral improvement, but in the "Athenian Oracle", which expressed his sentiments so well that he had it republished in 1705,[2] he met more directly the problem of elevating the Negro race. Taking up this question, Sewall said: "There's yet less doubt that those who are of Age to answer for themselves would soon learn the Principles of our Faith, and might be taught the Obligation of the Vow they made in Baptism, and there's little Doubt but Abraham instructed his Heathen Servants who were of Age to learn, the Nature of Circumcision before he circumcised them; nor can we conclude much less from God's own noble Testimony of him, 'I know him that he will command his Children and his Household, and they shall keep the Way of the Lord.'"[3] Sewall believed that the emancipation of the slaves should be promoted to encourage Negroes to become Christians. He could not understand how any Christian could hinder or discourage them from learning the principles of the Christian religion and embracing the faith.
[Footnote 1: Moore, "Notes on Slavery in Massachusetts", p. 91.]

[Footnote 2: Moore, "Notes on Slavery in Massachusetts", p. 92; Locke, "Anti-slavery", etc., p. 31.]

[Footnote 3: Moore, "Notes on Slavery", etc., p. 91; "The Athenian Oracle", vol. ii., pp. 460 "et seq".]
This interest shown in the Negro race was in no sense general among the Puritans of that day. Many of their sect could not favor such proselyting,[1] which, according to their system of government, would have meant the extension to the slaves of social and political privileges. It was not until the French provided that masters should take their slaves to church and have them indoctrinated in the Catholic faith, that the proposition was seriously considered by many of the Puritans. They, like the Anglicans, felt sufficient compunction of conscience to take steps to Christianize the slaves, lest the Catholics, whom they had derided as undesirable churchmen, should put the Protestants to shame.[2] The publication of the Code Noir probably influenced the instructions sent out from England to his Majesty's governors requiring them "with the assistance of our council to find out the best means to facilitate and encourage the conversion of Negroes and Indians to the Christian Religion." Everly subsequently mentions in his diary the passing of a resolution by the Council Board at Windsor or Whitehall, recommending that the blacks in plantations be baptized, and meting out severe censure to those who opposed this policy.[3]
[Footnote 1: Moore, "Notes on Slavery", etc., p. 79.]

[Footnote 2: This good example of the Catholics was in later years often referred to by Bishop Porteus. "Works of Bishop Porteus", vol. vi, pp. 168, 173, 177, 178, 401; Moore, "Notes on Slavery", etc., p. 96.]

[Footnote 3: "Ibid"., p. 96.]
More effective than the efforts of other sects in the enlightenment of the Negroes was the work of the Quakers, despite the fact that they were not free to extend their operations throughout the colonies. Just as the colored people are indebted to the Quakers for registering in 1688 the first protest against slavery in Protestant America, so are they indebted to this denomination for the earliest permanent and well-developed schools devoted to the education of their race. As the Quakers believed in the freedom of the will, human brotherhood, and equality before God, they did not, like the Puritans, find difficulties in solving the problem of enlightening the Negroes. While certain Puritans were afraid that conversion might lead to the destruction of caste and the incorporation of undesirable persons into the "Body Politick," the Quakers proceeded on the principle that all men are brethren and, being equal before God, should be considered equal before the law. On account of unduly emphasizing the relation of man to God the Puritans "atrophied their social humanitarian instinct" and developed into a race of self-conscious saints. Believing in human nature and laying stress upon the relation between man and man the Quakers became the friends of all humanity.

Far from the idea of getting rid of an undesirable element by merely destroying the institution which supplied it, the Quakers endeavored to teach the Negro to be a man capable of discharging the duties of citizenship. As early as 1672 their attention was directed to this important matter by George Fox.[1] In 1679 he spoke out more boldly, entreating his sect to instruct and teach their Indians and Negroes "how that Christ, by the Grace of God, tasted death for every man."[2] Other Quakers of prominence did not fail to drive home this thought. In 1693 George Keith, a leading Quaker of his day, came forward as a promoter of the religious training of the slaves as a preparation for emancipation.[3] William Penn advocated the emancipation of slaves,[4] that they might have every opportunity for improvement. In 1696 the Quakers, while protesting against the slave trade, denounced also the policy of neglecting their moral and spiritual welfare.[5] The growing interest of this sect in the Negroes was shown later by the development in 1713 of a definite scheme for freeing and returning them to Africa after having been educated and trained to serve as missionaries on that continent.[6]
[Footnote 1: Quaker Pamphlet, p. 8; Moore, "Anti-slavery", etc., p. 79.]

[Footnote 2: "Ibid.", p. 79.]

[Footnote 3: "Special Report of the U.S. Com. of Ed.", p. 376.]

[Footnote 4: Rhodes, "History of the United States", vol. i., p. 6; Bancroft, "History of the United States", vol. ii., p. 401.]

[Footnote 5: Locke, "Anti-slavery", p. 32.]

[Footnote 6: "Ibid.", p. 30.]
The inevitable result of this liberal attitude toward the Negroes was that the Quakers of those colonies where other settlers were so neglectful of the enlightenment of the colored race, soon found themselves at war with the leaders of the time. In slaveholding communities the Quakers were persecuted, not necessarily because they adhered to a peculiar faith, not primarily because they had manners and customs unacceptable to the colonists, but because in answering the call of duty to help all men they incurred the ill will of the masters who denounced them as undesirable persons, bringing into America spurious doctrines subversive of the institutions of the aristocratic settlements.

Their experience in the colony of Virginia is a good example of how this worked out. Seeing the unchristian attitude of the preachers in most parts of that colony, the Quakers inquired of them, "Who made you ministers of the Gospel to white people only, and not to the tawny and blacks also?"[1] To show the nakedness of the neglectful clergy there some of this faith manifested such zeal in teaching and preaching to the Negroes that their enemies demanded legislation to prevent them from gaining ascendancy over the minds of the slaves. Accordingly, to make the colored people of that colony inaccessible to these workers it was deemed wise in 1672 to enact a law prohibiting members of that sect from taking Negroes to their meetings. In 1678 the colony enacted another measure excluding Quakers from the teaching profession by providing that no person should be allowed to keep a school in Virginia unless he had taken the oath of allegiance and supremacy.[2] Of course, it was inconsistent with the spirit and creed of the Quakers to take this oath.
[Footnote 1: Quaker Pamphlet, p. 9.]

[Footnote 2: Hening, "Statutes at Large", vol. i., 532; ii., 48, 165, 166, 180, 198, and 204. "Special Report of the U.S. Com. of Ed"., 1871, p. 391.]
The settlers of North Carolina followed the same procedure to check the influence of Quakers, who spoke there in behalf of the man of color as fearlessly as they had in Virginia. The apprehension of the dominating element was such that Governor Tryon had to be instructed to prohibit from teaching in that colony any person who had not a license from the Bishop of London.[1] Although this order was seemingly intended to protect the faith and doctrine of the Anglican Church, rather than to prevent the education of Negroes, it operated to lessen their chances for enlightenment, since missionaries from the Established Church did not reach all parts of the colony.[2] The Quakers of North Carolina, however, had local schools and actually taught slaves. Some of these could read and write as early as 1731. Thereafter, household servants were generally given the rudiments of an English education.
[Footnote 1: Ashe, "History of North Carolina", vol. i., p. 389. The same instructions were given to Governor Francis Nicholson.]

[Footnote 2: "Ibid"., pp. 389, 390.]
It was in the settlements of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York that the Quakers encountered less opposition in carrying out their policy of cultivating the minds of colored people. Among these Friends the education of Negroes became the handmaiden of the emancipation movement. While John Hepburn, William Burling, Elihu Coleman, and Ralph Sandiford largely confined their attacks to the injustice of keeping slaves, Benjamin Lay was working for their improvement as a prerequisite of emancipation.[1] Lay entreated the Friends to "bring up the Negroes to some Learning, Reading and Writing and" to "endeavor to the utmost of their Power in the sweet love of Truth to instruct and teach 'em the Principles of Truth and Religiousness, and learn some Honest Trade or Imployment and then set them free. And," says he, "all the time Friends are teaching of them let them know that they intend to let them go free in a very reasonable Time; and that our Religious Principles will not allow of such Severity, as to keep them in everlasting Bondage and Slavery."[2]
[Footnote 1: Locke, "Anti-slavery", etc., p. 31.]

[Footnote 2: "Ibid"., p. 32.]
The struggle of the Northern Quakers to enlighten the colored people had important local results. A strong moral force operated in the minds of most of this sect to impel them to follow the example of certain leaders who emancipated their slaves.[1] Efforts in this direction were redoubled about the middle of the eighteenth century when Anthony Benezet,[2] addressing himself with unwonted zeal to the uplift of these unfortunates, obtained the assistance of Clarkson and others, who solidified the antislavery sentiment of the Quakers and influenced them to give their time and means to the more effective education of the blacks. After this period the Quakers were also concerned with the improvement of the colored people's condition in other settlements.[3]
[Footnote 1: Dr. DuBois gives a good account of these efforts in his "Suppression of the African Slave Trade".]

[Footnote 2: Benezet was a French Protestant. Persecuted on account of their religion, his parents moved from France to England and later to Philadelphia. He became a teacher in that city in 1742. Thirteen years later he was teaching a school established for the education of the daughters of the most distinguished families in Philadelphia. He was then using his own spelling-book, primer, and grammar, some of the first text-books published in America. Known to persecution himself, Benezet always sympathized with the oppressed. Accordingly, he connected himself with the Quakers, who at that time had before them the double task of fighting for religious equality and the amelioration of the condition of the Negroes. Becoming interested in the welfare of the colored race, Benezet first attacked the slave trade, so exposing it in his speeches and writings that Clarkson entered the field as an earnest advocate of the suppression of the iniquitous traffic. See Benezet, "Observations", p. 30, and the "African Repository", vol. iv., p. 61.]

[Footnote 3: Quaker Pamphlet, p. 31.]
What the other sects did for the enlightenment of Negroes during this period, was not of much importance. As the Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists did not proselyte extensively in this country prior to the middle of the eighteenth century, these denominations had little to do with Negro education before the liberalism and spirit of toleration, developed during the revolutionary era, made it possible for these sects to reach the people. The Methodists, however, confined at first largely to the South, where most of the slaves were found, had to take up this problem earlier. Something looking like an attempt to elevate the Negroes came from Wesley's contemporary, George Whitefield,[1] who, strange to say, was regarded by the Negro race as its enemy for having favored the introduction of slavery. He was primarily interested in the conversion of the colored people. Without denying that "liberty is sweet to those who are born free," he advocated the importation of slaves into Georgia "to bring them within the reach of those means of grace which would make them partake of a liberty far more precious than the freedom of body."[2] While on a visit to this country in 1740 he purchased a large tract of land at Nazareth, Pennsylvania, for the purpose of founding a school for the education of Negroes.[3] Deciding later to go south, he sold the site to the Moravian brethren who had undertaken to establish a mission for Negroes at Bethlehem in 1738.[4] Some writers have accepted the statement that Whitefield commenced the erection of a schoolhouse at Nazareth; others maintain that he failed to accomplish anything.[5] Be that as it may, accessible facts are sufficient to show that, unwise as was his policy of importing slaves, his intention was to improve their condition. It was because of this sentiment in Georgia in 1747, when slavery was finally introduced there, that the people through their representatives in convention recommended that masters should educate their young slaves, and do whatever they could to make religious impressions upon the minds of the aged. This favorable attitude of early Methodists toward Negroes caused them to consider the new churchmen their friends and made it easy for this sect to proselyte the race.
[Footnote 1: "Special Report of the U.S. Com. of Ed"., 1871, p. 374.]

[Footnote 2: "Ibid"., p. 374.]

[Footnote 3: Turner, "The Negro in Pennsylvania", p. 128.]

[Footnote 4: Equally interested in the Negroes were the Moravians who settled in the uplands of Pennsylvania and roamed over the hills of the Appalachian region as far south as Carolina. A painting of a group of their converts prior to 1747 shows among others two Negroes, Johannes of South Carolina and Jupiter of New York. See Hamilton, "History of the Church known as the Moravian", p. 80; Plumer, "Thoughts on the Religious Instruction of Negroes", p. 3; Reichel, "The Moravians in North Carolina", p. 139.]

[Footnote 5: "Special Report of the U.S. Com. of Ed"., 1869, p. 374.]


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