HumanitiesWeb HumanitiesWeb
WelcomeHistoryLiteratureArtMusicPhilosophyResourcesHelp
Sort By Author Sort By Title
pixel

Resources
Sort By Author
Sort By Title

Search

Get Your Degree!

Find schools and get information on the program that’s right for you.

Powered by Campus Explorer

& etc
FEEDBACK

(C)1998-2012
All Rights Reserved.

Site last updated
28 October, 2012
Real Time Analytics
The Education Of The Negro Prior To 1861
Educating Negroes Transplanted to Free Soil
by Woodson, Carter Godwin


While the Negroes of the South were struggling against odds to acquire knowledge, the more ambitious ones were for various reasons making their way to centers of light in the North. Many fugitive slaves dreaded being sold to planters of the lower South, the free blacks of some of the commonwealths were forced out by hostile legislation, and not a few others migrated to ameliorate their condition. The transplanting of these people to the Northwest took place largely between 1815 and 1850. They were directed mainly to Columbia and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Greenwich, New Jersey; and Boston, Massachusetts, in the East; and to favorable towns and colored communities in the Northwest.[1] The fugitives found ready helpers in Elmira, Rochester, Buffalo, New York; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Gallipolis, Portsmouth, Akron, and Cincinnati, Ohio; and Detroit, Michigan.[2] Colored settlements which proved attractive to these wanderers had been established in Ohio, Indiana, and Canada. That most of the bondmen in quest of freedom and opportunity should seek the Northwest had long been the opinion of those actually interested in their enlightenment. The attention of the colored people had been early directed to this section as a more suitable place for their elevation than the jungles of Africa selected by the American Colonization Society. The advocates of Western colonization believed that a race thus degraded could be elevated only in a salubrious climate under the influences of institutions developed by Western nations.
[Footnote 1: Siebert, "The Underground Railroad", p. 32.]

[Footnote 2: "Ibid.", pp. 32 and 37.]
The r˘le played by the Negroes in this migration exhibited the development of sufficient mental ability to appreciate this truth. It was chiefly through their intelligent fellows that prior to the reaction ambitious slaves learned to consider the Northwest Territory the land of opportunity. Furthermore, restless freedmen, denied political privileges and prohibited from teaching their children, did not always choose to go to Africa. Many of them went north of the Ohio River and took up land on the public domain. Observing this longing for opportunity, benevolent southerners, who saw themselves hindered in carrying out their plan for educating the blacks for citizenship, disposed of their holdings and formed free colonies of their slaves in the same section. White men of this type thus made possible a new era of uplift for the colored race by coming north in time to aid the abolitionists, who had for years constituted a small minority advocating a seemingly hopeless cause.

A detailed description of these settlements has no place in this dissertation save as it has a bearing on the development of education among the colored people. These settlements, however, are important here in that they furnish the key to the location of many of the early colored churches and schools of the North and West. Philanthropists established a number of Negroes near Sandy Lake in Northwestern Pennsylvania.[1] There was a colored settlement near Berlin Crossroads, Ohio.[2] Another group of pioneering Negroes emigrating to this State found homes in the Van Buren township of Shelby County. Edward Coles, a Virginian, who in 1818 emigrated to Illinois, of which he later became Governor, made a settlement on a larger scale. He brought his slaves to Edwardsville, where they constituted a community known as "Coles' Negroes."[3] The settlement made by Samuel Gist, an Englishman possessing extensive plantations in Hanover, Amherst, and Henrico Counties, Virginia, was still more significant. He provided in his will that his slaves should be freed and sent to the North. It was further directed "that the revenue from his plantation the last year of his life be applied in building schoolhouses and churches for their accommodation," and "that all money coming to him in Virginia be set aside for the employment of ministers and teachers to instruct them."[4] In 1818, Wickham, the executor of this estate, purchased land and established these Negroes in what was called the Upper and Lower Camps of Brown County, Ohio.
[Footnote 1: Siebert, "The Underground Railroad", p. 249.]

[Footnote 2: Langston,"From the Virginia Plantation to the National Capitol", p. 35.]

[Footnote 3: Davidson and StuvÚ,"A Complete History of Illinois", pp. 321-322; and Washburne, "Sketch of Edward Cole, Second Governor of Illinois", pp. 44 and 53.]

[Footnote 4: "History of Brown County", pp. 313 "et seq."; and Lane, "Fifty Years and over of Akron and Summit County, Ohio", pp. 579-580.]
Augustus Wattles, a native of Connecticut, made a settlement of Negroes in Mercer County early in the nineteenth century.[1] About the year 1834 many of the freedmen, then concentrating at Cincinnati, were induced to take up 30,000 acres of land in the same vicinity.[2] John Harper of North Carolina manumitted his slaves in 1850 and had them sent to this community.[3] John Randolph of Roanoke freed his slaves at his death, and provided for the purchase of farms for them in Mercer County.[4] The Germans, however, would not allow them to take possession of these lands. Driven later from Shelby County[5] also, these freedmen finally found homes in Miami County.[7] Then there was one Saunders, a slaveholder of Cabell County, now West Virginia, who liberated his slaves and furnished them homes in free territory. They finally made their way to Cass County, Michigan, where philanthropists had established a prosperous colored settlement and supplied it with missionaries and teachers. The slaves of Theodoric H. Gregg of Dinwiddie County, Virginia, were liberated in 1854 and sent to Ohio,[7] where some of them were educated.
[Footnote 1: Howe, "Ohio Historical Collections", p. 356.]

[Footnote 2: "Ibid.", p. 356.]

[Footnote 3: Manuscript in the hands of Dr. J.E. Moreland.]

[Footnote 4: "The African Repository", vol. xxii., pp. 322-323.]

[Footnote 5: Howe, "Ohio Historical Collections", p. 465.]

[Footnote 6: "Ibid.", p. 466.]

[Footnote 7: Simmons, "Men of Mark", p. 723.]
Many free persons of color of Virginia and Kentucky went north about the middle of the nineteenth century. The immediate cause in Virginia was the enactment in 1838 of a law prohibiting the return of such colored students as had been accustomed to go north to attend school after they were denied this privilege in that State.[1] Prominent among these seekers of better opportunities were the parents of Richard De Baptiste. His father was a popular mechanic of Fredericksburg, where he for years maintained a secret school.[2] A public opinion proscribing the teaching of Negroes was then rendering the effort to enlighten them as unpopular in Kentucky as it was in Virginia. Thanks to a benevolent Kentuckian, however, an important colored settlement near Xenia, Greene County, Ohio, was then taking shape. The nucleus of this group was furnished about 1856 by Noah Spears, who secured small farms there for sixteen of his former bondmen.[3] The settlement was not only sought by fugitive slaves and free Negroes, but was selected as the site for Wilberforce University.[4]
[Footnote 1: Russell, "The Free Negro in Virginia", Johns Hopkins University Studies, Series xxxi., No. 3, p. 492; and "Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia", 1848, p. 117.]

[Footnote 2: Simmons, "Men of Mark", p. 352.]

[Footnote 3: Wright, "Negro Rural Communities" ("Southern Workman", vol. xxxvii., p. 158).]

[Footnote 4: "Special Report of the U.S. Com. of Ed.", p. 373; and "Non-Slaveholder", vol. ii., p. 113.]
During the same period, and especially from 1820 to 1835, a more continuous and effective migration of southern Negroes was being promoted by the Quakers of Virginia and North Carolina.[1] One of their purposes was educational. Convinced that the "buying, selling, and holding of men in slavery" is a sin, these Quakers with a view to future manumission had been "careful of the moral and intellectual training of such as they held in servitude."[2] To elevate their slaves to the plane of men, southern Quakers early hit upon the scheme of establishing in the Northwest such Negroes as they had by education been able to equip for living as citizens. When the reaction in the South made it impossible for the Quakers to continue their policy of enlightening the colored people, these philanthropists promoted the migration of the blacks to the Northwest Territory with still greater zeal. Most of these settlements were made in Hamilton, Howard, Wayne, Randolph, Vigo, Gibson, Grant, Rush, and Tipton Counties, Indiana, and in Darke County, Ohio.[3] Prominent among these promoters was Levi Coffin, the Quaker Abolitionist of North Carolina, and reputed President of the Underground Railroad. He left his State and settled among Negroes at Newport, Indiana.[4] Associated with these leaders also were Benjamin Lundy of Tennessee and James G. Birney, once a slaveholder of Huntsville, Alabama. The latter manumitted his slaves and apprenticed and educated some of them in Ohio.[5]
[Footnote 1: Wright, "Negro Rural Communities" ("Southern Workman", vol. xxxvii., p. 158); and Bassett, "Slavery in North Carolina", p. 68.]

[Footnote 2: A Brief Statement of the Rise and Progress of the Testimony, etc.]

[Footnote 3: Wright, "Rural Negro Communities in Indiana" ("Southern Workman", vol. xxxvii., pp. 162-166); and Bassett, "Slavery in North Carolina", pp. 67 and 68.]

[Footnote 4: Coffin, "Reminiscences", p. 106.]

[Footnote 5: Birney, "James G. Birney and His Times", p. 139.]
The importance of this movement to the student of education lies in the fact that it effected an unequal distribution of intelligent Negroes. The most ambitious and enlightened ones were fleeing to free territory. As late as 1840 there were more intelligent blacks in the South than in the North.[1] The number of southern colored people who could read was then decidedly larger than that of such persons found in the free States. The continued migration of Negroes to the North, despite the operation of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, made this distribution more unequal. While the free colored population of the slave States increased only 23,736 from 1850 to 1860, that of the free States increased 29,839. In the South only Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, and North Carolina showed a noticeable increase in the number of free persons of color during the decade immediately preceding the Civil War. This element of the population had only slightly increased in Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, Louisiana, South Carolina, and the District of Columbia. The number of free Negroes of Florida remained practically constant. Those of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas diminished. In the North, of course, the tendency was in the other direction. With the exception of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York, which had about the same free colored population in 1860 as they had in 1850, there was a general increase in the number of Negroes in the free States. Ohio led in this respect having had during this period an increase of 11,394.[2]
[Footnote 1: Jones, "Religious Instruction of the Negroes", p. 115.]

[Footnote 2: See statistics on pages 237-240.]
On comparing the educational statistics of these sections this truth becomes more apparent. In 1850 there were 4,354 colored children attending school in the South, but by 1860 this number had dropped to 3,651. Slight increases were noted only in Alabama, Missouri, Delaware, South Carolina, and the District of Columbia. Georgia and Mississippi had then practically deprived all Negroes of this privilege. The former, which reported one colored child as attending school in 1850, had just seven in 1860; the latter had none in 1850 and only two in 1860. In all other slave States the number of pupils of African blood had materially decreased.[1] In the free States there were 22,107 colored children in school in 1850, and 28,978 in 1860. Most of these were in New Jersey, Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania, which in 1860 had 2,741; 5,671; 5,694; and 7,573, respectively.[2]
[Footnote 1: STATISTICS OF THE FREE COLORED POPULATION OF THE
  UNITED STATES IN 1850

                             ATTENDING         ADULTS UNABLE
                               SCHOOL             TO READ
  STATE      Population Males Females Total Males Females  Total

  Alabama         2,265    33      35    68    108      127     235
  Arkansas          608     6       5    11     61       55     116
  California        962     1       0     1     88       29     117
  Connecticut     7,693   689     575  1,264   292      273     567
  Delaware       18,073    92      95    187 2,724    2,921   5,645
  Florida           932    29      37     66   116      154     270
  Georgia         2,931     1       0      1   208      259     467
  Illinois        5,436   162     161    323   605      624   1,229
  Indiana        11,262   484     443    927 1,024    1,146   2,170
  Iowa              333    12       5     17    15       18      33
  Kentucky       10,011   128     160    288 1,431    1,588   3,029
  Louisiana      17,462   629     590  1,219 1,038    2,351   3,389
  Maine           1,356   144     137    281    77       58     135
  Maryland       74,723   886     730  1,616 9,422   11,640  21,062
  Massachusetts   9,064   726     713  1,439   375      431     806
  Michigan        2,583   106     101    207   201      168     369
  Mississippi       930     0       0      0    75       48     123
  Missouri        2,618    23      17     40   271      226     497
  New Hampshire     520    41      32     73    26       26      52
  New Jersey     23,810 1,243   1,083  2,326 2,167    2,250   4,417
  New York       49,069 2,840   2,607  5,447 3,387    4,042   7,429
  North Carolina 27,463   113     104    217 3,099    3,758   6,857
  Ohio           25,279 1,321   1,210  2,531 2,366    2,624   4,990
  Pennsylvania   53,626 3,385   3,114  6,499  4,115   5,229   9,344**
                                         [** was 6,344 in error.**]
  Rhode Island    3,670   304     247    551    130     137     267
  South Carolina  8,960    54      26     80    421     459     880
  Tennessee       6,422    40      30     70    506     591   1,097
  Texas             397    11       9     20     34      24      58
  Vermont           718    58      32     90     32      19      51
  Virginia       54,333    37      27     64  5,141   6,374  11,515
  Wisconsin         635    32      35     67     55      37      92
  District of
  Columbia       10,059    232    235    467  1,106   2,108   3,214
  Minnesota          30      0      2      2      0       0       0
  New Mexico        207      0      0      0      0       0       0
  Oregon             24      2      0      2      3       2       5
  Utah               22      0      0      0      1       0       1
 
  Total         434,495 13,864 12,597 26,461 40,722  49,800  90,522
 
  See Sixth Census of the United States, 1850.]
[Footnote 2: See statistics on pages 237-240.]
The report on illiteracy shows further the differences resulting from the divergent educational policies of the two sections. In 1850 there were in the slave States 58,444 adult free Negroes who could not read, and in 1860 this number had reached 59,832. In all such commonwealths except Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, and Mississippi there was an increase in illiteracy among the free blacks. These States, however, were hardly exceptional, because Arkansas and Mississippi had suffered a decrease in their free colored population, that of Florida had remained the same, and the difference in the case of Louisiana was very slight. The statistics of the Northern States indicate just the opposite trend. Notwithstanding the increase of persons of color resulting from the influx of the migrating element, there was in all free States exclusive of California, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania a decrease in the illiteracy of Negroes. But these States hardly constitute exceptions; for California, Wisconsin, and Minnesota had very few colored inhabitants in 1850, and the others had during this decade received so many fugitives in the rough that race prejudice and its concomitant drastic legislation impeded the educational progress of their transplanted freedmen.[1] In the Northern States where this condition did not obtain, the benevolent whites had, in co÷peration with the Negroes, done much to reduce illiteracy among them during these years.
[Footnote 1: STATISTICS OF THE FREE COLORED POPULATION OF THE UNITED
STATES IN 1860
 
  STATE          Population| ATTENDING SCHOOL   | ADULTS UNABLE TO READ
                           +----- +----- +------ +-------- +------- +----
  --
                            Males               | Males
                                 Females        |       Females
                                          Total |                 Total
  ---------------- +-------- +----- +------- +------- +------- +-------
  +------
  Alabama            2,690    48      65    114     192     263     455
  Arkansas             144     3       2      5      10      13      23
  California         4,086    69      84    153     497     207     704
  Connecticut        8,627   737     641  1,378     181     164     345
  Delaware          19,829   122     128    250   3,056   3,452   6,508
  Florida              932     3       6      9      48      72     120
  Georgia            3,500     3       4      7     255     318     573
  Illinois           7,628   264     347    611     632     695   1,327
  Indiana           11,428   570     552  1,122     869     904   1,773
  Iowa               1,069    77      61    138      92      77     169
  Kansas               625     8       6     14      25      38      63
  Kentucky          10,684   102     107    209   1,113   1,350   2,463
  Louisiana         18,647   153     122    275     485     717   1,202
  Maine              1,327   148     144    292      25      21      46
  Maryland          83,942    687    668  1,355   9,904  11,795  21,699
  Massachusetts      9,602    800    815  1,615     291     368     659
  Michigan           6,797    555    550  1,105     558     486   1,044
  Minnesota            259      8     10     18       6       6      12
  Mississippi          773      0      2      2      50      60     110
  Missouri           3,572     76     79    155     371     514     885
  New Hampshire        494     49     31     80      15      19      34
  New Jersey        25,318  1,413  1,328  2,741   1,720   2,085   3,805
  New York          49,005  2,955  2,739  5,694   2,653   3,260   5,913
  North Carolina    30,463     75     58    133   3,067   3,782   6,849
  Ohio              36,673  2,857  2,814  5,671   2,995   3,191   6,186
  Oregon               128      0      0      2       7       5      12
  Pennsylvania      56,949  3,882  3,691  7,573   3,893   5,466   9,359
  Rhode Island       3,952    276    256    532     119     141     260
  South Carolina     9,914    158    207    365     633     783   1,416
  Tennessee          7,300     28     24     52     743     952   1,695
  Texas                355      4      7     11      25      37      62
  Vermont              709     65     50    115      27      20      47
  Virginia          58,042     21     20     41   5,489   6,008  12,397
  Wisconsin          1,171     62     50    112      53      45      98
 
  TERRITORIES
 
  Colorado              46              No returns
  Dakota                 0      0      0      0       0       0       0
  District Columbia 11,131    315    363    678   1,131   2,224   3,375
  Nebraska              67      1      1      2       6       7      13
  Nevada                45      0      0      0       6       1       7
  New Mexico            85      0      0      0      12      15      27
  Utah                  30      0      0      0       0       0       0
  Washington            30      0      0      0       1       0       1
 
  Total            488,070 16,594 16,035 32,629  41,275  50,461  91,736
 
  See Seventh Census of the United States, vol. 1.]
How the problem of educating these people on free soil was solved can be understood only by keeping in mind the factors of the migration. Some of these Negroes had unusual capabilities. Many of them had in slavery either acquired the rudiments of education or developed sufficient skill to outwit the most determined pursuers. Owing so much to mental power, no man was more effective than the successful fugitive in instilling into the minds of his people the value of education. Not a few of this type readily added to their attainments to equip themselves for the best service. Some of them, like Reverend Josiah Henson, William Wells Brown, and Frederick Douglass, became leaders, devoting their time not only to the cause of abolition, but also to the enlightenment of the colored people. Moreover, the free Negroes migrating to the North were even more effective than the fugitive slaves in advancing the cause of education.[1] A larger number of the former had picked up useful knowledge. In fact, the prohibition of the education of the free people of color in the South was one of the reasons they could so readily leave their native homes.[2] The free blacks then going to the Northwest Territory proved to be decidedly helpful to their benefactors in providing colored churches and schools with educated workers, who otherwise would have been brought from the East at much expense.
[Footnote 1: Howe, "The Refugee from Slavery", p. 77.]

[Footnote 2: Russell, "The Free Negro in Virginia" (Johns Hopkins University Studies, series xxxi., No. 3, p. 107).]
On perusing this sketch the educator naturally wonders exactly what intellectual progress was made by these groups on free soil. This question cannot be fully answered for the reason that extant records give no detailed account of many colored settlements which underwent upheaval or failed to endure. In some cases we learn simply that a social center flourished and was then destroyed. On "Black Friday," January 1, 1830, eighty Negroes were driven out of Portsmouth, Ohio, at the request of one or two hundred white citizens, set forth in an urgent memorial.[1] After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 the colored population of Columbia, Pennsylvania, dropped from nine hundred and forty-three to four hundred and eighty-seven.[2] The Negro community in the northwestern part of that State was broken up entirely.[3] The African Methodist and Baptist churches of Buffalo lost many communicants. Out of a membership of one hundred and fourteen, the colored Baptist church of Rochester lost one hundred and twelve, including its pastor. About the same time eighty-four members of the African Baptist church of Detroit crossed into Canada.[4] The break-up of these churches meant the end of the day and Sunday-schools which were maintained in them. Moreover, the migration of these Negroes aroused such bitter feeling against them that their schoolhouses were frequently burned. It often seemed that it was just as unpopular to educate the blacks in the North as in the South. Ohio, Illinois, and Oregon enacted laws to prevent them from coming into those commonwealths.
[Footnote 1: Evans, "A History of Scioto County, Ohio", p. 613.]

[Footnote 2: Siebert, "The Underground Railroad", p. 249.]

[Footnote 3: "Ibid"., p. 249.]

[Footnote 4: "Ibid"., p. 250.]
We have, however, sufficient evidence of large undertakings to educate the colored people then finding homes in less turbulent parts beyond the Ohio. In the first place, almost every settlement made by the Quakers was a center to which Negroes repaired for enlightenment. In other groups where there was no such opportunity, they had the co÷peration of certain philanthropists in providing facilities for their mental and moral development. As a result, the free blacks had access to schools and churches in Hamilton, Howard, Randolph, Vigo, Gibson, Rush, Tipton, Grant, and Wayne counties, Indiana,[1] and Madison, Monroe, and St. Clair counties, Illinois. There were colored schools and churches in Logan, Clark, Columbiana, Guernsey, Jefferson, Highland, Brown, Darke, Shelby, Green, Miami, Warren, Scioto, Gallia, Ross, and Muskingum counties, Ohio.[2] Augustus Wattles said that with the assistance of abolitionists he organized twenty-five such schools in Ohio counties after 1833.[3] Brown County alone had six. Not many years later a Negro settlement in Gallia County, Ohio, was paying a teacher fifty dollars a quarter.[4]
[Footnote 1: Wright, "Negro Rural Communities in Indiana," "Southern Workman", vol. xxxvii., p. 165; Boone, "The History of Education in Indiana", p. 237; and Simmons, "Men of Mark", pp. 590 and 948.]

[Footnote 2: Simmons, "Men of Mark", p. 948; and Hickok, "The Negro in Ohio", p. 85.]

[Footnote 3: Howe, "Historical Collections of Ohio", p. 355.]

[Footnote 4: Hickok, "The Negro in Ohio", p. 89.]
Still better colored schools were established in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in Springfield, Columbus, and Cincinnati, Ohio. While the enlightenment of the few Negroes in Pittsburgh did not require the systematic efforts put forth to elevate the race elsewhere, much was done to provide them educational facilities in that city. Children of color first attended the white schools there just as they did throughout the State of Pennsylvania.[1] But when larger numbers of them collected in this gateway to the Northwest, either race feeling or the pressing needs of the migrating freedmen brought about the establishment of schools especially adapted to their instruction. Such efforts were frequent after 1830.[2] John Thomas Johnson, a teacher of the District of Columbia, moved to Pittsburgh in 1838 and became an instructor in a colored school of that city.[3] Cleveland had an "African School" as early as 1832. John Malvin, the moving spirit of the enterprise in that city, organized about that time "The School Fund Society" which established other colored schools in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Springfield.[4]
[Footnote 1: Wickersham, "Education in Pennsylvania", p. 248.]

[Footnote 2: "Life of Martin R. Delaney", p. 33.]

[Footnote 3: "Special Report of the U.S. Com. of Ed.", 1871, p. 214.]

[Footnote 4: Hickok, "The Negro in Ohio", p. 88.]
The concentration of the freedmen and fugitives at Cincinnati was followed by efforts to train them for higher service. The Negroes themselves endeavored to provide their own educational facilities in opening in 1820 the first colored school in that city. This school did not continue long, but another was established the same year. Thereafter one Mr. Wing, who kept a private institution, admitted persons of color to his evening classes. On account of a lack of means, however, the Negroes of Cincinnati did not receive any systematic instruction before 1834. After that year the tide turned in favor of the free blacks of that section, bringing to their assistance a number of daring abolitionists, who helped them to educate themselves. Friends of the race, consisting largely of the students of Lane Seminary, had then organized colored Sunday and evening schools, and provided for them scientific and literary lectures twice a week. There was a permanent colored school in Cincinnati in 1834. In 1835 the Negroes of that city contributed $150 of the $1000 expended for their education. Four years later, however, they raised $889.03 for this purpose, and thanks to their economic progress, this sacrifice was less taxing than that of 1835.[1] In 1844 Rev. Hiram Gilmore opened there a high school which among other students attracted P.B.S. Pinchback, later Governor of Louisiana. Mary E. Miles, a graduate of the Normal School at Albany, New York, served as an assistant of Gilmore after having worked among her people in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.[2]
[Footnote 1: "Ibid.", p. 83.]

[Footnote 1: Delany, "The Condition of the Colored People", etc., 132.]
The educational advantages given these people were in no sense despised. Although the Negroes of the Northwest did not always keep pace with their neighbors in things industrial they did not permit the white people to outstrip them much in education. The freedmen so earnestly seized their opportunity to acquire knowledge and accomplished so much in a short period that their educational progress served to disabuse the minds of indifferent whites of the idea that the blacks were not capable of high mental development.[1] The educational work of these centers, too, tended not only to produce men capable of ministering to the needs of their environment, but to serve as a training center for those who would later be leaders of their people. Lewis Woodson owed it to friends in Pittsburgh that he became an influential teacher. Jeremiah H. Brown, T. Morris Chester, James T. Bradford, M.R. Delany, and Bishop Benjamin T. Tanner obtained much of their elementary education in the early colored schools of that city.[2] J.C. Corbin, a prominent educator before and after the Civil War, acquired sufficient knowledge at Chillicothe, Ohio, to qualify in 1848 as an assistant in Rev. Henry Adams's school in Louisville.[3] John M. Langston was for a while one of Corbin's fellow-students at Chillicothe before the former entered Oberlin. United States Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi spent some time in a Quaker seminary in Union County, Indiana.[4] Rev. J.T. White, one of the leading spirits of Arkansas during the Reconstruction, was born and educated in Clark County in that State.[5] Fannie Richards, still a teacher at Detroit, Michigan, is another example of the professional Negro equipped for service in the Northwest before the Rebellion.[6] From other communities of that section came such useful men as Rev. J.W. Malone, an influential minister of Iowa; Rev. D.R. Roberts, a very successful pastor of Chicago; Bishop C.T. Shaffer of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; Rev. John G. Mitchell, for many years the Dean of the Theological Department of Wilberforce University; and President S.T. Mitchell, once the head of the same institution.[7]
[Footnote 1: This statement is based on the accounts of various western freedmen.]

[Footnote 2: Simmons, "Men of Mark", p. 113.]

[Footnote 3: Simmons, "Men of Mark", p. 829.]

[Footnote 4: "Ibid.", p. 948.]

[Footnote 5: "Ibid.", p. 590.]

[Footnote 6: "Ibid.", p. 1023.]

[Footnote 7: Wright, "Negro Rural Communities in Indiana," "Southern Workman", vol. xxxvii., p. 169.]
In the colored settlements of Canada the outlook for Negro education was still brighter. This better opportunity was due to the high character of the colonists, to the mutual aid resulting from the proximity of the communities, and to the co÷peration of the Canadians. The previous experience of most of these adventurers as sojourners in the free States developed in them such noble traits that they did not have to be induced to ameliorate their condition. They had already come under educative influences which prepared them for a larger task in Canada. Fifteen thousand of sixty thousand Negroes in Canada in 1860 were free born.[1] Many of those, who had always been free, fled to Canada[2] when the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 made it possible for even a dark-complexioned Caucasian to be reduced to a state of bondage. Fortunately, too, these people settled in the same section. The colored settlements at Dawn, Colchester, Elgin, Dresden, Windsor, Sandwich, Queens, Bush, Wilberforce, Hamilton, St. Catherines, Chatham, Riley, Anderton, Maiden, Gonfield, were all in Southern Ontario. In the course of time the growth of these groups produced a population sufficiently dense to facilitate co÷peration in matters pertaining to social betterment. The uplift of the refugees was made less difficult also by the self-denying white persons who were their first teachers and missionaries. While the hardships incident to this pioneer effort all but baffled the ardent apostle to the lowly, he found among the Canadian whites so much more sympathy than among the northerners that his work was more agreeable and more successful than it would have been in the free States. Ignoring the request that the refugees be turned from Canada as undesirables, the white people of that country protected and assisted them.[3] Canadians later underwent some change in their attitude toward their newcomers, but these British-Americans never exhibited such militant opposition to the Negroes as sometimes developed in the Northern States.[4]
[Footnote 1: Siebert, "The Underground Railroad", p. 222.]

[Footnote 2: "Ibid.", pp. 247-250.]

[Footnote 3: Siebert, "The Underground Railroad", pp. 201 and 233.]

[Footnote 4: "Ibid.", 233.]
The educational privileges which the refugees hoped to enjoy in Canada, however, were not easily exercised. Under the Canadian law they could send their children to the common schools, or use their proportionate share of the school funds in providing other educational facilities.[1] But conditions there did not at first redound to the education of the colored children.[2] Some were too destitute to avail themselves of these opportunities; others, unaccustomed to this equality of fortune, were timid about having their children mingle with those of the whites, and not a few clad their youths so poorly that they became too unhealthy to attend regularly[3]. Besides, race prejudice was not long in making itself the most disturbing factor. In 1852 Benjamin Drew found the minds of the people of Sandwich much exercised over the question of admitting Negroes into the public schools. The same feeling was then almost as strong in Chatham, Hamilton, and London[4]. Consequently, "partly owing to this prejudice, and partly to their own preference, the colored people, acting under the provision of the law that allowed them to have separate schools, set up their own schools in Sandwich and in many other parts of Ontario"[5]. There were separate schools at Colchester, Amherstburg, Sandwich, Dawn, and Buxton[6]. It was doubtless because of the rude behavior of white pupils toward the children of the blacks that their private schools flourished at London, Windsor, and other places[7]. The Negroes, themselves, however, did not object to the coeducation of the races. Where there were a few white children in colored settlements they were admitted to schools maintained especially for pupils of African descent.[8] In Toronto no distinction in educational privileges was made, but in later years there flourished an evening school for adults of color.[9]
[Footnote 1: Howe, "The Refugees from Slavery", p. 77.]

[Footnote 2: Drew said: "The prejudice against the African race is here [Canada] strongly marked. It had not been customary to levy school taxes on the colored people. Some three or four years since a trustee assessed a school tax on some of the wealthy citizens of that class. They sent their children at once into the public school. As these sat down the white children near them deserted the benches: and in a day or two the white children were wholly withdrawn, leaving the schoolhouse to the teacher and his colored pupils. The matter was at last 'compromised': a notice 'Select School' was put on the schoolhouse: the white children were selected "in" and the black were selected "out"." See Drew's. "A North-side View of Slavery", etc., p. 341.]

[Footnote 3: Mitchell, "The Underground Railroad", pp. 140, 164, and 165.]

[Footnote 4: Drew, "A North-side View of Slavery", pp. 118, 147, 235, and 342.]

[Footnote 5: "Ibid"., p. 341.]

[Footnote 6: Siebert, "The Underground Railroad", p. 229.]

[Footnote 7: "Ibid"., p. 229.]

[Footnote 8: "First Annual Report of the Anti-slavery Society of Canada", 1852, Appendix, p. 22.]

[Footnote 9: "Ibid"., p. 15.]
The most helpful schools, however, were not those maintained by the state. Travelers in Canada found the colored mission schools with a larger attendance and doing better work than those maintained at public expense.[1] The rise of the mission schools was due to the effort to "furnish the conditions under which whatever appreciation of education there was native in a community of Negroes, or whatever taste for it could be awakened there," might be "free to assert itself unhindered by real or imagined opposition."[2] There were no such schools in 1830, but by 1838 philanthropists had established the first mission among the Canadian refugees.[3] The English Colonial Church and School Society organized schools at London, Amherstburg, and Colchester. Certain religious organizations of the United States sent ten or more teachers to these settlements.[4] In 1839 these workers were conducting four schools while Rev. Hiram Wilson, their inspector, probably had several other institutions under his supervision.[5] In 1844 Levi Coffin found a large school at Isaac Rice's mission at Fort Maiden or Amherstburg.[6] Rice had toiled among these people six years, receiving very little financial aid, and suffering unusual hardships.[7] Mr. E. Child, a graduate of Oneida Institute, was later added to the corps of mission teachers.[8] In 1852 Mrs. Laura S. Haviland was secured to teach the school of the colony of "Refugees' Home," where the colored people had built a structure "for school and meeting purposes."[9] On Sundays the schoolhouses and churches were crowded by eager seekers, many of whom lived miles away. Among these earnest students a traveler saw an aged couple more than eighty years old.[10] These elementary schools broke the way for a higher institution at Dawn, known as the Manual Labor Institute.
[Footnote 1: Drew, "A North-side View of Slavery", pp. 118, 147, 235, 341, and 342.]

[Footnote 2: Siebert, "The Underground Railroad", p. 229.]

[Footnote 3: "Father Henson's Story of His Own Life", p. 209.]

[Footnote 4: "First Annual Report of the Anti-slavery Society of Canada", 1852, p. 22.]

[Footnote 5: Siebert, "The Underground Railroad", p. 199.]

[Footnote 6: "While at this place we made our headquarters at Isaac J. Rice's missionary buildings, where he had a large school for colored children. He had labored here among the colored people, mostly fugitives, for six years. He was a devoted, self-denying worker, had received very little pecuniary help, and had suffered many privations. He was well situated in Ohio as pastor of a Presbyterian Church, and had fine prospects before him, but believed that the Lord called him to this field of missionary labor among the fugitive slaves, who came here by hundreds and by thousands, poor, destitute, ignorant, suffering from all the evil influences of slavery. We entered into deep sympathy with him and his labors, realizing the great need there was here for just such an institution as he had established. He had sheltered at his missionary home many hundred of fugitives till other homes for them could be found. This was the great landing point, the principal terminus of the Underground Railroad of the West." See Coffin's "Reminiscences", p. 251.]

[Footnote 7: "Ibid"., pp. 249-251.]

[Footnote 8: Siebert, "The Underground Railroad", p. 202.]

[Footnote 9: Haviland, "A Woman's Work", pp. 192, 196, 201.]

[Footnote 10: Haviland, "A Woman's Work", pp. 192, 193.]
With these immigrants, however, this was not a mere passive participation in the work of their amelioration. From the very beginning the colored people partly supported their schools. Without the co÷peration of the refugees the large private schools at London, Chatham, and Windsor could not have succeeded. The school at Chatham was conducted by Alfred Whipper,[1] a colored man, that at Windsor by Mary E. Bibb, the wife of Henry Bibb,[2] the founder of the Refugees' Home Settlement, and that at Sandwich by Mary Ann Shadd, of Delaware.[3] Moreover, the majority of these colonists showed increasing interest in this work of social uplift.[4] Foregoing their economic opportunities many of the refugees congregated in towns of educational facilities. A large number of them left their first abodes to settle near Dresden and Dawn because of the advantages offered by the Manual Labor Institute. Besides, the Negroes organized "True Bands" which effected among other things the improvement of schools and the increase of their attendance[5].
[Footnote 1: Drew, "A North-side View of Slavery", p. 236.]

[Footnote 2: "Ibid"., p. 322.]

[Footnote 3: Delany, "The Condition of the Colored People", etc., 131.]

[Footnote 4: Howe, "The Refugees from Slavery", pp. 70, 71, 108, and 110.]

[Footnote 5: According to Drew a True Band was composed of colored persons of both sexes, associated for their own improvement. "Its objects," says he, "are manifold: mainly these:--the members are to take a general interest in each other's welfare; to pursue such plans and objects as may be for their mutual advantage; to improve all schools, and to induce their race to send their children into the schools; to break down all prejudice; to bring all churches as far as possible into one body, and not let minor differences divide them; to prevent litigation by referring all disputes among themselves to a committee; to stop the begging system entirely (that is, going to the United States and thereby representing that the fugitives are starving and suffering, raising large sums of money, of which the fugitives never receive the benefit,--misrepresenting the character of the fugitives for industry and underrating the advance of the country, which supplies abundant work for all at fair wages); to raise such funds among themselves as may be necessary for the poor, the sick, and the destitute fugitive newly arrived; and prepare themselves ultimately to bear their due weight of political power." See Drew, "A North-side View of Slavery", p. 236.]
The good results of these schools were apparent. In the same degree that the denial to slaves of mental development tended to brutalize them the teaching of science and religion elevated the fugitives in Canada. In fact, the Negroes of these settlements soon had ideals differing widely from those of their brethren less favorably circumstanced. They believed in the establishment of homes, respected the sanctity of marriage, and exhibited in their daily life a moral sense of the highest order. Travelers found the majority of them neat, orderly, and intelligent[1]. Availing themselves of their opportunities, they quickly qualified as workers among their fellows. An observer reported in 1855 that a few were engaged in shop keeping or were employed as clerks, while a still smaller number devoted themselves to teaching and preaching.[2] Before 1860 the culture of these settlements was attracting the colored graduates of northern institutions which had begun to give men of African blood an opportunity to study in their professional schools.
[Footnote 1: According to the report of the Freedmen's Inquiry Commission published by S.G. Howe, an unusually large proportion of the colored population believed in education. He says: "Those from the free States had very little schooling in youth; those from the slave States, none at all. Considering these things it is rather remarkable that so many can now read and write. Moreover, they show their esteem for instruction by their desire to obtain it for their children. They all wish to have their children go to school, and they send them all the time that they can be spared.

"Canada West has adopted a good system of public instruction, which is well administered. The common schools, though inferior to those of several of the States of the United States, are good. Colored children are admitted to them in most places; and where a separate school is open for them, it is as well provided by the government with teachers and apparatus as the other schools are. Notwithstanding the growing prejudice against blacks, the authorities evidently mean to deal justly by them in regard to instruction; and even those who advocate separate schools, promise that they shall be equal to white schools.

"The colored children in the mixed schools do not differ in their general appearance and behavior from their white comrades. They are usually clean and decently clad. They look quite as the whites; and are perhaps a little more mirthful and roguish. The association is manifestly beneficial to the colored children." See Howe, "The Refugees", etc., p. 77.]

[Footnote 2: Siebert, "The Underground Railroad", p. 226.]


Personae

Terms Defined

Referenced Works