Page images
PDF
EPUB

industrial and mechanical training.' Tho generalinstruction heretofore given in the schools, it is feareil, has been too exclusively intellectual, too little of that kind which produces intelligent and skilleul workmen, and therefore not thoroughly adapted to racial dovelopment nor to fitting for the practical duties of lifo. Perhaps it has not been philosophical nor practical, but too empirical and illusory in fitting a man for“the conditions in which he will be compelleıl to carn his livelihood and nufold his possibilities.” The effort has been to fit au alult's clothing to a child, to take the highest courses of instruction and apply them to untntored minds. Misguided statesm:inship and philanthropy have opened high schools and universities and offered conrses in Greek and Latin and Hebrew, in theology and philosophy, to those who need the rudiments of education and instruction in handicraft." This industrial training is a helpful accompaniment to mental training, and hoth should be based on strong woral character. It has been charged that the negroes have had too strong an inclination to become preachers or teachers, but this may be in part due to the fact that their education has been ill adjusted to their needs and surroundings, and that when the pupils leave school they do so without having beon prepared for the competition which awaits them in the struggle for a higher life.

Whatever may be the discouragements and difficulties and however insufficient may bo tlo school attendance, it is a cheering fact that the schools for the negroes do not encounter the prejudices which were too common a few years ago. In fact, there may almost be said to be coming a time when soon there will be a sustaining public opinion. The struggle of man to throw off' fetters and riso into true manhood and savo souls from bondago is a most instructivo and thrilling spectacle, awakening sympathetic enthusiasm on the part of all who love what is noblo.

Having gathered testimony from many of the leading colored schools of the South in answer to these direct questions, “Is there any opposition from the white race to your work in educating the negroes? If so, does that opposition imperil person or property?” I group it into a condensed statement:

*

1. CONGREGATIONALISTS. Storrs School, Atlanta, says: “There is no aggressive opposition to our work among the negroes.” Fisk University, Nashville: “There is no special manifestation of open opposition to our work on the part of the white people; indeed, the better citizens have a good degreo of sympathy with our work and take a genuine pride in the university.” Talladeya College, Alabama: “I do not know of any opposition from the white race to our work.

We have more opposition from the very peoplo for whom we are especially laboring than from the other race.” By act of incorporation, February 28, 1880, tho college may hold, purchaso, dispose of, and convey property to such an amount as the business of the college requires, and so long as the property, real or personal, is used for purposes of education it is exempt from taxation of any kind. Knoxville College: "No opposition from the white race disturbs us." Beach Institute, Savannah, Ga.: “There seems to be hero no active opposition to our work in educating the negroes.". Straight University, New Orleans: "There is no oppositiou from the white race.” Ballard Normal School, Macon, Ga.: “We meet now with no opposition from the whites."

2. METHODISTS. From Philander Smith Collego, Little Rock, Ark.: “No opposition that amounts to anything." Cookman Institute, Jacksonville, Fla.: "There is no active opposition from the white racy to our work, as far as I know.” Clatlin University, Orangeburg, S. C.: “ There is no opposition to it on the part of the white race.” Central Tennesseo College, Nashvillo, Tenn.: “On the part of the intelligent whites there is none; on tho contrary, they have nearly always spoken well of it and seem to rejoice that their former slaves and their children are being educated. Having been here over twenty-seven years, I feel quite safe." Bennett College, Greensboro, N. C., gives an emphatic negativo to both questions. Now Orleans University: “No opposition from whito peoplo to our work.”

3. PRESBYTERIANS.

From Biddle University, Charlotte, N. C.; “No opposition from the white race; on the contrary, very pleasant neighbors."

Principal Washington, of Tuskegee Institute, as the representative of his race, made an aldress at the opening of the great Atlanta Exposition which elicited high commendation from President Cleveland and the presy of the country for its practical wis lo'n anl its broaul, catholic, and patriotic sentiments. The Negro Building, with its interesting exhibits, shows what progress has been mado by the race in thirty years and oxcites strong hopes for the future. The special work displayod by the schools of Hampion and Tuskegee roceived honorable recognition from the jury of awards.

4. BAPTISTS.

Bishop College, Marshall, Tex.: “We have experienced opposition from certain classes of white people to the extent of threats and assaults, yet such havo come from those who were entirely unacquainted with the real work being done, and I think that now sentiment is changing." Leland University, New Orleans, La.: “There is not to my knowledge, nor ever has been sinco I came in 1887, any opposition froin the white race to our work.” Spelman Seminary, Atlanta, Ca.: "We are not aware of any opposition from the white race to our work.” Shaw University, Raleigh, N. C.: "It gives us pleasure to say the feeling for our work among the whites seems of the kindest nature and everything is helpful.” Roger Williams University, Nashville, Tenn.: “No opposition meets 118 from any sources; on the contrary we are generally treated with entire courtesy.” Selma University, Alabama : There is no opposition to our work from the whito race. So far as I know they wish us success.

5. XONDENOMINATIONAL SCHOOLS. Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, Alabama; “I am glad to state that there is practically no opposition on the part of the whites to our work; on the contrary, there are many evidences of their hearty approval.” Hampton Normal and Industrial Institute, Virginia: “This school meets no opposition to the work from the white race, and, with occasional individual exceptions, has never met any, but rereives for itself and its graduate teachers a great amount of practical sympathy, and is glad of this and every opportunity to acknowledge it.”

[ocr errors]

CONCLUSIONS. 1. It follows that in addition to thorough and intelligent training in the discipline of character and virtue, there shouid be given rigid and continuous attention to domestic and social life, to the refinements and comforts and economies of home.

II. Taught in the economies of wise consumption, the race should be trained to acquire habits of thrift, of saving earnings, of avoiding wasto, of accumulating property, of having a stake in good government, in progressive civilization.

III. Besides the rudiments of a good and useful education there is imperative need of manual training, of the proper cultivation of those faculties or mental qualities of observation, of aiming at and reaching a successful end, and of such facility and skill in tools, in practical industries, as will insure remunerative employment and give the power which comes from intelligent work.

IV. Clearer and juster ideas of education, moral and intellectual, obtained in cleaner home life and through respected and capable teachers in schools and churches. Ultimate and only sure reliance for the education of the race is to be found in the public schools, organized, controlled, and liberally supported by the State.

V. Between the races occupying the same territory, possessing under the law equal civil rights and privileges, speculative and unattainable standards should be avoided, and questions should be met as they arise, not by Utopian and partial solutions, but by the impartial application of the tests of justice, right, honor, humanity, and Christianity.

II.

EDUCATION OF THE NEGROES SINCE 1860.

(By J. L. M. Curry, LL. D., secretary of the trustees of tho John F. Slater fund.)

INTRODUCTION. The purpose of this paper is to put into permanent form a narrative of what has been done at the South for the education of the negro since 1860. The historical and statistical details may seem dry and uninteresting, but we can understand the sig. niticance of this unprecedented educational movement only by a study of its boginnings and of the difficulties which had to be overcome. The present generation, near as it is to the genesis of the work, can not appreciate its magnitude, nor the greatne-a of the victory which has been achieved, withont a knowledge of the facts which this recital gives in connecteil order. The knowledge is needful, also, for a comprelension of the future possible scope and kind of calucation to be given to the AfroAmerican race. In the field of education weshall be unwise not to reckon with such forces as custom, physical constitution, heredity, racial characteristics and possibilities, and not to remember that these and other causes may determine the limitations under which we must act. The education of this people lias a far-reaching and complicated connection with their destiny, with onr institutions, and possibly with tho Dark Continent, which may assume an importance akin, if not superior, to what it had centuries ago. The partition of its territory, the international questions which are springing up, and the effect of contact with and government by a superior race, must necessarily give an enhanced iriportance to Africa as a factor in commerce, in relations of governments, and in civilization. England will soon have an unbroken line of territorial possessions from Egypt to the Cape of Good Hope. Gerinwy, France, Portugal, Italy, Spain, possibly Russia, will soon have such footholds in Africa as, whatever else may occur, will tend to the development of century-paralyzed resources.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

III. Almost synchronously with the earliest occupation of any portion of the beceding States by the Union army efforts were begun to givo the negroes some schooling. In September, 1861, under the guns of Fortress Monroe, a school was opened for the contrabands of war.” In 1862 schools were extended to Washington, Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Newport News, and afterwards to the Port Royal islands on the coast of South Carolina, to Newbern and Roanoko Island in North Carolina. The proclamation of emancipation, January 1, 1863, gave freedom to all blaves reached by the armies, increased the refugees, and awakened a fervor of religious and philanthropic enthusiasm for meeting the physical, moral, and intellectual wants of those suddenly thrown upon charity. In October, 1863, General Banks, then commanding the Department of the Gulf, created commissioners of enrollment, who established the first public schools for Louisiana. Seven were soon in operation, with 23 teachers and an averago attendance of 1,422 scholars. On March 22, 1864, he issued General Order No. 38, which constituted a board of cducation “for the rudimental instruction of the freedmen” in the department, so as to " place within their reach the elements of knowledge.”

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

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

On September 26, 1861, tho Secretary of War, through Adjutant-General Thomas, issued Order No. 28, in which he said: “To prevent confusion and embarrassment the general superintendent of freedmen will designate officers, subject to his orders, as superintendents of colored schools, through whom he will arrange the location of all schools, teachers, occupation of houses, and other details pertaining to the education of the freedmen.” In accordance with this order Colonel Eaton removed his

66

assess

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

66

headquarters from Vicksburg to Memphis. On October 20, 1864, he issued sixteen rules and regulations for the guidance of superintendents and teachers of colored schools in bis supervision. These instructions to subordinates were wise and provided for the opening of a sufficient number of schools, for the payment of tuition fees from 25 cents to $1.25 per month for each scholar, accoriling to the ability of the parents; for the admission free of those who could not pay and the furnishing of clothing by the aid of industrial schools, for the government of teachers in connection with the societies needing them, etc. The “industrial schools” were schools in which sewing was taught, and in which a large quantity of the clothing and material sent from the North was made over or made up for freedmen's use, and were highly useful in promoting industrious habits and in teaching useful arts of housewifery.” The supervision under such a competent head caused great improvement in the work, but department efforts were hindered by some representatives of the benevolent societies who did not heartily welcome the more or lerly military supervision. An assistant superintendent, March 31, 1865, reports, in and around Vicksburg and Natchez, 30 schools, 60 teachers, and 4,393 pupils enrolled; in Memphis, 1,590 pupils, and in the entire supervision, 7,360 in attendance.

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

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

IV. By act of Congress, March 3, 1865, the Freedmen's Bureau was created. The scope of its jurisdiction and work extended far beyond education. It embraced abandoned lands and the supply of the negroes with food and clothing, and during 1865 as many as 148,000 were reported as receiving rations. The Quartermaster and Com. missary Departments were place at the service of the agents of the bureau, and, in adılition to freedom, largesses were lavishly given to “reach the great and imperative necessities of the situation." Large and comprehensive powers and resources were placed in the hands of the bureau, and limitations of the authority of the Government were disregarded in order to meet the gravest problem of the century. Millions of recently enslaved negroes, homeless, penniless, ignorant, were to be saved from destitution or perishing, to be prepared for the sudden boon of political equality, to be made self-supporting citizens and to prevent their freedom from becoming a curse to themselves and their liberators. The commissioner was authorized “to seize, hold, use, lease, or sell all buildings and tenements and any lands appertaining to the same, or otherwise formally held, under color of title by the late Confederate States, and buildings or lands lield in trust for the same, and to use the same, or appropriate the proceeds derived therefrom to the education of the freed people. He was empowered also to “cooperate with private benevolent associations in aid of the freedmen." The bureau was attached to the War Department, and was at first limited in duration to one year, but was afterwards prolonged. Gen. 0. 0. Howard was appointed commissioner, with assistants. He says he was invested with "alınost unlimited anthority," and that the act and orders gave “great scope and liberty of action." “Legislative, judicial, and executive powers were combined, reaching all the interests of the freedmen.” On June 2, 1865, the President ordered all officers of the United States to turn over to the bureau "all property, funds, lands, and records in any way connected with freedmen and refugees. This bestowment of despotic power was not considered unwise because of the peculiar exigencies of the times and the condition of the free men, who, being suddenly emancipated by a dynamic process, were without schools, or teachers, or means to procure them. To organize the work a superintendent of schools was appointed for each State. Besides the regular appropriation by Congress the military authorities aided the bureau. Transportation was furnished to teachers, books, and school furniture, and material aid was given to all engaged in education.

General Howard used his large powers to get into his custody the funds scattered in the hands of many officers, which could be made available for the freed.

Funds bearing diflerent names were contributed to the work of " colored
ED 95_44

men.

« PreviousContinue »