Return to Assorted Teachers in
Various Schools After April 1865
The American Freedmen's
and Union Commission
April 1866
and a History of the Commission

The American Freedmen Vol 1, Issue 1
The American Freedmen's and Union Commission
76 John Street, New York city

"This Commission is constituted to aid, and co-operate with the people of the South, without distinction of race or
color, in the improvement of their condition upon the basis of industry, education, freedom, and Christian morality. No
schools or supply depots shall be maintained from the benefits of which any shall be excluded because of color."
--Art. II Constitution

Bishop Matthew Simpson, Phila., Pres.*
Vice Presidents: Rev. Jos. P. Thompson, D. D., N. Y.; William Lloyd Garrison, Boston; Charles G. Hammond, Chicago
Francis G. Shaw, New York, Chair. Ex. Com.
Rev. Lyman Abbott, Gen. Sec.,
J. Miller McKim, Cor. Sec.,
Geo. C. Ward, Esq., Treas.,
Rev. J. R. Shipherd, Wash'n Sec., Wash'n, D. C.
Rev. J. M. Walden, D. D., West. Sec., Chicago
                                               District Offices - North
New England
8 Studio Building, Boston
Rev. J. H. Chapin, Secretary
New York
76 John Street, New York
Rev. W. G. Hawkins, Secretary
Pennsylvania
424 Walnut Street, Philadelphia
J. E. Rhoades, Secretary
Maryland
5 and 7 Tyson's Building, Baltimore
Rev. F. Israel, Secretary
Ohio
Cleveland
L. F. Mellen, Secretary
Michigan
Detroit
Rev. S. Chase, Secretary
Indiana
Indianapolis
Jacob S. Willetts, Secretary
Northwestern States
25 Lombard Block, Chicago
Rev. J. M. Walden, D.D., Secretary
     
                                           General Agents' South

(These gentlemen are paid by, and responsible to the Central Commission; but are directed to render whatever
services are desired by any Branch in supervising schools or distributing supplies. they will give prompt attention to any
correspondence from any Branch Society. -- Gen. Sec.)
Virginia
Richmond
C. T. Chase, Esq.
North Carolina
Raleigh
Rev. F. P. Brewer
South Carolina
   
Georgia
Macon
E. B. Adams
Florida and Alabama
Tallahassee
George H. Allan
*Bishop Matthew Simpson resigned by March 1866 and was replaced with Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon Chase.

By the fall of 1866 some officer rotation had occured and the Indiana Branch office had disappeared. However there
was now the addition of a Western Division in Cincinnati, a Pacific Division in San Francisco, and a British North
America in Montreal.

The following are the Executive Committee members in the fall of 1866
New England Branch
John Parkman, Martin Brimmer, Wendell P. Garrison
New York branch
Francis George Shaw, Henry A. Dike, Nathan Bishop
Pennsylvania Branch
Francis R. Cope, Samuel S. White
Baltimore Branch
Hugh L. bond, F. Israel, Chas W. Bond
North-western Branch
R. W. Patterson, S. B. Gookins, M. D., C. Crawford
Western Branch
H. M. Storrs, Thomas Kennedy, Levi Coffin
Cleveland Branch
Joseph Perkins, H. B. Knight, H. B. Spelman
Michigan Branch
William Hogarth, Supply Chase, David Plumb
Pacific Department
Not yet appointed
Branch Offices
New England
8 Studio Building, Boston
Rev. J. H. Chapin, Secretary
New York
76 John Street, New York
Rev. Crammond Kennedy, Secretary
Pennsylvania
424 Walnut Street, Philadelphia
Robert R. Corson, Secretary
Maryland
5 and 7 Tyson's Building, Baltimore
Rev. F. Israel, Secretary
Northwestern
25 Lombard Block, Chicago
Rev. H. B. Holmes, Secretary
Western
Cincinnati
Thomas Kennedy, Secretary
Northern Ohio
Cleveland
L. F. Mellen, Secretary
Michigan
Detroit
Rev. S. Chase, Secretary
Pacific
302 Montgomery St, San Francisco,
Cal.
Rev. O. C. Wheeler, Gen. Agent
British North American
Montreal
Rev. D. C. Haynes, Secretary
Bishop Matthew Simpson

Photographer: Matthew Brady
William Lloyd Garrison
Francis George Shaw
Mass Historical Society
                             History of the American Freedmen's Union

In January 1862 Mr. E. L. Pierce wrote to Rev. Manning of Boston and Mrs. Samuel Cabot discussing the
conditions of the Freedmen at Port Royal, South Carolina. An organization was formed on February 7, 1862
called the
Education Commission. The object of the commission was to be: "the industrial, intellectural, moral
and religious improvement of persons released from slavery in the course of the war for the Union."

By March 30 1862, thirty-one teachers set sail for
Port Royal. The teachers received transportation, subsistence,
and quarters. In April, twenty more teachers were sent out. In all, seventy-two teachers were sent to Port Royal in
the first year. Auxiliary societies were organized town by town until about seventy societies were supportng
teachers. Sometimes churches would adopt teachers, even members of a different church.

The different societies came together on May 9, 1865 to form the American Freedmen's Aid Union which was
composed of the aid societies from New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New England. Pittsburgh and west
joined in August of 1865 to form the American Freedmen's Commission.

The next step was to link with the American Union Commission that provided aid to both whites and freedmen.
The new name was "The Freedmen's Aid Union Commission. The new constitution read that the schools should
be open to "all applicants without distinction of race or color." While all the schools were now open to whites or
blacks this did not translate into a real program. A few white children would come in but the schools remained
different shades of black.

Finnaly, all the societies throught the U.S. joined into one group. In May of 1866, without any sectarian
connection, the organization became The Freedmen's Union Commission.

The journal of the organization was published beginning in January, 1865. The name of the journal was the
Freedmen's Record. All teachers received copies of the Journal but others could subscibe to it. The organization
also published a book for freedmen for eight cents a copy called Handbook for American Citizens. This book
contained the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Emancipation Proclamation, parliamentary rules and a
few important historical dates.

The Union adopted a seven-point program for its mission in the south:
1. Systematic organization and grading of the schools;
2.Thorough training of all pupils in the elementary branches;
3.Careful preparation of the best pupils for normal classes;
4. Normal instruction and employment of pupils in teaching as far as possible;
5. Engaging southern white and colored teachers in the work;
6. Enlisting the cooperation of the people in the work of supporting the schools to a still greater extent; and
7. Keeping carefully in view the ultimate object of paving the way for a free school system in the South, sustained
by their own people of and for all classes and races.

Report (American Freedmen, Vol 1, Issue 2)
Jacksonville, Fla., March 31, 1866. Rev. LtMAN Abbott, General Secretary, etc.:

Dear Sir: I have the honor to present the following statement as my report for the month of March, 1866. Leaving New York
on the 26th February, I took the overland .route to Florida via Washington, Fredericksburg, Richmond, Petersburg,
Raleigh, Columbia, and Charleston, and thence by steamer to Florida. I made short stops at all these places, and was thus
enabled to visit about thirty schools under the care of the Commission. As your agents at the several places named have
doubtless given you full statistics of their schools, I will not repeat the many interesting facts already communicated by
them, but will proceed to mention a few incidents of my trip which may interest you.

Schools.
The eagerness and thirst for knowledge manifested by the freedmen's children has been to me a matter of continual
surprise. They flock around the school-room door long before the hour of opening, study diligently through the regular
school hours, and beg for admittance to the adult school at night, at which time they may frequently be found in the same
class with their parents helping them through the mysteries of the^alphabet or some simple problem in arithmetic.

The singing of the children is excellent, and averages as well as in the best white schools at the North. I have never heard
"Rally round the flag" sung with finer effect than was given by one of the colored schools of Richmond. The children show
quick perceptive powers, and many progress rapidly. I saw some who had learned their letters within three days. Others
who learned their letters in October last, were busy with their writing lessons, some of which were very neat. Truancy is
almost unknown. Boys kept at home by their parents (who are of sourse very poor) often run away and go to school.

One very pleasing feature in the colored schools observable all over the South, is the neatness and cleanliness of the
children. Though cheaply clad, they are clean, and in some schools I have looked in vain for one untidy child. This is
remarkable «when we consider the humble circumstances of their parents. Poor women, formerly slaves, who cultivate
cotton all day with the hoe in the sun, on shares, will often work extra hours, in order to send their children to school
decently dressed. Esteeming education as a boon, they willingly make sacrifices to obtain it for their children. Many of the
children repay them by instructing their parents at home at night. In frequent addresses to the children, I have encouraged
them to persevere in this good work. Not less than five thousand children have promised me since I left New York that they
would teach their parents to read and write.

ADULT SCHOOLS.
The adult schools have deeply interested me. Men and women who have toiled hard all day long, come at night to those
schools, eagerly embracing this opportunity for instruction. Wives may be seen by the side of their husbands, also fathers
and sons, mothers and daughters. Old men and women of sixty and seventy years are frequently seen just learning their
letters. Extreme age does not deter these people from learning what they can. At
Fernandina an old man of eighty years,
called "Black Dan " (a native African of pure blood), has but just learned to read. Another old man,
by name "Uncle Ned," known to be one hundred years old, had actually learned his letters before his death, which
occurred a few months ago. When asked, Why, at his extreme age, he was so anxious to learn to read? he said, "I must
soon die,—as the tree falls, so it mil lay, massa."

These incidents show conclusively the wonderful desire of these people for education. In the words of one of your agents,
it amounts to a " perfect mania." The first sight that met my eyes as I landed at Fort Johnson, from which Edmund Ruffln
fired the first shot at Fort Sumter, was an intelligent colored soldier in his sentry-box. He rose and saluted us as we
entered. By his side were a Bible and three school-books. In a tour among the forts of Charleston Harbor, all of which are
garrisoned by colored troops, I saw hut one pack of cards and at least a hundred spelling-books. Many soldiers wished me
to procure them a supply, which fact I communicated to Mr. Tomlinson, the efficient Superintendent at Charleston. At Fort
Wagner I saw quite a •number of colored soldiers with school-books and slates. They were anxious for regular instruction
from a qualified teacher. I was informed by the Chaplain of the 34th U. S. C. T., that out of the nine hundred (900) men
recently mustered out of service, in that regiment, ninety per cent could read and write. Labor.

The argument of ^the secessionists and their Northern sympathizers,that the "negro wouldn't work," has been refuted by
the simple logic of the fact that "he has gone to work." Hardly an able-bodied freedman can be found unemployed. Most of
them make contracts with the planters to work through the season either for wages or for a portion of the crop. Provisions
are furnished them by the planters—the men receiving in addition from ten to eighteen dollars per month. Women's wages
are somewhat lower, and even children can earn something. These contracts are signed by the planter and freedman at
the office and with the approval of the nearest Bureau officer. Sometimes when a large number of hands have been thus
hired the planter has divided them into squads of ten each, who elect each a captain from among their own number, so as
to avoid any necessity for any kind of " overseer."

So far there seems to be a good prospect of a large crop of cotton and corn. The enemies of the freedman having failed
in their former argument about his not working, now confidently predict that by midsummer, the romance of freedom having
worn off, the plantations will be deserted and the crop ruined. At all events, there are at present no indications of this
character as far as I can learn.

Those who are ill or too old or too young to work are mostly supported by relations, and there are very few supported by
Government in this vicinity. General Ely, at Columbia, S. C., has a plantation where he sends all who are dependent upon
the Bureau. If any able-bodied men are found loitering about Columbia, they are sent to this plantation and made to work
for the support of the indigent. They are soon willing to go to work for themselves. Many support their families by taking in
washing or in domestic service, others by selling refreshments on the cars. At Branchville, S. C., several clean and well-
dressed women came on the cars with cooked meats, eggs, and chickens for sale on a large tray, which had also a coffee-
pot with cups, etc. The food arid dishes looked clean and wholesome. At Fort Stedman, near Petersburg, I found an old
woman busily engaged in digging up bullets, which she sold for six cents per pound, and thus supported her little family,
who lived in a hut inside the fort. In fact all, or very nearly all, seem to get along in some way, and their necessities being
but few, but a small number, comparatively speaking, become dependent upon the Bureau. They always unhesitatingly
regard Northern men as friends, and their admiration for General Sherman and his brave boys is unbounded. One old
woman said she was "glorified to God when Mister Sherman and Ma Yankees done won and set us free"

Owing to the short time I have been in Florida, I shall not attempt in my present report to speak at length of the schools in
that State. There are in all about thirty teachers and two thousand scholars. Here, as elsewhere, the same.eagerness is
manifested by the children to acquire an education; and here as in other parts of the South our teachers are laboring with
energy and faithful zeal amidst many discouragements. Some of these schools have already been visited, and I shall, as
soon as possible, visit other parts of the State, so as to see for myself what is being done, and will in i due time report
thereon. Yours, etc.,

George H. Allan.

OUR AGENTS AND THE MINISTRY. (American Freedmen Vol II, Number 7, Oct 1867)
Rev. William Bradley, who collects for us in New-Jersey as his leisure and his strength permit, intends to call soon upon
our friends in his district for the support of two teachers whom we have appointed, like many others, on faith. We need not
commend him to the confidence of his brother ministers, for he has that already; nor to the people, for they know well who
he is and what he wants.

Rev. W. R. Long, our indefatigable canvasser, after collecting $492.33 in Saratoga Springs, for which we hereby return
our hearty thanks in the name of the work we are prosecuting and the millions it is blessing, has gone to Buffalo, and will
help our auxiliary in that city to more than double the number of its teachers. Wherever he goes, he obtains substantial
proofs of the confidence which the people have, not only in him, but also in the principles and conduct of our enterprise.

Rev. Erastus Colton has gone to Sing Sing, but we hope he will not need to remain more than a week, for that is time
enough to spend in collecting $250 for our new and much needed work in Delaware. Afterward he will probably help our
ladies in Yonkers, who are preparing for a fair, to obtain subscriptions before it opens, so that at least five teachers shall
represent our " banner town " of the last season.

Rev. Robert Pierce is doing bravely in St. Lawrence county. De Kalb, a spirited little village, pledges itself for the support
of a teacher. Lisbon's representative will soon be in the field, and Ogdensburg already has paid the first quarterly
instalment of Miss Eastman's support,.

These jottings, as their heading indicate, are not complete without something about the ministry. We have no faults to find,
no criticisms to make, and no greater favors to ask than we are constantly receiving. All that we want for our agents, or
they for themselves, is a fair hearing, and that is afforded by the pastors of all sorts of churches. It is too near the noon of
the world's day for a great organization of earnest Christian men, actively engaged in opening the South for the
permanent establishment of the common-school system, to be long embarrassed, far less cornered or suppressed, by a
reiterated cry that it is not a missionary society, and, therefore, that is secular or profane. Eminent ministers of all
denominations maintain that the first part of the charge is a positive recommendation, when the nature of our work and our
government is considered, and that the second, which is an inference, is false. Our schools and our teachers show that
freedom's work may safely be trusted to the Christianity and patriotism of the nation, and that the society which conducts it
needs neither to be ecclesiastical nor missionary, to be either essentially Christian or eminently successful.

Many ministers in denominations that have denominational societies for the education of the freedmen, prefer to work with
us on the unsectarian plan; and the number of these men is rapidly increasing. So much the better for them and the work.
We thank them and all the rest for their confidence, their courtesy, and their invaluable assistance.

Messrs. Aaron Benedict and David Clark, of Connecticut, are supporting a first-class teacher each, under our auspices.
The latter did the same last season. Evan Jones, Esq., of Plainfield, sustains a colored teacher in Richmond, Va. We want
twenty men to give $250 each for the support of twenty competent colored teachers in Delaware and Maryland.

Edward F. Davison, Esq., who has performed the duties of treasurer for over a year, -was unanimously called to that
position ,by our Board of Trustees, at its meeting on Monday, September 30th.



By March 1867 the branch offices in the Pacific and Britsh North American had closed.

See
American Freedmen for end of the Cincinnati and Cleveland Societies

See Supplimentary Circular for Teachers (Character)

See American Union Questionaire Summary on What Should be done in the South by Freedmen Aid Societies 1866

See
American Union Questionare to T. W. Osborn Assistant Commissioner Florida,  April 23, 1866

See
American Union Questionaire to Laura M. Towne, Sea Island, April 1866

See
Florida Report - Rev Crammond Kennedy, May, 1867
Salmon Chase
Secretary of the Treasury
Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court
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