|American Union Questionaire to
Major General C. B. Frisk
Ass't Commissioner for Kentucky and Tennessee
April 23, 1866
FROM MAJ.-GEN. C. B. FISK, ASS'T COMMISSIONER FOR KENTUCKY AND TENNESSEE.
Nashville, Tenn., April 23,1866. Rev. Lyman Abbott, Gen. Sec. A. F. TJ. C.:
Dear Sir: I have the honor to respond to your inquiries of a late date as follows:
To the first (1st). It is not desirable that the cast-off ragged clothing of the good friends of the freedmen at the North
should be sent South for distribution. All teachers and missionaries, however, ought to be amply provided with good,
new, substantial clothing, for the aged, the sick, and the children of widows and for orphans. Any general or public
distribution is greatly demoralizing in its effect.
To the second (2d). The keeping open of "a store for the sale of clothing or other articles at about cost," by any
benevolent organization, can be justified only under very peculiar circumstances. Ordinarily they greatly damage the
reputation of any benevolent organization in the minds of the community. Occasion is given for the missionary and
religious character of the work to be called in question, and the motives of laborers in the mission will be suspected.
Don't establish any stores.
To the third (3d). The most economical, healthful, and pleasant way is to have a home owned or controlled by the
Association in which the teachers shall live. When good families will board the teachers it causes a little less immediate
outlay, and is the next best thing.
To the fourth (4th). The Southern people are less hostile than formerly, excepting at points where teachers are
injudicious. The Southerners do not, as a rule, favor the introduction of "Yankee School Marms" in the South; but
prudent teachers gradually overcome the prejudice.
To the fifth (5th). You cannot gather the whites and blacks into the same school. Both races rebel against it. Separate
schools under the same organization can be successfully conducted. I know of no successful experiment of mixing them
in the same school. I do know of signal failure.
To the sixth (6th). The feeling of enmity in the South against freedmen's schools would be modified much by establishing
schools for the whites. This has been demonstrated at several points, particularly at Atlanta, Georgia. I would advise the
establishment of schools for both, but separately for the present. The blacks have many bitter prejudices against the
To the seventh (7th). Put on the steam. Push on the column. As the Association has done comparatively nothing in my
district, I cannot intelligently discuss its management, but would suggest that, as a national organization, we ought to see
and feel more of its operations in our midst. The education of the ignorant, without regard to color, is a glorious object,
and ought to command the generous aid of every patriot and Christian in the land.
To the eighth (8th). A charge should never be made for instruction at any school claiming to be a charity school—
supported by benevolent organizations at the North. Many schools have failed and great disgrace has been brought
upon the cause by an opposite course. The colored people should be encouraged to give towards the support of
schools; but while these are under the patronage of Northern societies, they should give to the schools, and, not be
taxed for the schools^ The effort to collect money from the freedmen would be a failure, unless a strong sentiment be
awakened in the school in favor of paying, and paying virtually changes the school from a mission to a pay-school. The
Southern people speak with great contempt of Northern philanthropy, as it is exhibited in some so-called free schools,
but which are really kept alive by the dimes and half dimes that can be begged from the children. The idea that this is
necessary to give habits of independence to the people is entirely delusive. Let everything that can be done this year
for the Southern poor and ignorant oe done. The Southern States will, by legislation, soon provide for education, etc.
The religious bodies of the South are seriously resolving to elevate the colored man. "The American Freedmans Union
Com mission" can do much towards provoking to "good works," if not to love.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant, Clinton B. Fisk,