Return to Freedmen Aid Societies
The Delaware Association
for the Moral Improvement and Education of the
Colored People
We don't think today of Delaware as a southern state, but Delaware was a slave state and though often overlooked
because of its small size still had a population of African Americans released from slavery by the
13th amendment.
The Emancipation Proclamation had no effect on the slaves of Delaware because they weren't in rebellion. Prior to
the Emancipation Proclamation Lincoln had attempted to pay for Delaware's slaves in a graduated emancipation but
Delaware wouldn't budge.

In 1860 Delaware along with the deep south gave its electoral votes to John Breckinridge. Lincoln did receive 3815
votes out of 16,049 votes. Over 70 Delawareans fought in Southern Armies or supported the Confederate war effort
including Lt. General Leonidas Polk but thousands of Delawareans fought in the United States army and navy. Rear
Admiral Samuel Du Pont was from Delaware.

In 1860 there were 19,827 free blacks in Delaware and 1798 slaves. 1341 of the slaves were in Sussex County, 254
in New Castle and 203 in Kent. However so many former slaves had enlisted in the USCT troops or simply run away
that by the time of the 13th amendment there were only a few hundred left. Delaware was not originally included in
the Freedmen's Bureau sphere, but later it was added to help provide educational opportunities.

In the city of Wilmington by the aid of the African Education Society two very good schools, male and female, were
established in that place.

In 1866, there were only seven schools for African Americans in the State, three at Wilmington, two at Camden, one
at Newport and one at Odessa.

The organization started on December 27, 1866 in a meeting at the house of Samuel Hilles (1) in Wilmington. On
January 9, 1867. One of the men who helped form the organization was Dr. James Carey Thomas of Baltimore. Also
assisting in the organization was General E. M. Gregory, an earnest and efficient assistant commissioner of the
Freedmen's Bureau. They also received the aide of Judge Hugh M. Bond and Francis T. King, of Baltimore,
Maryland; and also by the Right Reverend Alfred Lee, Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Delaware. The
Bishop wrote an appeal to the public, in which he urgently requested public sympathy and cooperation.  They
elected its first executive board with Thomas Kimber as President, William R. Bullock, Secretary and Mr. John G.
Furey was appointed its general agent. It's goal was to start six schools by April. Teachers both white and African
American were placed throughout the state including Wilmington, Dover, Odessa and Middle town. The Episcopal
church's help was declined because they weren't interested in having strictly sectarian help. They didn't object to
scripture but denominationalism.

The first public meeting of the Delaware Association took place on September 5th, 1867 at the Wilmington institute.
At the public meeting Mr. Thomas Kimber, the President, (He was a Quaker and also the President of the Elmira a
Williamsport Railroad Company) stated the purpose of the meeting as: "to briefly to lay before you the results of the
labors of the managers of the past few months, together with a plain statement of the difficulties we have
encountered in the world, and of our present position and prospects in regard to future operations." They were
interested in being part of the American Freedman's Commission as representing the state of Delaware. With four of
the schools in Delaware supported totally by the New York National Commission.

The Freedman's Bureau had by this time been working in Delaware and promised to help build schools by providing
lumber. The Association would pay for the teacher and the community would provide the labor to build the school
house, help lodge the teacher and provide the books. At this point no books were given away but sold at a price
fixed by the Teachers' Committee.

The Delaware Association adopted the Constitution of the American Freedman's Union Commission so that they
could be viewed the same as their sister organization, the Baltimore Association for the Moral Improvement and
Education of the Colored People.  

By September they had established 14 schools across the state. Two in Wilmington, one at New Castle, one at
Dover, one at Milford with the others at Smyrna, Odessa, Seaford, Milton, Georgetown, Laurel, Newark, Christiana,
and Delaware City. The organization also accepted from the African School Society of Wilmington a property on
Orange Street to be used as a Normal school. This would become Howard School. The school was repaired and
improved by the Freedman's Bureau. Major General Gregory of the Bureau erected twelve schools in the first year.
Citizens in New Castle and Dover donated land and money for the erection of the school houses. African Americans
donated over $2,000 for tuition and school books and $4,000 for the building of schools.

By 1876 there were thirty-nine schools. The association had its share of problems including the burning of a school
at Slaughter  Neck.

1874 - 1875

Office 607 Market.

President, Thomas Kimber, Jr.

Vice Presidents, Daniel Corbit, New Castle County; Isaac Jump, M. D, Kent County; Robt, A. Houston, Sussex

Secretary, Wm. P. Bancroft.

Treasurer, Chas. W. Howland.

Executive Committee, Rt. Rev. Alfred Lee, Allen Gawthrop, John P. McLear, Howard M. Jenkins, Wm. P. Bancroft,
Wm. S. Hilles, Edward H. Anderson, David H. Gustus, Thomas Worrell.

Ex-Officio, Thomas Kimber, Jr., President; Sam'l M. Harrington, Secretary; Chas. W. Howland, Treasurer.

Committee on Finance, Win. P. Bancroft, Wm. M. Canby, John P. McLear

Managers, Rt. Rev. Alfred Lee, Lea Pusey, W. Corbit Spruance, George D. Armstrong, Wm. S. Hilles, John P.
McLear, Sam'l M. Harrington, George W. Bush, Wm. R. Bullock, M. D., E. Q, Sewall, Henry B. Seidel, Job H. Jackson,
Edward Tatnall, Jr., Wm. Cummins, M. D., John R. Tatum, Wm. P. Bancroft, Howard M. Jenkins, Allen Gawthrop,
Edward H. Anderson, David H. Gustus.

Superintendent, M. S. Casperson, 607 Market.

Growth of the Delaware School System
The first superintendent of schools for colored children, was Rev. J. G. Furey and was succeeded by Samuel
Woolman. He was succeeded by Abbie C. Peckham in 1868, who served until 1874, when Miss Mary S. Casperson
succeeded her, and was followed by Mrs. Kate Irvine. In 1876, Henry C. Conrad was elected. He found that there
had been 29 schools open during the month of February preceding, with a total enrollment of 1,197 pupils. There
were in 1886 24 schools in New Castle county and 1,872 pupils; 25 schools in Kent county with 1,480 pupils; 24
schools in Sussex county with 1,045 pupils. There are sixty-eight schools in the state outside the City of Wilmington
with 3,563 pupils enrolled. At first the schools were supported by donations from the Delaware Association. The
school sessions were 4 1/2 months.

By 1875 there were 29 schools in existence for African Americans. In 1875 a law was enacted giving them the tax
levied upon themselves towards the support of their schools. This law marks the beginning in Delaware of the public
support for African American schools (except for the support that was given by the city of Wilmington.)  In 1881 an
appropriation was made from the State Treasury, followed in 1883. The total distribution among the schools in 1886
was $7,166,69. Of this amount $4,653,63 came from the Sate appropriation, and $2,511,06 from the school tax
fund. The average length of school term was four and two thirds months. The Dover school, under direction of Julius
B. McGinnis, is the largest, while the schools at New Castle, Middleton, Newark. Smyrna, Milford, Seaford and Lewes
are strong, and the school at South Camden under Lottie E. Scott, has shown great progress. The third annual
Institute of the colored teachers, was held at Smyrna in February 1886. These institutes are directed by the colored
teachers, and serve a good purpose. In 1887 the Association was disbanded and the African School Society took
over the educational work again.

Note: It may be the activities of the African School Society formed in 1809 that gave the Association its head start
with the large number of African American teachers placed in its schools or the assistance of the large educated
free black population of Philadelphia.

(1) Samuel Hilles was an educator who taught at the Westtown School, opened his own school in Wilmington,
Delaware and was the first principal of Haverford College. He was also a participant in the Underground Railroad
and served as the first president of Friends Freedman's Association that was established on November 5, 1863 as
an Association of Friends of Philadelphia and its Vicinity for the Relief of the Colored Freedmen.

DELAWARE. (Report for 1866, Published in American Freedmen Vol II, Issue 1 - April 1867)

In Delaware a Freedman's Educational Society has been formed, of which Thomas Eimber, Jr., President of the
Elmira and Williamsport B. B. Company, is President. From a letter received from him we make the following extracts:

"Our arrangements are rapidly progressing, and we shall start six schools, I hope, in April. The difficulty has been to
obtain teachers, but your kind exertions in procuring two white teachers and this colored man will help us
wonderfully. One of these white teachers we propose to place at Wilmington, and one at Odessa or Middletown. * * *
A more earnest and disinterested effort has not been commenced anywhere than that we are n»w inaugurating, or
one which will be pressed through more firmly, under the greatest opposition and the least assistance from the local
population, than the movement in Delaware. We have declined teachers from the Episcopal Church associations,
who accompany them with sectarian requisitions,—our determination being to introduce a scriptural and religious but
wholly free and unfettered system of education among the colored people."

This has been a matter of frequent discussion, even among their best friends. We have been told by gentlemen
connected with the faculty at Oberlin college, Ohio, where whites and blacks are received upon an equal footing,
that the colored students seldom excel in the abstract sciences, as mathematics and metaphysics, but on the other
hand are among the finest speakers which the Institution produces, having a lively wit, a fertile imagination, and
warm and glowing affections. The following paragraph from a letter of Mr. D. T. Racheldor, of Roanoke Island, N. C.,
confirms this statement:

"Two of the men have an eye to the ministry, and are indeed beginning to preach. They have a very happy talent for
speaking, and I think with a little more culture, they will make able ministers of the New Testament. I do not know that
this people will furnish many statesmen or philosophers, but I believe that with a proper education, they will excel in
oratory. When they speak they seem to have a remarkable faculty of throwing their whole soul into the subject. I
have seen one scholar, about fifty years old, who is just beginning to read his Bible in public, and I would be happy
to introduce him into any of our Northern congregations."

THE DELAWARE ASSOCIATION. (American Freedmen Vol II, Number 5, August 1867)
The following letter speaks for itself, and is another indication of the growing inclination to unity in this work:

Philadelphia, Sept. 6, 1867. J. Miller McKm, Cor. Sec.:

Dear Sir: I am glad to be able to report to you that, at a public meeting of the Delaware Association for the Moral
Improvement and Education of the Colored People, a resolution was adopted last evening authorizing our board of
managers to adopt the Constitution of the American Freedman's Union Commission, and to place ourselves in the
same relations toward that Association as the Baltimore Association occupies.

This will be done at our next meeting on Saturday, if we can get a copy of the Constitution in time for the managers'
meeting. I have telegraphed for it, and hope it will arrive; but you can consider the matter accomplished. I observe by
the Baltimore pamphlet that their organization, after the merging, appears to be maintained, save that the agent,
Richard Janney, was appointed by you. Rev. John GK Furey, our agent, we recommend to you as a conscientious
man, well acquainted with the needs of the State, and ask his appointment.

Please send me a statement of the precise relations this new arrangement will establish j between us, and what we
are expected to do.

Yours truly,

Thomas Kimber.

We need hardly say that we extend to our Delaware friends a very cordial welcome. We took no little encouragement
from the organization of this Society when it was first established, and we doubly hail it now as a brother, before
united to us by sympathy, henceforth in organization.

But it is our earnest desire to extend to them other than a wordy welcome, to show our good wishes by our good
works. The Delaware Association cannot raise much money. It can secure the cooperation of the colored people. It
can obtain school-houses and board; but it looks to us to help them to teachers. Already trusting to the beneficence
which has never failed them, the New-York Branch, complying with their earnest appeals, have promised this
Association six teachers for the coming year. We want to double the number. Delaware will provide them with places
and with board. The colored people are clamorous for instruction. The soil is virgin. Shall we sow the seed?

Since writing the above, we have received from our Delaware friends, official notice of their final adoption of the
Constitution, with a full report of the public meeting referred to by Mr. Kimber, which we give in another column. The
letter received from Mr. Furey. which we publish in another part of our journal, exhibits the energy of this infant
association, what it has done, and what help it needs. We urge our friends to read this appeal, and not to suffer it to
remain without an answer. Already, partly on faith, the New-York Branch has commissioned a hundred and nineteen
teachers, four times as many as were under appointment a year ago. But we only lack the funds to render gladly the
additional help which our courageous and valued friends in Delaware need so much. They have heard the voice of
God saying to them in his Providence, " Go forward." They have obeyed, believing Northern patriotism and
beneficence will sustain them. Shall they be disappointed?

PUBLIC MEETING OF THE DELAWARE ASSOCIATION. (American Freedman, Vol II, Number 5 -  August ,1867)
A Meeting of the Delaware Association for the moral improvement and education of the colored people was held in
the Lecture Room of the Wilmington Institute, on the evening of September 5th, 1867, in accordance with the
published notice.

The President, Mr. Kimber, stated that the purpose in view, in thus calling together formally the members of the
Delaware Association, is, in the first place, briefly to lay before you the results of the labors of the managers of the
past few months, together with a plain statement of the difficulties we have encountered in the work, and of our
present position and prospects in regard to future operations.

We also desire, in view of those difficulties, and of the vast field of duty that lies open before us, to confer with the
members of the Association on the important question of a closer affiliation and union with kindred societies in other
States, and more especially with that great Central Agent, the American Freedman's Commission, which has
established its branches in almost every State but ours, and has extended its friendly and powerful aid and influence
even amongst us. In fact, without the timely ex tension of that assistance, we should have had a far less satisfactory
report to make to you this evening.

Four of the most important of our schools have been maintained almost entirely by the New-York Branch of that
Commission, and the indirect benefit of their support and sympathy has been felt in all our operations.

We commenced our effort, as you are aware, to establish schools for the colored people in Delaware, about the first
of the present year. There was little to encourage us in the tone of feeling throughout the State, even among many
worthy and good people, on this subject. It seemed as though there was an ear to hear and a heart to respond to
every other appeal than this. Men and women who recognized every other claim of humanity, and were prompt to
discharge every other duty to their fellowmen, seemed to fail utterly here to acknowledge any claim, or to perceive
any obligation of duty whatsoever.

Yet we found some who thought and felt as we did, that a very plain obligation existed in this direction, and that a
very solemn accountability attended its fulfilment or the failure to discharge it.

With aid that these gave us, and with such assistance as we could obtain elsewhere, we have endeavored to carry
out the work entrusted to us. We have established fourteen schools over the State, and have one or two more in
supervisory care; with a view to their being assumed by our Association on the opening of the winter term,

Two of these schools are in Wilmington, one at New-Castle, one at Dover, one at Milford, others at Smyrna, Odessa,
Seaford, Milton, Georgetown, Laurel, Newark, Christiana, and Delaware City.

In addition to these elementary schools, (all of which are supplied with the best modern books and methods of
teaching adapted to the grade of the pupils attending them,) the Board of Managers have accepted the liberal
proposition of the African School Society of Wilmington to place in charge of the Delaware Association all their
property on Orange street, and the use of the income of their funds, for the purpose of establishing a Normal School
for colored teachers in this city, who shall go forth, when thus trained, to educate and elevate their race not only in
Delaware but also throughout the entire Southern States.

Such is the field of usefulness opening before us at this time—and now we find ourselves arrested at the outset of
the season by the entire want of funds to carry on the work.

After a full discussion of the subject of affiliation with the American Freedman's Union Commission, the following
resolution was moved by Samuel Hilles, and unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That the Board of Managers be and they are hereby authorized to adopt the Constitution of the American
Freedman's Union Commission, and to establish with that Association relations similar to those now existing between
it and the Baltimore Association.

In reference to the action of the African School Society of Wilmington, Samuel M. Harrington moved the following,
which was unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That this Association has learned with pleasure of the liberal action of the African School Society of this
city in placing its buildings and funds at the disposal of the Executive Committee for the purpose of establishing a
normal school for colored teachers; and that we hereby tender our grateful acknowledgments to that Society, and
also to the Freedman's Bureau, for the assistance that has enabled us to repair and improve the Normal
Schoolhouse. We also cordially endorse the action of the Executive Committee in accepting these opportunities, and
in their efforts to inaugurate a movement so important and useful.

Resolved, That this resolution be published in the papers, and that copies of it be furnished to the Secretary of the
African School Society, and to Major-Gen. Gregory of the Freedman's Bureau.

The necessity of raising funds at home for the maintenance of what has been already accomplished, as well as for
the extension of the operations of the Association, claimed the earnest consideration of the meeting. The :
importance of direct personal appeal to those who, with the Association, feel the necessity of rescuing as far as
possible a large portion of our population from ignorance and its attendant vice, was strongly felt; and the fact that
the small amount of sixteen dollars would pay the salary of a teacher and educate from thirty to sixty children for a
month, was regarded as a consideration which ought justly to appeal to the hearts of those whom Providence has
blessed with the good things of this life. It is quite common in other States for an individual to undertake the support
of a school, under tie care of an Association, by paying the teacher's salary. This gives a direct personal interest in
the school, copies of the monthly report of which are forwarded to its patron.

On motion of S. M. Harrington the following was unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That every member of this Association be earnestly requested to appeal to his acquaintances for aid in
carrying on the work of educating the colored people; and we especially ask benevolent and religious organizations
to agree to pay the compensation of one or more teachers employed by this Association.

On motion, S. M. Harrington, Rev. Mr. Cunningham, and Lea Pusey were appointed a committee to present the
above resolution to the various religious organizations of the city for the purpose of including this object in their
general missionary work.

The Freedmen's Record, September, 1867.


Delaware Association Fob The Moral Improvement And Education or The Colored People.

Wilmington, Sept. 24,1867. Ret. Crammond Kennedy:

Dear Sir: I am directed by the Executive Committee of this Association to write to you, and state that we have
appointed five (5) additional teachers for as many places in Delaware, whom we hereby offer to the American
Freedman's Union Commission, to fill up the number which we are led to hope you will adopt and furnish the means
for sustaining, as in the case of those already sent or promised. We are earnestly desirous to reopen all our schools
at once, and to add two to the present number, making- in all twenty, (20,) in the following named places, namely,
Wilmington, 4; Dover, 1; Seaford, 1; Smyrna, 1; Christiana, 1 ; Odessa, 1; Mil ford, 1; Laurel, 1; Georgetown, 1; New-
Castle, 1; Milton, 1; Newark, 1; Delaware • City, 1; Newport, 1; Camden, 1; Williamsville, 1; Lewes, 1—20.

Of these, ten (10) are in Newcastle county, five (5) in Kent county, and five (5) in Sussex county. The names of the
teachers proposed are, Godfrey Dupuy, (white,) for Lewes; Mary T. Douglass, (colored,) for Christiana; Elizabeth M.
Hughes, (colored,) for Odessa; Celestine D. Wilson, (colored,) for Laurel; and Sarah A. Usher, (colored,) for
Seaford. These teachers are all to commence on October 1st. We send them forth, trusting to Providence and our
friends for the means to support them, yet strongly hoping that your Commission will, in its generosity, adopt them,
leaving us then only eight (8) to provide for from our own funds, which are at present low, and in prospect not very

We understood from Mr. McKim, some time &go, that there was a disposition among the members and officers of
your Society "to take little Delaware under your wing," and thus see to it that the "Blue Hen's" dark colored "
Chickens" were duly provided for as to their mental nurture and training.

If you can and will do as herein desired, we promise on our part to see that they are properly fed and cared for, and
will give you the credit and thanks for the means provided by you to this end.

Hoping, sir, that I have quoted the words and sentiments of our good friend Mr. McKim correctly herein, and that
your Society will make them good, I am, sir, very truly and respectfully yours,

John G. Furet,
Sustained by What Society
When Organized
African American
Delaware Association
January, 1867
Delaware Association
April, 1867
N. Y. Am. Freedmen Union Commission
Oct, 1867
N. Y. Am. Freedmen Union Commission
Oct, 1867
African American
N. Y. Am. Freedmen Union Commission
February 1867
Delaware Association
April 1867
African American
Delaware Association
April 1867
African American
Delaware Association
April 1867
African American
N. Y. Am. Freedmen Union Commission
April 1867
African American
Delaware Association
May 1867
African American
Delaware Association
May 1867
New Castle
N. Y. Am. Freedmen Union Commission
May 1867
African American
Delaware Association
May 1867
African American
Delaware Association
June 1867
Delaware City
African American
Delaware Association
June 1867
African American
Delaware Association
October 1867
African American
N. Y. Am. Freedmen Union Commission
October 1867
African American
Delaware Association
October 1867
African American
Delaware Association
January 1868
Port Penn
African American
Delaware Association
January 1868
Wilmington Night
1 white and 1 African American
Delaware Association
Nov. 1867
See also Delaware Association becomes part of the American
Freedmen's Union
Custom Search
Like us on