Third Annual Meeting or The Michigan Freedmens Aid Commission—Report of the Corresponding Secretary
Election Of Officers.
(From the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune.) The third annual meeting of the Michigan Freedmens Aid Commission was held at the Young Men's Christian Association rooms, yesterday afternoon. The meeting was opened by prayer by Rev. S. M. Freeland.
A letter was read from the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the State of Louisiana, asking for colored teachers for the schools now in progress and to be opened for colored children in that State. It was stated that several could probably be obtained in this city.
Rev. S. Chase, Corresponding Secretary, then read his annual report to the Commission as follows:
The Michigan Freedmen's Aid Commission was the child of circumstances. It was organized to meet a necessity. Rebellion Land struck at the life of the nation. Slavery, grown hoary with age and insatiate with prosperity, demanded universal immunity, and would brook no control. But when the enemy came in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord lifted up a standard against him. The course of conduct intended to cement and establish its power beyond a contingency, by the overruling Providence of God, resulted in its overthrow.
With the onward march of the army of the Union, the shackles fell from the limbs of the bondmen, and the multitude of the enslaved stood up in the ecstacy of a newly found manhood. Many of them, with the improvidence of children, left their homes to follow the footsteps of the army, with scarce a thought of the morrow's wants, until weary, footsore, hungry and desolate, they lay down to rise nomore. Others found a precarious subsistence from such work as the army afforded, and others still were driven out by former masters when they could no longer claim them as their property, empty, naked and friendless, to b« sustained by the charity of the benevolent or perish by the wayside
To meet such an exigency as this the Michigan Freedmens Aid Commission was organized; to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to provide homes for the orphans, to teach the ignorant, and to assist in lifting up the bowed down. In this work it has engaged. It has been the dispenser of the free-will offerings of the kind-hearted, and the donations which have passed through the hands of its agents have gladdened many sorrowful hearts. In presenting our third annual report, we would acknowledge the goodness of God to us as a board. Our lives have been spared, and uninterrupted harmony has characterized all our deliberations. The liabilities which at the last annual meeting were hanging over us have all been canceled, while the current expenses of the year have all been met, so that there hss been no want among our dependents. Our agents have met nothing but kindness from the churches and ministry in our State. They have been welcomed with cheerfulness, and the collections have been in many instances generous. A thanksgiving appeal was largely distributed through the State and many hearty responses have been received. The sum total of these donations amounted to $561 05. We had hoped that the physical wants of the freedmen would have nearly ceased with the gathering of the last harvest, but the untoward season, with the unsettled condition of the Southern States, and their poverty, has prevented the satisfaction of their wants; while the entire community in many places are already famishing for bread. Indeed there is often more distress among the poor whites than among the freedmen. The cry of the starving comes to us from the South from day to day. They make their piteous appeals for help or they must perish.
Since the last annual meeting,the American, Freedmens Union Commission has been formed by representatives from all the Freedmens Aid Commissions in the Northern and Western States, which is now working with great efficiency and success. At the present time this commission has in its employ about 760 teachers, supported by its various branches, giving instruction to about 30,000 adults and children in day and night schools. From all these teachers comes the united testimony, the freedmen, old and young, are enthusiastic in the pursuit of knowledge, while their quietness and docility are remarkable. In fact, their progress in their studies calls forth the admiration of visitors, evincing that they possess the elements for an honorable and intelligent citizenship. The Agency work of the commission has been prosecuted by Revs. C. C. Foote and O. C. Thompson, with a fair measure of success.
The receipts of the commission for the year and since the date of the last annual report, have been $7,765 96, including a balance of $530 69 on hand at that date. The disbursements during the same time have been $6,337 71, leaving a balance on hand of $428 25. There have also been goods received and disbursed estimated at $500. This sum is insignificant when contrasted with the wide-spread necessities and suffering which exist.
At the last annual meeting the Board found themselves burdened with a large indebtedness contracted in the establishment and support of the Haviland Home. This has been canceled. The Home, at that time, contained about 50 orphans, for whom provision was to be made and also for their instruction. These have been provided for, and homes procured for more than 30 of these friendless ones. About the first of November a proposition was received from the American Missionary Association, which resulted in the transfer of the Home, with the real estate and all its assets, liabilities, and the remaining children, to that Association; thus leaving the Commission free to give its undivided attention to the general work among the freedmen. During the year three teachers have been employed in whole or in part. One at the Haviland Home, one in Kansas and one in Virginia, at Camp Distribution, near Alexandria. Funds have been forwarded to the Treasurer of the American Freedmens Union Commission for the support of one or more teachers at such place a's they shall think most advisable; the teachers to make monthly reports to the Executive Board. "Thus have we given a succinct account of our stewardship. Something has been done, but much more remains to be done. The foundation has been laid, but the superstructure is yet to be erected. It is hoped that the bodily suffering will cease at least with the next harvest, but the efforts to educate the ignorant cannot safely be discontinued until the revolted States themselves shall take up the work which properly belongs to them. Till then the friends of humanity must not weary in their well-doing. Intelligence and virtue lie at the very foundation of our political institutions. The schoolmaster and the evangelist must go hand in hand to raise these millions of black and white from ignorance and degradation to the level of a law-abiding and intelligent constituency. Here is the work for the patriot and philanthropist as well as the Christian, and with the progress of this work will come the spirit of unity and mutual regard and love, which shall make the divided nation one harmonious people.
Rev. Mr. Foote offered a resolution for the basis of a union of the Michigan Freedmons Aid Commission with the American Missionary Association, for the purpose of economy anc greater efficiency, the basis being, 1st. The agents chosen to canvass the State shall receive their commission from each society. 2d They shall remit all receipts to the Treasurer of the Michigan Freedmens Aid Commission, who shall pay all moneys received for the freedmen to the Treasurer of the American Missionary Association, unless otherwise ordered by the donors. 3d. The teachers of the Michigan Commission shall receive the care, direction and support of the Americans Missionary Association. 4th. Any church or community desirous of supporting and sending' o the freedmen a qualified teacher may do Bos under the auspices of. this union.
The subject thus introduced was discussed at some length by Mr. Foote in favor, and Revs Supply Chase, J. H. Griffith and George Dufield, D. D., in opposition.
Dr. Duffield said that this was a question of the existence or non-existence of the society. The subject was one of philanthropy and patriotism, and not one which appeals to any sectarian religious societies for its sustenance., tie read several letters from agents of the American Freedmens Commission, giving accounts of the great amount of work which has been done in various Southern States in the way of establishing schools among the freedmen. He believed this Commission should be sustained as a separate organization.- He contended that the system of schools which established by this Commission in the South, will force upon the different States a system, of free public schools for all the fre«dmen.When this object is brought about, the work which the Commission has been doing shalt have been accomplished,
The resolution of Mr. Foote was lost.
On motion, the chair appointed a committee" on nominating officers for the ensuing year, consisting of Rev. Messrs. Foote, Griffith and Webb. The committee after consultation reported the following list of officers:
President—Rev. Geo. Duffield, D. D.
Vice Presidents—Rev. S. Chase, Rev. E. O. Haven, D. D., J. J. Bagley, Esq., John Owen, Esq., H. P. Baldwin, Esq., Rev. A. Ballard, E. B. Ward, Esq., Rev. A. G. Hibbard, Hon. C. S. May.
Corresponding Secretary—Rev. S. Chase.
Recording Secretary and Treasurer—Frarvcis Raymond.
Auditor—E. C. Walker, Esq.
Executive Committee—Rev. J. H. McCarty,, Rev. J. H. Griffith. Rev. W. Hogarth, Win. Webb, Rev. O. C. Thompson, Rev. A. G. Hobbs,. Horace Hallock, S. Zugg, Geo. M. Harwood, and Geo. De Baptist.
The report was adopted and the above officers declared elected.