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Mission to the Freed "Contrabands" at Fortress Monroe
American Missionary
October 1, 1861

American Missionary Association
Supplement to the American Missionary
61 John St., New York. October 1, 1861

Mission to the Freed “Contrabands” at Fortress Monroe, VA

New Field of Usefulness

The mission of the American Missionary Association was to fields not occupied by other Societies, or, where, if
occupied, it was believed the principles of the Gospel were not predominant; and Providence has, in a singularly
marked manner, opened to the Association special fields of usefulness among the African race. It devolved upon the
Association to introduce the Gospel among the Mendians, the countrymen of the Amistad captives, and others, in
Western Africa, and to sustain missionary operations among the emancipated negroes of Jamaica. The Association
has also gained access to the slave States and labored for the enslaved and free people of color, in Kentucky, North
Carolina and Missouri, as well as for the surrounding white population that had felt the contaminating influences of

At the present time a new field of missionary labor is providentially opened to the Association, in Virginia, among their
colored brethren, who are under the protection of the military forces of the country, and we doubt not that the
interesting intelligence we have to communicate to the patrons of the Association will be received with much
satisfaction, with gratitude to God, and with a desire to aid the enterprise with prayers for its success, and such
pecuniary assistance as may be necessary.

After a correspondence with General Butler, commenced by an officer of the Association on the 8th of August, with a
view to supplying the physical and general wants of the “contrabands,” a letter was brought to us from a chaplain of
one of the New York Regiments of Volunteers, dated Camp Butler, Newport News, Aug. 21st, addressed “to the Young
Men’s Christian Association of the City of New York,” urging upon them the employment of a missionary to labor among
the slaves that had been liberated in Virginia. This letter was brought to the rooms of the American Missionary
Association by an ordained minister of the Gospel, who had been employed by the Young Men’s Society, and was
strongly recommended by them. It was deemed best to employ him to visit Fortress Monroe, to make the needful
investigation, and to report to the Committee.

He visited Washington, and was favorably received by members of the Government. In the absence of the Secretary of
War, the assistant Secretary approved the object and recommended him to General Wool. This officer received him
cordially, heartily approved the plan and view, and afforded him all needful facilities. The following letters will give an
insight to the work thus undertaken.
General Benjamin Butler
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