Port Royal Relief Committee
Early History
February 1865

Pennsylvania Freedmen
HISTORY OF THE ASSOCIATION.
Three years ago, Commodore—now Rear Admiral —Dupont, gave to the country the first naval victory of the war, and
to Humanity the first instalment of Freedom. In a single day, 10,000 " chattels," in the Sea Islands of South Carolina,
were converted into* 10,000 men. Abandoned by their sagacious master?, these simple people came down to the
water's edge, "with their bundles in their hands" and their beuisons on their lips, to greet our soldiers and seamen as
their deliverers. It was a touching sight. Commodore Dupont and General Sherman, moved by the picture presented of
destitution and suffering, and touched by these simple people's implicit, trust, sent appeals to the North for means of
relieving them. These appeals were responded to at Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. A public meeting was held in
Philadelphia on the 5th of March, 1862, Bishop Potter presiding, at which resolutions were adopted declaring that relief
should be sent to these suffering people, and appointing a committee to carry this purpose into effect. This committee,
assuming the title of the

PORT ROYAL RELIEF COMMITTEE,
proceeded to perform the duties assigned them. They raised money, and purchased and forwarded food and clothing
sufficient to meet the immediate demands of the people. This done, and there being no further pressing need of
physical assistance, they turned their attention to the necessity of industrial organization, and the means needed for
the people's moral and intellectual improvement. They selected and sent into the field superintendents of labor and well
qualified school teachers. As the people, under these influences, advanced in improvement, and began to earn wages
sufficient, and more than sufficient, for their maintenance, the Committee established a store among them, to protect
them, by the fair rates at which commodities were to be sold, from the extortions of army sutlers and other traders. This
store was supported by a capital set apart for the purpose, and conducted by a gentleman well qualified for the duty.

The success of each and all these measures was complete. The food and clothing kept the more destitute from
perishing, while, by awakening in the breasts of all a lively sense of gratitude, it made subsequent effort in their behalf
more effective. The superintendents gave direction to the people's industry, forming among them habits of self-reliance,
and making their labor remunerative to themselves and of inestimable value to the country. The teachers gathered the
children and unemployed adults into schools, instructing them in the rudiments of elementary learning, and inculcating
upon them lessons of morality, religion, and social order.

In these measures the Philadelphia Committee acted in concert with similar associations in Boston and New York. The
enterprise thus conducted by these three bodies in Port Royal, has been in all respects an absolute success. The freed
blacks there, now increased by additions to 20,000 in number, are a self-supporting, wealth-producing people. They
are orderly in their behaviour, and are rapidly rising in the scale of intelligence. The able-bodied are serving their
country as soldiers, while the less robust are making themselves equally useful in cultivating the fields. Some of the
younger ones, who, less than three years ago came into the schools in a condition of absolute ignorance, are now
competent to take the part of assistant teachers.

FREEDMEN'S RELIEF ASSOCIATION. (second history from a later issue of
Pennsylvania Freedmen - March 1, 1864)
This Association has been in existence, though originally under a somewliat different name and with a more
circumscribed field of action, for the space of two years. It had its origin in a public meeting held in this city, in National
Hall, on the 6th of March, 1862. That meeting was called in response to appeals made to the people of the North by
Commodore Dupont, General Sherman, and others, in behalf of the 10,000 liberated blacks of South Carolina. The
destitution of these people, moral and physical, was strongly set forth by eminent speakers and a committee appointed
to devise and execute measures for their relief Assuming the name of the " Port Eoyal Relief Committee," the gentlemen
thus appointed proceeded to perform the duties assigned them. They raised money, and purchased and forwarded
food and clothing sufficient to meet the immediate. demands of the people.

This done, and there being no further pressing need of physical assistance, they next turned their attention to the
necessity of industrial organization, and the means needed for the people's moral and intellectual improvement. They
therefore selected and sent into the field superintendents of labor and well qualified school teachers. As the people,
under these influences, advanced in improvement, and began to earn wages sufficient and more than sufficient for their
maintenance, the Committee established a store among them, to protect them, by the. fair rates at which commodities
were to be sold, from the extortions of army sutlers and other traders. This store was, as it is still, supported by a capital
set apart for the purpose, and conducted by a gentleman well qualified for the duty. The success of each and all of
these measures has been complete. The food and clothing kept the more destitute from perishing, while, by awakening
in the breasts of all a lively sense of gratitude, it made subsequent effort in their behalf more effective. The
superintendents gave direction to the people's industry, forming among them habits of self-reliance, and making their
labor remunerative to themselves and of inestimable value to the country.

The teachers gathered the children and unemployed adults into schools, instructing them in the rudiments of
elementary learning, and inculcating upon them lessons of morality, religion, and social order. In these measures the
Philadelphia Committee acted in concert with similar associations in Boston and New York. The enterprise thus
conducted by these three bodies has been in all respects an absolute success. No alms are now dispensed on those
islands by this or any other association. The freed blacks there, now 15,000 ip number, are a self-supporting, wealth-
producing people. They are orderly in their behaviour, and are rapidly rising in the scale of intelligence. The able-
bodied are serving their country as soldiers, while the less robust are making themselves equally useful in cultivating
the fields. Some of the younger ones, who two years ago came into the schools in a condition of absolute ignorance,
are now competent to take the part of assistant teachers. The "Philadelphia store," located in the island of St. Helena,
has sold in the last eighteen months goods to the amount of $30,000. This sum, realized from the sales of a single
neighborhood, indicates the prosperity of the people, while, at the same time, it suggests the advantages yet to be
derived by the North from commercial intercourse with them. The savings of the store to purchasers, according to the
estimate of the gentleman in charge, have been $6000 on the sales reported^ This sum has been that much added to
the people's ability to buy land ; for it ought to be known that the blacks at Port Royal are rapidly becoming proprietors
of the soil. The Government has granted them preemption rights at prices not beyond their reach, and the more thrifty
among them are availing themselves of the opportunity thus afforded of becoming planters on their own account.

While the Committee were thus engaged on the Sea Islands, the advance of our arms was opening new fields for similar
effort in other parts of the country. In the south-west especially, where the number of liberated blacks had reached a
figure somewhere between one and two hundred thousand, the demand for aid became especially pressing. To meet
this demand, the Port Royal Relief Committee determined to enlarge their field of action. Changing their name to that of
the Pennsylvania Freedmen's Relief Association, they called a public meeting, and set forth to a crowded audience the
new and more enlarged views of the ques^ tion. At this meeting, held in Concert Hall on the 3d of November, and
presided over by Bishop Potter, strong pictures were presented of the destitution of the freed people, and earnest
appeals made in their behalf. To these appeals the audience responded, by a resolution unanimously adopted,
declaring that the people of the North owed it alike to Humanity and to the Government, to aid these enfranchised
people to the full extent of their necessities, in the trials of their transition state. They also declared, by a vote equally
unanimous, that a sum of not less than $100,000 should be raised by the people of the State to carry this resolve into
execution. At a later and still larger meeting — held in the Academy of Music on the 16th of February — Bishop
Simpson presiding, similar declarations were made, with equal unanimity, and with added emphasis.

While the Association were thus diffusins; information and calling out the sentiment of the people, they were at the
same time busy raising funds and disbursing them for the purposes for which they w^ere intended. They have collected
since the date of their meeting on the 3d of November, $36,491.08. They have purchased and sent to different parts
of the South, blankets, shoes, hospital stores, and clothing for women and children, to the amount of $18,500.
These supplies for physical wants they are preparing to followup, as in the case of Port Royal, with more enduring
benefactions. In addition to the corps of able teachers and assistants, nine in number, which they are now maintaining
in South Carolina, they are selecting and commissioning for new places of labor others equally well qualified. In order to
concentrate their efforts and guard against the evils of too wide a field, the Association have concluded to confine their
operations in the south-west to Middle Tennessee and parts adjacent, especially the northern parts of Alabama and
Georgia. They have appointed a General Superintendent, whose business it will be — making Nashville or some point
near that city his centre — to organize schools, and locate in charge of them, such teachers as may be sent out for that
purpose.

By these and such like means this Association, acting as heretofore in conjunction with other bodies of similar
character, propose to do for all the Southern States what has already been done with so much success for a portion of
South Carolina. If the negroes of the Sea Islands, the lowest in the land in point of intellectual and physical condition,
can, in a brief space of time, be raised into a self-sustaining, law-abiding and comparatively well instructed people, the
same thing at least can be done for the remaining blacks of the South, most of whom are of a much more promising
character.

The Penna. Freedmen's Belief Association have raised since their organization in March 1862, $10,000 worth of cloth-
ing and other needful articles — all of which have been distributed — and $48,459.69 in money. These supplies of
clothes, and this amount of money have been collected without any expense of commission or salary. And of the entire
sum raised, with the exception of the balance now in the treasury, and a small amount expended in means necessary to
the Association's existence, every dollar has gone direct to the object for which it was contributed.

This account of its history and operations the Association respectfully submits to the public, with an earnest request to
all loyal and humane people for their co-operation and support. Contributions to its funds should be sent to E. W. Clark,
Treasurer, 35 south 3d street ; or, if more convenient, they may be left at the rooms of the Association, to be forwarded
to that gentleman, by whom they will be gratefully received and duly acknowledged.

Stephen Colwell,
President.

Ellis Yarkall,  B. P. Hunt,
Recording Sec'y. \ Vice President.
J. M. McKiM,


"THE PHILADELPHIA STORE."
This instrumentality, having accomplished its object, has been discontinued. It was an avant courier of similar
establishments started in Port Royal and elsewhere. It was a great help to the people, enabling them to husband their
earnings and become purchasers of land; for it ought to be known that the blacks of Port Royal arc becoming
proprietors of the soil, and planters on their own account.

The Philadelphia store, and the other stores in the South which have followed it, have made revelations which have
surprised soma of our business men, and furnished a new argument for emancipation,—an argument which addresses
itself to tho pecuniary sense of the people. The amount of business which these stores have done,—their dealings
being almost wholly with the freed blacks, and that in circumscribed neighborhoods,—is reckoned by hundreds of
thousands of dollars! The question of emancipation is then reduced to a simple one in the " Rule of Three:" If a mere
fraction of freedmen be such valuable customers for our Northern products and Northern merchandise, what will
4,000,000 be? Answer: "Godliness hath the promise of the life that now is as well as that which is to come."

For a more minute account of the progress made in South Carolina, see Mr. Tomlinson's testimony in another column.

While the Committee were thus engaged on the Sea Islands, the advance of our army was opening new fields for similar
effort in other parts of the country. In the Southwest especially, where the number of freed blacks had reached a figure
somewhere between one and two hundred thousand, the demand for aid became especially pressing. To meet this
demand, the Port Royal Relief Committee determined to enlarge their field of action. Changing their name to that of the
Pennsylvania Freedmen's Relief Association, they called a public meeting, and set forth to a crowded audience the new
and more enlarged views of the question. At this meeting, held in Concert Hall on the 3d of November, and presided
over by Bishop Potter, strong pictures were presented of the destitution of the freed people, and earnest appeals made
in their behalf. To these appeals the audience responded, by a resolution unanimously adopted, declaring that the
people of the North owed it alike to Humanity and to the Government, to aid these enfranchised people to the full extent
of their necessities, in the trials of their transition state. They also declared, by a vote equally unanimous, that a sum of
not less than $100,000 should be raised by the people of the State to carry this resolve into execution. At a later and
still larger meeting, held in the Academy of Music on the 16th of February, Bishop Simpson presiding, similar
declarations were made, with equal unanimity, and with added emphasis.

Eenben Tomlinson. (Pennsylvania Freedmen Vol 1, Issue 1 Feb 1865)
This gentleman, at present, and for the last two years, one of Gen. Saxton's staff, ns Superintendent of Labor in Port
Royal, has accepted an invitation from the Penn'a. Frccdmen's Relief, to come to this city and serve tho cause here in
tho capacity of General Agent. Mr. Tomlinson's antecedents, ability and thorough acquaintance with the enterprise,
qualify him for great usefulness in the pi sition which he is to occupy. When he will conic is uncertain, as the sudden
accumulation of refugees in Port Royal, the result of Gen. Sherman's march, makes his presence at that point at
present indispensable.

REPORT OF PENNSYLVANIA BRANCH. (American Freedmen, March 31, 1866)
Pennsylvania Freedmen's Relief Association, 424 Walnut Street, Philad'a, 3d Mo. 31, 1866.) To Lyman Abbott, General
Secretary Am. Freedmen's and Union Commission:

Dear Friend: Herewith I submit a report of the work of the Pennsylvania Freednen's Relief Association for the month
ending to-day.

At the beginning of the month the Pennsylvania Freedmen's Relief Association had sixty-one superintendents and
teachers in the field. During the month one teacher has been commissioned and sent to fill a vacancy in one of our
schools in Washington. This makes sixty-two teachers now in the employ of this association.

One new school has been opened, viz., at Fincastle, Bedford County, Va. A new schoolhouse has been finished at
Liberty, Bedford County, Va., having cost with the lot about $600 to the association, the colored people having
contributed in labor.

Arrangements are in progress to open a school near Okolona, Miss., upon the plantation of I. Eppesnecker, at his
request. Failing to receive reports from Tennessee, the consolidated report accompanying is not later than for January.

Our receipts in money have been, from regular subscriptions, $1,568.14; through the auxiliaries, $514.14; from other
sources, .

Total, $2,082 28.

By request of Gen. C. H. Howard, we receive twelve to twenty freed people per week from Washington and procure
employment fur them. This arrangement having been but recently made, we have only yet made two requisitions, one of
twelve, the other for twenty persons.

All our schools and operations in the field are in a prosperous condition, with the exception of the temporary close of
our school in Petersburg, from small-pox being prevalent in the city.

The demand for clothing having nearly ceased, we have shipped but thirty boxes, valued at $4,512 62.

Respectfully submitted.

James E. Rhoads,




                                                  
Primary Documents and Other Links

Teacher List

Diary of Laura M. Towne April 17, 1862

Diary of Laura M. Towne April 18, 1862

Letter by Laura M. Towne April 21, 1862

Diary of Laura M. Towne April 24, 1862

Diary of Charlotte Forten Grimke - Commission and Journey - Fall 1862

Letter from E. S. Williams to Mr. Jocelyn St. Helenas Island - December 18, 1862

Fernandina Schools, July 1863

The Pennsylvania Freedmen's Bulletin The Pennsylvania Freedmen's Aid Association -
Eenben Tomlinson - 1864

Speech of R Tomlinson in front of the Port Royal Society - November 1864

Pennsylvania Freedmen's Bulletin - Laura M Towne - December 11, 1864

Pennsylvania Freedmen's Bulletin - School 4 - January 21, 1865

Pennsylvania Freedmen's Bulletin - History of Port Royal Relief, February 1865

Pennsylvania Freedmen's Bulletin Letter of Ellen Murray  - Feb 16, 1865

Pennsylvania Freedmen's Bulletin - Annie Heacock - July 18, 1866

Pennsylvania Freedmen's Bulletin - Instructions to Teachers  - October, 1866

American Union Questionaire - Laura Towne - 1866

Pennsylvania Freedmen's Bulletin - Laura M. Towne (1865-66 Report) - October, 1866

Pennsylvania Freedmen's Bulletin - Instructions to Teachers  - October, 1866

Officers and Committees 1866

List of All Teachers 1866-67 sponsored by Society

Pennsylvania Freedmen's Bulletin - Fundraising Letter - January 15, 1869
American Freedmen and
Union Commission
Port Royal Relief
Committee
New England Freedmen's
Aid Society
National Freedmen's Aid
Society
Freedmen's Aid Societies
Port Royal Experiment
American Missionary
Association
Freedmen's Bureau
Assorted Documents
 
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