Return to Why St. Augustine Got its first African-American
School
Return to Assorted Freedmen Bureau School Documents
Charles H. Foster Report to O. O. Howard
Report of Florida Education
June 30, 1868
Office Supt of Education B.R.F and A. L.
Jacksonville Fla June 30, 1868

Maj. Gen O. O. Howard
Commissioner Bu R F and A. L.
Washington D.C.

General,

I have the honor to submit through the office of the Asst Commissioner, the following report
pertaining to Freedmen's Schools in the State of
Florida.

Upon entering upon the duties of the office of Supt of Education the last of March, I found the
Schools for Freedmen, generally, in a flourishing condition, considering the unfavorable
circumstances by which these people were surrounded, being confused by political excitements,
many of them having failed to make contracts for the year a large portion of them in extreme
poverty, and in some instances starvation staring them in the face.

Since that period however with the prospect of good crops and of a reconstruction of State affairs a
change for the better has been brought about,;and now that the political excitements are mainly
over, the Freedpeople are paying more attention to education; having in many instances formed
school societies and manifested a willingness to contribute voluntary labor in the erection of School
Houses where the Bureau furnishes the material.

Since my appointment as Superintendent, schools have been in operation in this State as follows:

                            Schools Reported by Sub Asp Commissirs

Day and Night Schools        # of Pupils             Sabbath Schools                         Pupils
28                                          1764                               23                                1446

Estimated number of Schools upon Plantations as reported to this office

25                                             800                               10                                    300
         TOTALS                    2565                               33                                   1746

With the exception of the Sabbath Schools nearly all these have been or are about to be
discontinued as is customary at this season where the children are called to assist in gathering the
crops of cotton to be resumed again upon the 1st of October.

Teachers from the north who have been laboring among the Freedmen have nearly all returned to
their homes with the hope that the Northern associations which have been supporting them will send
them to this field of labor again in the Fall. It is to be hoped that the friends of Freedmen in the North
will not withdraw their support from these associations, but that they will send more Teachers to this
State the aumtumn than ever before.

There is an earnest call from nearly every part of the State for a supply of good competent
Teachers. It is to be regreted that we have not a larger number of efficient colored Teachers -- a
few of this class are laboring faithfully and are especially useful, but the larger portion are but poorly
fitted for their work, and many of them are utterly incompetent. We need at least from thrity to forty
efficient teachers from the north. (The Southern Whites will not teach the Freedmen) either white or
black to come down and help us next Fall; by the 1st of October we hope to have several additional
new School Houses and expect to be in readiness to furnish better accommodations for Teachers
as well as scholars than heretofore.

The poverty of the Freedpeople is such that for another year at least they will need the assistance
of charitable associations in the north in order to proceed with their schools with any degree of
success. They receive  but little help or sympathy from their former masters although the public
sentiment is here unfriendly towards the colored schools than six months ago.

Seven School Houses have been repaired or partially constructed by the Bureau during the past six
months, two have been entirely constructed, and five are at present in process of construction.  
Arrangements are being made to furnish materials for the erection of fifteen other School Houses,
while in addition to all these, Reports from Sub Asst. Commissioners and agents represent that at
least fifty other places in the State stand in need of buildings in which to hold their Schools.

Many of these places are difficult of access being quite remote from Rail Roads and from a market
where the necessary building materials can be obtained consequently the work of constructing
school Houses goes on slowly. In most of the smaller places voluntary labor in the erection of the
buildings is promised in cases where the Bureau will furnish the materials, but in larger towns, very
little voluntary aid can be obtained.

The School Fund for the Fiscal year just closed has been nearly exhausted, and Fifty Thousand
dollars are now needed for consturction and repairs of School Buildings in order to meet the wants
of Freedpeople in this State. It is hoped that the Commissioner will authorize the unexpended
remainder of the School Fund for the Fiscal year ending July 1867 $18,000 to be made available for
this State at an early day.

The State of
Florida contemplates establishing common Schools free to all as soon as practicable;
but at present there is no money in the Treasury; not much revenue can be expected from the
Schools Lands for a long time, and several years must elapse before the State can bring her school
system into successful operation. In the meantime the U. S. Government with the aid of Northern
charity, should continue to look out for the educational interests of the struggling Freedpeople of
the South and by the establishment of normal schools where Teachers of their own color can be
prepared for this immense work, enable the Colored People eventually to become the educators of
their own race.

I have the honor to be General
Very Respectfully
Your Obdt. Servt.
Charles H. Foster
Supt of Education
B. R. F. and A. L.
Florida
General O. O. Howard
Charles H. Foster
Superintendent of Education
Bureau of Freedmen - Florida
Custom Search
Like us on
Facebook