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Christian Reconstruction

The American Missionary Association and Southern Blacks, 1861-1890

Joe M. Richardson

Publication Year: 2009

"Joe Richardson's Christian Reconstruction is a solid addition to historical scholarship on the work of Yankee missionaries among the freedmen during the Civil War and Reconstruction. . . . Without question, this is the most comprehensive history of the American Missionary Association (AMA), and no one has uncovered as much detailed information on any other Northern aid society. Rich in detail and strongly recommended, the book argues that the AMA struggled to prepare the liberated slaves for civil and political equality by freeing them of the shackles of ignorance, superstition and sin.This book ought to be read by all those interested in Northern educational and social reformers in the Reconstruction South."
--The Journal of American History

"In an extraordinarily balanced study Richardson has synthesized a wealth of sources and research to produce a thoroughly convincing interpretation of the AMA and southern blacks. Besides exploring relations between the two, his main objective has been to assess the AMA's effectiveness in bringing blacks into the American mainstream. Because of his successful labors, we now have a much-needed comprehensive study of that most influential missionary organization. Whether addressing conflicts between the AMA and the US military over the treatment of contrabands, charges of racism among black and white missionaries, or the quality of association colleges, Richardson does not allow his obvious admiration for the AMA to interfere. . . . With bold logic and considerable subtlety Richardson has made an impressive contribution.
--The Journal of Southern History

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-7

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pp. vii-ix

ON 3 September 1846 the Union Missionary Society, the Committee for West Indian Missions, and the Western Evangelical Missionary Society united to form the American Missionary Association as a protest against the silence of other missionary agencies regarding slavery.1 The association leadership was staunchly antislavery. Prominent lead ...

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1. A Grand Field for Missionary Labor

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pp. 1-14

THE ROAR of Confederate cannons shelling Fort Sumter had hardly faded when the American Missionary Association exmissionary labor" the world had ever known. By June of 1861 the association proposed to do its part in the "circulation of spelling books" among escaping slaves, and in September of that year it sent its first missionary to Virginia.1 Shortly after the commencement of hostilities ...

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2. Wartime Expansion

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pp. 15-34

ALTHOUGH the AMA focused its initial efforts upon contrabands in Virginia, it was intimately involved in the Port Royal Rehearsal for Reconstruction. In January 1862 association officers Lewis Tappan and George Whipple dispatched the Reverend Mansfield French to Port Royal, South Carolina, to investigate the condition of blacks there. French, a Methodist evangelist, abolitionist, educator, ...

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3. AMA Common Schools After the War

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pp. 35-54

THE AMA rapidly expanded its educational work after the war. In mid-1865 it had 250 teachers and missionaries in the field. The number increased to 353 in 1866, to 451 in 1867, and to 532 in 1868. In June 1867 the association was teaching 38,719 students in day and night classes and 18,010 in Sabbath schools. It had teachers in every southern and border state, but it concentrated its efforts on ...

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4. Freedmen's Relief

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pp. 55-68

Tens of thousands of slaves fled to the blue-coated Union soldiers seeking freedom and found death instead. Huddled together in contraband camps or in makeshift shelters, many died from disease, exposure, and malnutrition. The misery was so great that instruction often became secondary to teachers who were preoccupied with pro ...

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5. Friends and Allies

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pp. 69-84

THE CIVIL WAR spawned dozens of freedmen's aid societies with which the AMA alternately cooperated and feuded. For the diverse societies worked together for the relief and education of found the National Freedmen's Relief Association in New York, which coordinated its activities in Port Royal, South Carolina, with the Boston Educational Commission. The latter agency's clothing and sup ...

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6. Administration and Fund Collecting

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pp. 85-106

THE EFFECTIVENESS of the AMA's southern work depended largely on the efficiency of its central administration, and implemented policy. The association's initial constitution provided for a president, five to seven vice-presidents, a corresponding secretary (two after 1853), a treasurer, and an executive committee of twelve with the corresponding secretaries and treasurer as ...

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7. Public Schools and Teacher Training

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pp. 107-120

ALTHOUGH the AMA aggressively founded common schools in the South, its leaders had always believed that education training was painfully obvious by the end of the war. Even with Bureau support, northern societies could not reach all needy youth. graded and secondary schools. Such institutions required more teachers and greater expenditures. The association hoped public funds ...

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8. The AMA Colleges

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pp. 121-140

ATLANTA UNIVERSITY? Atlanta University?" Ralph Waldo Emerson responded querulously when Thomas N. Chase handed him an Atlanta catalog. "There is no institution in this country that comes anywhere near being a university except Harvard and that does not really deserve the title."If Emerson's view is accepted, black institutions of higher education did not exist during Re ...

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9. The AMA and the Black Church

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pp. 141-160

ALTHOUGH intimately involved in black education, the American Missionary Association was equally concerned called" upon the AMA to furnish former slaves "with the Gospel of impartial love and with such instruction, as could enable them to read the precepts and understand its provisions of salvation." The association was determined not only to sunder the bonds of slavery but to free ...

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10. Yankee Schoolteachers

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pp. 161-186

THE NORTHERNERS who came South to teach the freedmen have been variously viewed as courageous heroes or med taught blacks for ulterior motives. 1 According to southern reports, legions of "slab-sided old maids" assisted by an occasional "Dr. Malgamation" flocked to the South to teach former slaves "to lie and steal." A Louisianian branded them as "miserable wretches, imported ...

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11. Black Teachers and Missionaries

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pp. 187-210

MYSELF am a Colored woman, bound to that ignorant, degraded, long enslaved race, by ties of love and consanguinity: Stanley's stated reason for joining the AMA as a freedmen's teacher. blacks who rushed to aid their recently freed fellows. It has too frequently been assumed that the crusade to educate former slaves was a white movement. Blacks were intimately involved in freedmen's edu ...

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12. The AMA and the White Community

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pp. 211-234

CONFLICT between northern teachers and southern whites was inevitable in the postwar South. Hatred, fueled by years of sec Mobile reflected the views of many southerners. In late 1865 she accompanied her brother to consult a New York physician, and while there "freely expressed her abhorence of the principles and people of the North. Nothing but the desire to save my brothers' life," she confided to ...

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13. The AMA and the Black Community

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pp. 235-256

FREEDMEN were contributing partners in the AMA's southern work from the beginning. When the Reverend W. T. Richardson went to Savannah in early 1865 to determine the feasibility of starting schools, he discovered that freedmen had formed the Savannah Educational Association, had collected $730, and had employed several local teachers. After...

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pp. 257-262

THE AMERICAN MISSIONARY ASSOCIATION obviously was imperfect. It was too paternalistic, too enamored with northern white middle-class culture, and, at first, too naive about the strength of racial prejudice. It only belatedly recognized that entrenched southern tradition and national racial discrimination allowed even educated blacks few of the opportunities...


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pp. 263-322


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pp. 323-363


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pp. 364-348

E-ISBN-13: 9780817382469
E-ISBN-10: 0817382461
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817355388
Print-ISBN-10: 0817355383

Page Count: 358
Illustrations: 38
Publication Year: 2009