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FREEDMEN'S SCHOOL, CAMP TODD, VIRGINIA, 1865 Pencil sketch by Emily Howland (Original at Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College) TEACHERS' QUARTERS, CAMP TODD, VIRGINIA, 1865 Pencil sketch by Emily Howland (Original at Friends Historical Library of Stvarthmore College) The BULLETIN of Friends Historical Association Vol. 46Autumn Number, 1957No. 2 FRIENDS' ASSOCIATION OF PHILADELPHIA FOR THE AID AND ELEVATION OF THE FREEDMEN By Henrietta Stratton Jaquette* As soon as the Civil War broke out in 1861, the colored people of the South, hitherto held in slavery, began leaving their places of bondage, gathering in abandoned plantations, and flocking to the North beyond the Union lines. Able-bodied colored men were engaged to help the Northern armies, but women and children, the disabled, and the sick were thrown upon the charity of their new neighbors. "The perils and sufferings incident to such a great social revolution," wrote a group of Friends in 1864, are aggravated by the desolating warfare carried on in the midst of the scenes of their former oppression. In the unprecedented scarcity of the necessaries of life, and the miseries growing out of the barbarities of war, the negroes are suffering in common with their former masters, and with the large class of non-slaveholding whites. The armies which have alternately swept the border States, while they have opened the avenues of liberty to the uncomplaining negro, and sent him forth from the prison house with his limbs unshackled, and his heart raised in thankfulness and praise, have left him without the appliances for successful labor, or an opportunity to work availingly even for a scanty support. Most of the * Henrietta Stratton Jaquette, a member of Swarthmore Meeting, edited the Civil War letters of Cornelia Hancock under the title of South after Gettysburg (Philadelphia, 1937; 2nd edition, New York, 1956). 67 68Bulletin of Friends Historical Association able-bodied men are immediately taken from their families into the employ of the Government, while large numbers of women and children, with the aged and infirm, are congregated in temporary camps, sheltered by the abandoned tents of soldiers, or other insufficient protection from the weather; in some localities they are the victims of infectious diseases, destitute of adequate medical attendance or supplies, and in many instances without kindly sympathy and intelligent counsel which could be made available in their extremity.1 Hicksite Friends in Philadelphia had been active for many years in promoting the abolition of slavery through such organizations as the Pennsylvania Abolition Society and the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. Now, with the Negroes first freed as "contraband of war" ("what a useful word contraband is," wrote one Friend)2 and then by the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, a new work opened up to these and other Friends.3 It was the women who first answered the call. On Fourth Month 15, 1862, they organized themselves into the Women's Association of Philadelphia for the Relief of the Freedmen. Though the Union Government to some extent provided for those who sought its protection, "all accounts agreed," they reported, "that unless aid was extended from other sources in this time of extremity, thousands more would inevitably perish before they could be placed in a position, to secure by their own labor the necessaries of life."4 This group of Philadelphia women Friends, soon realizing that the extent of the need called for greater activity than they alone were capable of, speedily set about calling upon Friends in the surrounding countryside to come to their assistance. The local Monthly-Meeting response to this appeal was spontaneous, and 1 Report of the Executive Board of Friends' Association for the Aid and Elevation of the Freedmen (Philadelphia, 1864), pp. 3-4. 2 Slaves, considered to be materials of warfare since their labor was helpful to the Southern army, were declared "contraband" by the North and hence subject to be requisitioned and given their freedom by the advancing armies. 3 For an account of the work of the Orthodox Friends of Philadelphia and vicinity see Youra Quails, " 'Successors of Woolman and Benezet' : The Beginnings of the Philadelphia Friends Freedmen's Association," Bulletin of Friends Historical Association, XLV (1956), 82-104. 4 Second Annual Report...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 67-83
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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