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............................................................................................................................................................. ............................................................................................................................................................. ............................................................................................................................................................. Chapter Three It Will Result in a Better Understanding of Their Duties Southern White Teachers and the Limits of Emancipation My hands are anxious to improve their minds; in which they evince a spirit I am desirous to encourage; for I think it will result in a better understanding of their duties, as well as be a benefit to society and the country. W. H. Sharp, 1866 I live among a people greatly prejudiced against the education of Freedmen, and down on me with a double vengeance and would not loan me a mess of meal if I were starving (a few honorable exceptions). Thomas Collins, 1867 We need the money here and are as capable of teaching them as Northern men and really feel more interest in them than people at the North. Sarah A. Payne, 1871 In the spring of 1868, Josephine Stell applied to the Freedmen’s Bureau in Texas for a teaching position. To make her case, she explained, ‘‘I feel interested in the education of the freed people,—the more intelligent they become, the less trouble they will give to our country, and they will be better, happier, and more useful.’’ When her application did not immediately prevail, she wrote to the provisional governor of Texas. She was, she informed him, ‘‘a young lady’’ who had attended ‘‘a fashionable boarding school’’ and was thus ‘‘competent to teach any of the English branches, the Latin, and Music too. I am an Orphan,’’ she continued, ‘‘have It Will Result in a Better Understanding 53 no friends in the State, and but few acquaintances. In my homeless, friendless , and penniless condition, I know not to whom to apply for assistance but your self. What I ask of you Gov. is this—give me a colored school—any where that I can make a support.’’ She was recommended by a Texan who was certain that for ‘‘a lady of her position in society to volunteer to teach Freedmen School would I think, have a good e√ect.’’ Neither Stell nor her reference mentioned that she was the daughter of slaveholders. She taught for a year but was dismissed after the freed people expressed dissatisfaction with her for whipping the children.∞ John Hollis Caldwell had also held slaves. Directly after the Civil War, he, his wife, and his son taught together in a black school in LaGrange, Georgia, for a collective fourteen years. Caldwell, a southerner by birth and a Methodist minister in Newnan, Georgia, by 1860, had delivered a sermon toward the end of the Civil War in which he declared that there was a divine message to the South in the scourge of the war: ‘‘We have sinned and God has smitten us.’’ Such language, critical of slavery and of the Confederate cause, was intolerable to his congregation and others in Newnan who drove him from his church. He was reassigned to a rural circuit but chose instead to take his family to the North. In 1866, they returned to Georgia, settled in LaGrange, and began teaching with support from the northern Methodist Episcopal Freedmen’s Aid Commission. John and Elizabeth T. Caldwell taught until 1872, their son William from 1867 to 1869.≤ Austin Groner had never had the luxury of a√ording slaves. Just before the war, he was attempting to establish himself as a grocer, though the 1860 censusgavehistotalwealthas$300tosupporthimself,hiswife,Sophia,and an infant daughter. He spent a portion of the war in the 4th North Carolina Cavalry. Immediately after the war, the Mercantile Agency, which had commented in 1861 that he had little capital and was operating a small retail shop, noted simply, ‘‘Quit—broke.’’ By 1870, Groner was working for the railroad and worth $150, half what he held in 1860. To assist the family financially , Sophia Groner opened a school for the freed people in 1868. A bureau agent reported, ‘‘The freedmen of the County appear well pleased with her e√orts, and desire that she be encouraged as far as the Bureau can assist her. She is the only Southern woman of proper respect & character I havemet,whowouldtakeaschool,andfromallIcanlearnshedoesverywell for a School of young children such as she has.’’ She taught for two years.≥ those who have written about freedmen’s education strongly imply that the early black schools were taught almost exclusively by north- 54 It Will Result in a Better Understanding ern teachers.∂ Some early historians went so far as to claim that the northern schoolmarms’ domination of...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781469604930
Related ISBN
9780807834206
MARC Record
OCLC
966902865
Pages
336
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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