|Editor's note: This document is from the Freedmen's Bureau's (Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and
Abandoned Lands or R. F. and A. L.) records for the State of Florida found in the National Archives.
It was from General Giles of the Freedmen's Bureau. The document is handwritten with some archaic
spellings especially of any double s. Col. Eliphalet Whittlesey was the first Assistant Commissioner of
North Carolina for the Freedmen's Bureau before later moving to Washington headquarters.
Whittlesey was an Acting Assistant Adjutant General at the War Department under the new Secretary
of War General John Scofield.
Bureau R. F and A L.
Office Supt of Education
Jacksonville July 2, 1869
Bvt. Brig Genrl E Whittlesey
AAAG Bu R. F. and A. L.
Washington, D. C.
The receipt of your communication of the 24th inst. calling for a report of the Educational work of the
Bureau for the year ending June 30, 1869. I have the honor to acknowledge, but as I have not been a
year on duty at this Post and the records of the office work performed previous to my arrival being
very incomplete. I necessairily confined my report to the eight months that have elapsed since the date
Nov. 1, 1868 on which I assumed charge of the Bureau affairs of this state.
On entering upon the duty assigned me I found seven schools in operation of which three were taught
in buildings for which rent was paid and four in buildings furnished free of rent usually churches owned
by Colored sociieties. These buildings were not at all adapted to the use they had been built. The
teachers employed were doing their best to make their schools successful but these accommodations
were so inferior that their efforts were not over successful.
Several subscription schools taught by colored teachers were struggling along but failing to receive the
necessary pecuniary support soon closed.
The freedmen for some reason seemed discouraged and apathetic upon the subject of education or
had lost confidence in the ability or will of the Bureau to assist them. Even northern men who should
know the value of free schools to a community evinced but little interest in the work. An appropriation
for school purposes made by the State Legislature was laying in the Treasury. The state body that
made the appropriation having failed to designate the way in which it should be disbursed.
From the foregoing outline you may judge of the the condition of the educational department of the
Bureau on the date of my arrival and of the labor necessary to be performed in that direction to make
it of mutual benefit to the Gov't and the Freedmen.
To gain the confidence and moral cooperation of the friends of the course by practical proofs of the
good intentions of the Gov't and at the same time supply the pre-requisite of good schools I at once
commenced the construction of school houses upon lands which had been donated and purchased for
the purpose deeds of which I found on file at this office. Five have been pushed forward to completion
with commendible energy by those having the work in charge. Kings Ferry a small but energetic town
on the St. Marys River received the first attention and on the first day of January 1869 the new house
was opened under the most flattering promise of success which have since been all performed while
this house was in t course of construction arrangements were being perfected for the erection of a
Normal School House in Jacksonville ground was finally broken about the middle of December '68
and on the 7th day of April 1869 a building containing six class rooms one Lecture room with library
and janitors rooms was completed and ready for occupancy having but three teachers to assign to
duty there I applied to Mr. Chase State Supt, who presented the matter to the County Board of
Education and they in conjunction with the Trustees of the school property at once agreed to furnish
funds for the payment of three additional ones, and on the 12th the schools were transferred from the
wretched buildings where they had been languishing for three years to a structure complete in all its
appointments and convenciences.
For the purpose of calling the attention of the people of the State to the work that was going on in their
midst, this building was dedicated with ceremony all the prominent men of the state colored and white
were invited to be present nearly all responded, many of them travelling a long distance at considerable
expense to participate in the exercises of the day. a full report of the dedicational ceremonies clipped
from the Florida Union is appended.
A short time since these scenes were re enacted in Tallahassee even to the employment of additional
teachers by the County Board, who advanced private funds in payment of their services.
The House at Quincy is now ready for occupancy and not withstanding the lateness of the season
teachers have been employed and the trustees say "We are bound to have a school all summer."
While the work was going on schools already organized received our attention and encouragement
frequent inspections increased their efficiency in calling to them the attention of all classes stimulating
thereby the ambition of teachers and pupils to greater exertion.
The western coast has been explored if I may be allowed to use that word from Escambia County to
Key West to ascertain the educational requirements of that hitherto entirely neglected section of the
state and not less than thirty localities were discovered where schools ought to be established. This
inspection brought to light a fact which should not be forgotten that the white inhabitants occupying the
coast from Cedar Keys nearly down to Key West were firm in their loyality to the Gov't during the
rebellion and furnished two regiments of Cavalry to one service and they are without schools and too
poor to support them, but they are as anxious as a people can be to have them established in their
This work on the part of the Bureau evidently put the State machinery in motion, and caused the
Legislature to pass a very good school law almost unanimiously. The democratic members even not
having been forced into open hostility to free schools soon after the surrender when it was treason to
the "Lost Cause" to interferer anything of Yankee growth- voted with the Republicans thereby
divesting this work of any political significance.
Several southern men have been appointed on County Boards of Education, and are enthuiastic in the
discharge of the duties devoting upon them. The prevailing sentiment is in favor of Educating the negro,
there is no open opposition on the part of any class, while many of the leading southern men are
avowed friends of the cause. In several instances the wives of southern men now monthly have entered
negro schools and assisted northern teachers.
Much may be expected from this good feeling and if the one great necessity "Good Teachers" can be
supplied for the season of 69 and '70 Florida shall not be far behind in her educational work.
Two thousand volumes of school books have been procured from the Peabody Fund and distributed
to scholars whose parents were too poor to purchase.
In addition to the work completed arrangements have been made for construction of school houses to
be furnished on or before Oct 1, 1869 as follows
Newnausville - one - partial
Mananua - one
Manderin - one
Magnolia - one
St. Augustine - one
Enclosed please find statistical report marked "B" on the 30th of June all schools in the state closed out
two exceptions Tallehassee and Quincy.
Florida Report of Charles H. Foster to O O Howard 1868
The Stanton Normal School
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