Edward L Pierce to Rev. Jacob Manning From Port Royal South Carolina January 19, 1862
Port Royal January 19, 1862
Rev. Jacob Manning
My Dear Sir
You will remember that in our interview of Sunday morning the 5th inst. I suggested that I might desire to avail myself of your kind offices in furthering the enterprise which for a brief period has called me here. What then upon general principles and a brief experience at Hampton VA seemed pros able appears now from some observation competent to judge to be most desirable and I am most happily to apply to one like yourself who responded with so much enthusiasm to the first suggestion.
There are now according to the best estimates we can obtain some 8 thousand Negroes upon the territory occupied by the forces of the US (unknown) thus Negros. There has been no census and the number may be more or less. There are about six hundred of whom are women and children. There are some five hundred at the camp at Beaufort and others in greater or less numbers at other camps. The larger part are still scattered on the plantations where they are met by the agents of the government in procuring the cotton. Rev. [Dr. Solomon]Mr. Peck of Roxburg Mass is a missionary among them at Beaufort and according to report is doing good service. Excepting here there is no clergyman whose specialty it is to promote the intellectual and moral culture of these people. Some of the army chaplains have rendered anxiety for their welfare. But their first duty is to their own regiments and whatever aid may be derived for them must be exceptional and irregular and at best they could not be long enough with them to enter into their peculiar feelings and become master of the best modes of addressing them. Some benevolent persons serving here in other capacities propose to open a school for teaching the younger Negroes which will commence as soon as a proper building is completed. But this cannot dispense with the advantage of persons especially adapted and devoted to the work with this (unknown) statement every Christian, patriotic heart must leap at once to the conclusion and see intellectual what is (unknown) needed.
There are 2 ways at least on about these people can be reached. Their love of their children common to all races and the religious element of their nature holding a large place in a race so emotional must be addressed and at once. If we administer to their spiritual want and teach their children they will see that we have come to them as the white man has not come to them before. Practical duties should be enjoined in the simplest phrases. They must be taught that in the new condition on which they are entering they must be industrious orderly faithful to their domestic relations and yield willingly to the military district which for the time is (unknown) showing all the while that they are fit to be free. A missionary who should go among them ought also be employed in distributing clothing and other things necessary for their comfort.
For this service you will see that there are needed not merely pietists or religious exhorters but persons of an excellent sense and humanity and the more talent and enthusiasm the better, if regulated by a good understanding and a knowledge of human nature the work refuses a patient humanity not to be disgusted or discouraged by ignorance degradation, personal uncleanliness or slowness of apprehension and that these people are by order of a special providence committed to our charge with bodies to be cared for and souls to be saved. From (unknown) labors even genes and (unknown) ought not to shrink a young man fitted hereafter to fill the most conspicuous places in the church, anxious to serve his country in this greatest of her struggles and yet by his profession excluded from learning (unknown) with profit to himself strengthen and might develop his nature in this noble service and after it was performed go back to the study of the failures with a clearer and more inspired sense of Christian doctrine. He would approach nearer to the Lord in ministering to these lowest poor children then he went a pilgrim to St. Peters.
Another important suggestions must not be omitted. The compensation and support of such persons should be derived exclusively from private purses. Compensation from the government is often to detract from one's deficiency and inspiring and no times like this the example of private funds contributing to the government instead of drawing from it a salaries or commissions both be beneficent Can you promise one or two such persons to be by all means capably selected with reference to peculiar qualifications and procure the contributions necessary for their support? Expedition is needed as the present be critical moment in the condition of these people and besides this is the season where the climate admits of labor without determent to the health of un-acclimated persons.