|Inspector's Report of Schools for the Freedmen's Bureau, No. 22
War Department, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands
January 1, 1866
Freedmen's Bureau Records
for the opening of new schools. A general desire for education is everywhere manifested. In some
instances, as in Halifax county, very good schools were found taught and paid for by the colored
people themselves. Said a gentleman to me, "I constantly see in the streets and on the door-steps
opposite my dwelling groups of little negroes studying their spelling-books." The aggregate for the
whole State is: schools, eighty-six; teachers, one hundred and nineteen; pupils, eight thousand five
hundred and six. The increase of scholars during the four weeks previous to this summary was one
thousand four hundred and fifty-three.
We note the gratifying fact, that while there is this general increase, the attendance in the large
towns is decreasing, showing that the tide of colored population is now setting strongly toward the
rural districts where labor is called for, and where they will have their permanent settlement in life.
An industrial school on Roanoke island is in successful operation. In Raleigh and Wilmington there
are schools for poor white children, numbering in both places two hundred and fifty attendants.
SOUTH CAROLINA AND GEORGIA.
In the city of Charleston the free colored people during the existence of slavery were, under
various restrictions, permitted to have schools. The consequence was that some of that class were
quite well educated. When the late emancipation came, these schools were at mice enlarged, and
by the aid of northern benevolence, became very soon unusually interesting. Opposition of the
citizens was rather to the occupying of their public school-houses by the negroes than to their
education itself. The whites had seen in former years that free negroes were elevated in character
by having learning; and it may be well to state that, of the seventy-six teachers in South Carolina at
the present time, twenty-five are natives, twenty-four being colored persons. It will undoubtedly be
true, that as prejudice wears away, white persons of the south will be willing to engage in this
well-paid and useful service. And as intelligence increases, colored teachers will also become more
numerous. The happy effect of mingling in one common and honorable employment persons from
opposite sections of the country, and also of different colors, is apparent. The accomplished head
master of the largest school in Charleston, numbering eight hundred and fifty in daily attendance, is
a colored man.
In all parts of the State schools are multiplying, the whole number being forty-eight not as large as
might be expected, but some of them are immense in attendance. Two in Charleston register over
eight hundred pupils each, and fifteen others in the State from one hundred and ten to three
hundred and seventy-two each. I visited the principal of these schools, and can say that many
hundreds of pupils bore excellent examination in reading, writing, geography, and English grammar.
Some of the schools in the interior are in their first rude stage, and many are deficient in making
their regular reports. The whole number of teachers is seventy-six, and of pupils ten thousand.
Georgia having been under the same assistant commissioner, does not differ much, in the work
done and in progress, from South Carolina. The best schools are in Augusta, Macon, and
Savannah. It would be difficult to discriminate, though in the hitter place the effort began earlier. In
a very few days after the advent of General Sherman there were five hundred children under
organized instructions in that city. This effort, in teaching and expense, was undertaken wholly by
the colored people themselves. They received from white friends only advice and encouragement.
These schools still continue, and with improvement, quite creditable to the agency by which they
are carried on. There are in the State sixty-nine schools and three thousand six hundred and three
pupils, with sixty-nine teachers, forty-three of whom are colored persons. The associations of the
north are doing well here, as in other States, but their efforts are crippled by want of buildings. In
every place a crowd of pupils can find no adequate accommodation. It is also true that schools are
prevented from going into the interior through fear of violence to unprotected teachers. A military
police is everywhere needed.
At Athens, in this State, the Union commission has a school of refugee white children with
ninety-five pupils. At Chattanooga there is an advanced school of this kind recently started.
This State is not as far advanced in education as some others; most of it being more sparsely
populated, and the organization more recent. Notwithstanding, there are good schools in ten of the
larger towns, with the same general results as above.
In Tallahassee I found five schools gathered and taught by the colored preachers of the place. Also
a school of interesting girls instructed by a mulatto woman of education, and who said, "I intend to
make ladies of these girls." They will undoubtedly become teachers. At Fernandina an orphan
school of forty (40) little parentless children occupies the mansion formerly owned by General
Finnigan. It is a lovely specimen of genuine philanthropy, and the lady principal deserves great
credit for her self-denying labors.
The total in Florida is thirty schools, nineteen (19) teachers, and nineteen hundred (1,900) pupils.
1. St. Augustine and Fernandina had schools since late 1862. However one of the major problems
was the sparce population of the state.
2. The Orphan assylum - Chloe Merreck a teacher at Fernandina established the orphan assylum
in the home of General Finnigan (CSA) that she purchased at a tax sale. When General Finnigan
was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson the house reverted back to him and the orphanage
was moved to Magnolia Springs..