|Editors Note: This undated article was attached to the report of General Giles to Brig
General E. Whittlessy of the Freedmen's Bureau dated July 2, 1869. It was damaged in the
folding of the newspaper and the microfilming also left marks on the paper. The school is
still one of Jacksonville's Florida's finest, but it never made it as a college in the tradition of
Howard, Fisk, etc., but remains a public high school.
The Stanton Normal Institute
On Saturday afternoon the Stanton Normal school building erected by the Freedmen's
Bureau was dedicated for educational purposes. The site for the edifice was purchased a
year ago by the Florida Institute, a corporate body organized on the 30th of January, 1868,
for the purpose of holding school property, under the laws of the then, existing State
government, which failed to designate any person or persons for that object. The Institute
was composed of five members, as follows; Hon. C. T. Chase (Ed: C Thurston Chase,
Florida Superintendent of Public Instruction), Hon. J. R. Scott, Hon. E. M. Randall, J. Barton,
Esq., and Wm. Garvin, Esq. These gentlemen were suppled with funds by the American
Mission Society for purchasing a suitable site for a school-house, and the lot on Elizabeth
street was secured. An appropriation being made by the Government for the erection of a
school building under the auspices of the Freedmen's Bureau, it was decided, provided the
title by which the lot was held should prove good, to expend the money in erecting the
building upon the lot held by the Institute. The commencement of the work, however, was
delayed for some months and not until the present efficient Commissioner of the Bureau
was assigned to duty in this State was anything done. Gen. Giles immediately upon
assuming his duties here, secured plans for the building, and proceeded to erect the
edifice, under his own immediate supervision carrying on the work which is now so
successfully wrought to completion.
The site upon which the structure stands has been admirably chosen for the purpose. The
grounds are spacious, carefully graded, and surrounded with a good substantial fences. A
large number of trees have been planted in and around the lot, which, in a few years will
furnish abundant shade and make a delightful and cool retreat. The edifice is the largest for
school purposes in the State, and is undoubtedly one of the most perfect structures of the
kind ever erected, and to much praise cannot be given to the young and capable architect
who has so faithfully carried out his contract in this erection -- Mr. W. A. MacDuff. It is not
only an ornament, but the most imposing building in the city, attracting the attention and
admiration of all who approach the city from whatever direction. The view from the cupola up
the grand old St. Johns, on the occasion, was one of the most beautiful we have ever
beheld -- the sunlight landscape, the dark blue river, the busy city, all combined to make a
scene rarely equaled in interest and beauty.
the vast multitude of those who were so recently rend in ignorance and cruel bondage,
coming up to receive from the Government they so gallantly fought to save, and have since
so sincerely and faithfully endeavored to serve that noble and beautiful temple of learning.
Many were the prayers that ascended from grateful hearts that as when near five years ago
they received from the immortal Lincoln, the Proclamation of Emancipation, that God would
make them worthy of the gift he bestowed upon them; pledging themselves to improve,
appreciate and honor the privileges offered for their mental cultivation.
The day was simply magnificent: the atmosphere perfectly transparent; the sky of the
deepest blue, and without a cloud: the sun gloriously bright, and a temperature made
delightful by a cool southern breeze. The children of the colored sabbath schools is
assembled at their respective places of meeting together with the various Ladies' societies,
and proceeded in procession to the school house. The United Sons of America, Freedmen's
Aid, and Benevolent societies formed in the public square and preceded by the Azekial
Band went to the Bureau Headquarters where they received the Commissioner, Gen. Gile,
Gov. Reed, Chief Justice Randall and others who were to participate in the exercises, and
escorted them to the school building. Previous to the commencement of the exercises the
distinguished guests were given an opportunity to examine the structure, and all united in
their praise of its excellent arrangement and through completeness and adaptability for the
purposes of education.
The Assistant Superintendent of Freedmen's schools Dr. Wakefield, was called the
assemblage to order and spoke as follows:
We have assembled here on this beautiful spring day to engage in the joyous ceremonies of
the dedication of this elegant and commodious school house, the Government has so
liberally built for the education of any, and all, who will accept and enjoy its benefits.
It is hoped this institution so well designed so thoroughly built, so delightful in its
location--the centre of a large population, in a state with such a glorious prospect for its
future will exercise a molding influence upon the minds of those who shall be educated here,
to make each a loyal, patriotic, order loving and progressive citizen of the Union and this
young but growing State.
It is related of Michael Angelo, that, as he was walking through one of the streets of the city
where he lived, one morning, he espied in an obscure place a block of marble all covered
with dirt and rubbish, and instantly throwing off his coat began to remove the rubbish and
dirt, when he was accosted by a friend passing by, surprised to see him laboring upon such
an unseemingly mass, who inquired what he was doing with that rude block? He replied
"there is an angel in here and I am going to get it out." He saw to that in that unsightly mass,
which looked so little attractive to an ordinary observer the image of an angel, which, by his
skill and patient toil could be brought out to his own great joy, and the admiration of the
world. So in this studio we hope to take many rude blocks of humanity all covered with
ignorance and aid who under the skill and patient ? of the artists from time to time presiding
?these rooms, shall bring out not only the angel which Angelo saw, but the real angelic form
originally placed there, and restore the image of the Creator, and fit them for that art gallery
on high, when the Heavenly artist shall gather together his own, and the works of his
colabors on earth.
* * *
An earnest and appropriate Prayer was offered up by Rev. W. N. Page, of the city. "My
country ti's of thee" was then sung by the multitude with much fervor.
The report of the Board of officers appointed to examine and report whether the building
had been erected according to the plans and specifications agreed upon, consisting of Bvt.
Lieut. Col. Jacob F. Chur, A. A. A. G.; Capt. Jos. H. Durkee. Disbursing Officer and Dr. A. J.
Wakefield, Asst., Supt. of Schools, was read by Col. Chur, stating that the terms of the
contract had been complied with, the work had been performed in a satisfactory and
creditable manner, and recommended its acceptance.
Gen. Giles [George W.] ordered the building in behalf of the Government, and ordered the
Disbursing Officer, Capt. Durkee, to make the final payment and relieve the contractor from
The Commissioner, Gen. Giles, then, in behalf of the Government, presented the building to
be dedicated for the purposes of education.
We may still regard the building as a child without a name, one is required. I was not
educated as an orator, but to-day I lament that I have not the gift of eloquence with which to
express my admiration for the many virtues and public services of him who bears the name
with which ? baptize this building. In self denying devotion to the cause of freedom and
humanity, in firm and unwavering fidelity to our county when in the throes of rebellion, he
stood among the civil officers of the land, second only to the martyr President--Abraham
This building shall be known as the "Stanton Normal Institute, No. 1."
The announcement of Stanton's name was received with great applause, and we are
assured that no name could have been more acceptable to those present.
His Excellency Gov. Reed (Ed: Harrison Reed) was introduced as the orator of the day by
General Gile, saying, "It is true he is a Reed, but not a Reed easily broken as you all have
abundant proof. Put your trust in him and you will not find him wanting."
The Governor said that it seemed proper as Chief Magistrate, that he should be present
upon this occasion, although he was compelled to have the Capitol when extraordinary
State cares were pressing upon him. He referred to the edifice as an honor to those having
it in charge, beautiful in its proportions, and spacious in its accommodation. He continued::
Eight years ago the death-knell of American slavery was sounded in the proclamation of civil
war. As that war progressed emancipation succeeded as a natural sequence of the conflict,
while the Government ...
free North were taxed to provide for the physical and moral necessities of the children of
bondage, thus becoming the wards of the nation from no volition of their own.
The government met the demands for the subsistence of this dependent people and the
Christian philanthropy of the North, ever sensitive to the calls of suffering humanity, whether
in foreign lands of in our own country, gathered the treasures and pointed laid the field of
the missionaries of salvation commissioned to prepare the minds of the former slave for the
new and important responsibilities of freedom.
As education and cultivation of the mind was incompatible with slavery--so ignorance and
intellectual degradation is incompatible with freedom and the obligations of citizenship. The
problem of emancipation had long agitated the popular, mind throughout the nation, but its
? was attended with apparent insurmountable difficulties, and it had been shrunk from the
dread, by the free as well as the slave states. But the bloody sword of civil war cut the
gordian knot, and suddenly, without provision or forethought, the nation was called to the
protection and guardianship of four millions of emancipated slaves.
It was a responsibility which taxed the wisest statesmanship and the most liberal Christian
philanthropy. At the South the relation of slave and master had so long existed that it was of
course impossible that the new relations could be recognized without hesitation and delay.
At the North a narrow bigotry and bitter prejudice on account of color, precluded an
immediate and friendly acceptance of the situation with its responsibilities.
The wise, the benevolent, the good, and the true--those whose courage and patriotism,
religion and philanthropy expand with the occasion, entered in faith upon the new work, and
hundreds of devoted Christian teachers, in defiance of the popular contempt, amid derision
and insult, volunteered to enter the dark field and seek to enlighten and educate the new
recipients of freedom.
In December 1862 as an officer of the Federal Government, I met the advance guard of this
heroic band at Fernandina and St. Augustine, within the circumscribed limits of the Union
army, laying the foundation stone of permanent republican government in Florida. Most of
the officers of the Union army looked with contempt upon these humble missionaries of
freedom; but with self-sacrificing devotion they labored as those who seek their reward in
the Savior's plaudit, "In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it
unto me." They walked by faith and their labors were not in vain.
During the last three years the Federal Government has expended in the Southern States,
for rental, repairs and construction of school buildings, and the transportation of teachers,
and books, and for the salaries of officers, at least one million of dollars. One hundred large
buildings have been erected and a very much larger number have been remodeled and
repaired to render them suitable for educational purposes. The number of children taught in
these schools in a single year is estimated at 200,000 --- requiring 6000 teachers.
I have no data from which I can estimate the probable expenditure of the various Northern
benevolent associations in behalf of education at the South since they commenced their
labors; but the practical advantage to the freedmen have been even greater than the
expenditures of the government, because they have been of a character to reach the hearts
and intellects of the people, and have been decided by the most lofty Christian philanthropy.
In Florida the work of building has been retarded more than ? any other Southern State. But
the present Assistant Commissioner, Gen. Gile has infused new energy into the work, and is
not most actively engaged in extending school facilities, and has in contemplation and in
process of construction improvements to the amount of $30,000 in value, which will afford
accommodations for at least 10,000 pupils.
We need here to-day, to dedicate the first edifice erected in the State of Florida for a
Normal School for the education of teachers for freedmen. It is the occasion not only for
congratulation but for reflection.
In the Providence of God, the State has passed from under a political system incompatible
with the education of the masses, to a system which finds its most successful development
in such education and cultivation. Despotism rest securely only upon the ignorance and
degradation of the governed. Republican government is successful only in proportion as it
elevates and educates the people, and secures to all alike access to the true knowledge.
That system of education, then, which reaches down to the lowest strata and "illuminates the
bottom" of human society is the most effective in the elevation of mankind and the most
conducive to peace order and good government. Free schools, based upon the property of
the country and maintained by general tax, secure to the youth of all classes--the poor as
well as the rich--the boon which fits man for the largest usefulness her and more extended
A word to the freedmen in whose interest this edifice is erected.
The fostering hand of the government has been hitherto extended to you because of your
unfitness, from education and habit, for self government and independence. For four years
it has administered to your necessities, and by its munificence and power sought to prepare
you for the new responsibilities of freemen and citizenship. Having provided governments for
your protection, and furnished facilities for your advancement, it now leaves you to your own
resources as other citizens. For a time it will continue to expend money in the erection of
school buildings; but you have now to address yourselves to your own industry and energy
for future advancement.
It should be your pride now to achieve for yourselves and vindicate to the world your powers
of self-government, independence and manhood. You are no longer slaves, subject to
arbitrary control, but freemen and citizens. Freedom does not however, bring exemption
from labor, nor from obedience to law. On the contrary it imposes new burdens and
responsibilities. These responsibilities can only be met and discharged as you feed and
respect your manhood and cultivate an independent and self-reliant spirit.
It should be your pride, as it is your duty, to seek out every means by which you can elevate
and honor your race--- While firmly asserting your equal rights and privileges under the
government, you should prepare yourselves for an intelligent vindication of those rights and
privileges. You are now no longer wards of the government to be treated like dependent
children, but you are full grown men, endowed with the privileges and encumbered with the
responsibilities of American citizens.
This edifice is built by the Government as one of the means for your future improvement
and education. It is for you to determine whether it shall be productive of lasting good. The
highest standard of education and moral excellence should be established in this school,
and none should be commissioned to go out from here who are not thoroughly qualified to
honor the profession, and fitted in mind and heart to educate your children in the duties of
practical life and lead them in the path of truth and righteousness.
In conclusion, it may not be improper ......elected by the suffrage of the class of citizens in
whose interest this edifice has been erected, to tender most cordial thanks to Gen'l Gile and
his associates, who have....of the Federal government, and through whose energy and
appreciative spirit this institution has been so rapidly and successfully completed. In this and
all other similar projects in the State we pledge him the most heartily ? and cooperation of
the State government; until Florida, the land of the olive and the vine of flowers and sunny
skies shall in her school system via with the proudest and most enlightened of the States of
the American Union.
Chief Justice Randall (Ed: Chief Edwin M. Randall, Chief Justice Florida Supreme Court)
then spoke of the History of the movement which had resulted in the erection of the
structure, and of the objects to which it was to be devoted. The Florida Institute was
incorporated for the purpose of holding school property; no classes were designated, it was
open for the education and training of all and, not as had been said, for the colored children
alone. It was the first of the kind, but they would soon be found all over the State. The
interest in education will soon be such that no community will consent to be without the
means of educating their children in schools at home. His remarks were continued at length,
and listened to with close attention.
Hon. J. S. Adams, Commissioner of Immigration, In the Absence of Hon. C. T. Chase was
called upon, and made a short, plain, and practical speech, striking upon several points of
common sense and practical honesty, which went to the hearts of his hearers. He referred
to the work of the Freedmen's Bureau, saying that although it had been slandered and
misrepresented; yet it was one of the grandest and most important institutions ever founded,
and its educational work in the cultivation and elevation of the Freedmen could not be
estimated too highly. He paid a glowing and eloquent tribute to Maj. Gen. Howard, for his
self-sacrificing, Christian philanthropy in accepting the charge of the Freedmen's Bureau,
when no other person would take the position in the face of the sneers and problems
heaped upon the institution, and for the success which it has achieved under his skillful
management. He also bestowed upon Gen. Gile a merited compliment for his prompt and
energetic action in carrying forward, in this State, the great work which the Bureau was
designed to accomplish, not only in this city, but throughout the entire limits of the
commonwealth, in the erection of school-houses, and his promotion of our educational
interests. The speaker was repeatedly cheered, especially when referring to Gen. Howard
and Gen. Gile, showing that their work is appreciated by those whom they desire to serve.
Judge O. B. Hart was introduced by Dr. Wakefield with some felicitous remarks, and desired
to give a few words of cheer. He said the fundamental laws of equity were fixed forever, that
the colored people had aided in fixing those principles; they should be the basis of all school
laws, securing to the children of all classes equity of educational rights and privileges. He
spoke at length upon the necessity of patient perseverance, and of making great sacrifices
for the education of the children.
Hon. C. H. Pearce, of Tallahassee, was filled with almost overwhelming joy as he looked
upon the noble edifice, erected for the education of all the children, and expressed his
gratitude that the Freedmen's Bureau had ever been established, believing that it was the
only chance and only channel by which the purposes of God had been carried out. He
rejoiced at the erection of this building, yet when this and one thousand more were
completed and opened, the Government will have just commenced to do their duty by his
race. He hoped this would only be a prototype of scores of others in the State. Let all praise
be given to Gen. Gile and other friends, who, under the direction of the Government are
laboring assiduously to raise up a people who have been trampled upon and degraded so
long. Maj. Gen. Howard's name shall become immortal as the friend of the oppressed he
has boldly confronted the enemies of the Freedmen, and stood a hero for freedom and
W. L. C?, Esq, cashier of the Freedmen's Saving Bank, spoke of the early movements for
the education, elevation and christi animation of the poor Freedmen at the various military
headquarters on the Atlantic coast, and of the vast proportions which the work has since
assumed; it is estimated that not less than $5,000,000 have been contributed by
philanthropists of the North for the Freedmen, and not less than 4000 teachers have been
employed in the work of educating then, exclusive of appropriations, by the government. He
concluded by paying a beautiful tribute to the women of the North who had labored so
faithfully among the colored people, and to the Union soldiers who had lain down their lives
in devotion to the cause of human liberty, and urged them to go to their homes and
consecrate and reconsecrate their children to their county, and to their country's God---to
vow eternal loyalty to the old flag.
Rev. Wm. N. Page followed with the dedicatory address, and inspired by the occasion, he
rose to a pitch of genuine eloquence that secured undivided attention and unbroken
silence. We regret that we are unable to give the address in full, as we cannot do justice to
the speaker. He said:
I am proud of the honor conferred upon me of speaking the closing words of dedication and
consecration of this beautiful building to the cause of liberal and refined education.
Thank God that my eyes do behold the day, when, foundations having been laid walls
erected, books and teachers provided, and we can consecrate this edifice to humanity, to
the mind, to the soul, whether that soul's casket be cut in ebony or ivory. Thank God for the
day when this glorious Government, like a second Moses, strikes the riven rock of old
institutions--causes the waters of the fountain of education and higher life to flow freely
forth, and cries with a Christlike voice to all--Ho, every one that thirsteth come and drink,
and he that hath no money let him come, buy wine and milk without money and without
price." To-day a fountain is opened upon this spot which shall flow forever, and whose
waters shall be for the healing of the nations.
We gather here today in the name of no party or sect, or section or creed, or religion or
race, but as citizens, and only with the trinity named motto of God, Liberty and Education.
The starry banner that floats over us and over a united country, from the frozen rivers of the
North to the gleaming waters of the Gulf, and from ocean to ocean, has all our names, from
the least unto the greatest, written on its folds and with eyes wet with the tears of love and
pride, we look up to it and upon it as our title deed to the grand inheritance of an
incorruptible and undefiled liberty. May God grant that this inheritance shall never be taken
As this building was erected under the especial care of the Freedmen's Bureau so it has an
especial significance to the freedmen before me. It is a token of good will unto you from your
Government, a token which it has obtained the right to confer by the great price of seas of
blood and thousands and tens of thousands of .......
The new Normal School building erected by the Bureau of R. F. and A. I. under the personal
supervision of Lieut. Col. G. W. Gile, Assistant Commissioner, is a beautiful structure costing
about $14,000. It is two stories high, and contains six large school rooms, also cloak room,
private room for teachers, library and apparatus room and a large hall on the second floor
capable of seating about 800 persons. The second story is reached by four flights of stairs
from the verandas. The entire building is thoroughly finished; the outside is covered with
three coats of paint, as also the wood-work inside; the walls are kalsomined. A fine tower for
a bell surmounts the building. The edifice stands on an eminence in the rear of the city,
which commands a fine view of the St. Johns river and surrounding country. Col. Gile is
deserving of the highest praise for the good taste and thorough business manner in which
he has supervised the erection of this structure. He has spared not time or labor to secure
its speedy and successful completion.
The Freedmen's schools in Jacksonville for several years past had been under the charge
of four lady teachers, Miss Morgan, Miss Stratton, Miss Osgood and Miss Knapp, and took
high rank for efficiency and usefulness, but at the close of the winter term of 1867-68 these
ladies were transferred to other scenes of labor. During the winter of 1868-69 (previous to
the completion of the new school house) there were but two teachers here, and owing to the
want of proper accommodations and other causes beyond the control of the teachers, the
schools had almost dwindled away.
Immediately after the dedication of the new school house, renewed efforts were made to
revive the schools and place them upon a better and more substantial footing, and the
colored people themselves taking pride in the handsome edifice which had been erected for
their for their special use, has tended to avail themselves of its benefits.
Between three and four hundred scholars were soon enrolled as members of the "Institute,"
and those were graded as nearly as possible according to age and advancement.
Miss Catherine R. Bent, of Newsburyport , Mass., a lady of culture and ability who for three
years past has been teaching the Freedmen's school at Gainsville, Fla. was placed at the
head of the Institute and took personal charge of the Normal Department. Miss Annetta
Lynch of Ballston Spa, N.Y., Miss Anna M Apthorp, of Bower's Prairie, Iowa, and Miss Idella
Y. Richmond of Claverack, N. Y. were placed in charge of the three intermediate grades,
and Miss Martha R. Stetson, of Marlboro, Mass, and Miss Mary Still, a colored lady who has
taught for several years in this city, took charge of the two primary divisions."
Uneasy movement could be detected among the three hundred children posted quietly
together and all with the exception of two or three were things on the first form, who fell
quietly to sleep towards the close, went through their own allotted tasks or watched the
performances of their schoolfellows with an interest and intelligence refreshing to witness.
The entire school house, we noticed was apparently as fresh and clean as when it was
opened three months ago. The floors were almost without a stain, and not a scratch or mark
defaced the white walls. What better evidence than this could be produced to show the
careful discipline of the teachers and the docility and good conduct of the scholars.
Ketchum to Sprague on Appropriation, August 29, 1867
Stanton Monthly Report - April 1870
Stanton Monthly Report - December 1870
Stanton Monthly Report - May 1871
From the American Missionary July, 1870
Stanton Normal Institute.
Jacksonville, Florida, named for gen. Jackson, is situated on the St. Johns river twenty-five
miles from its mouth. It is an incorporated city numbering eight thousand inhabitants.
The War --- Schools.
During the war this city was devastated by fire and storm, being taken and retaken three
times. Not far from the 20th of Feb. 1864 the Expedition fitted out from Hilton Head, S.
Carolina, in command of Gen. Mitchell, entered the St. Johns River and was followed by the
immediate occupation of Jacksonville.
The Battle of Olustee occurred on the 18th of March. Soon after, the first schools for
instructing the Freedmen were opened by Mrs. Dr. Hawks and other Northern ladies
assisted by the Rev. W. M. Henry agent of the United States Christian Commission. A
Sabbath school was organized about the same time. About the 1st of July these ladies
returned to their northern homes and on the 18th of July rev. John s. Suarin, a missionary of
the Methodist Episcopal Church, was sent to take charge of the desolate Methodist Church
at Jacksonville. Under the superintendence and faithful labors of this devoted missionary,
over four hundred were gathered into the S. School.
The following year, Miss M. Eveleth and Miss Jocelyn of Brooklyn, N. Y. arrived and were
joined by Mrs. Hawks. The Schools were opened in the colored churches where ever gust of
wind found an easy entrance into the buildings.
These schools struggled on under many disadvantages, but we trust a brighter future is now
opened. In accordance with the new School Law, public Schools are to be established
throughout the State and equal privileges accorded to white and colored children.
Under the supervision of Lieut. Col. Gile, a large and commodious school building has been
erected and named "The Stanton Normal Institute." It stands on an eminence, in the rear of
the city, which commands a fine view of the St. Johns River and the surrounding country. It
is two stories high and contains six large school rooms, a library and apparatus room and a
large assembly room on the second floor, capable of seating three hundred persons. It is
surrounded by balconies and the second story is reached by four flights of steps from the
verandas. A fine bell tower surmounts the building. The entire cost was nearly sixteen
The building was dedicated April 10th, 1869. The schools were then brought together and
graded. Between three and four hundred scholars were enrolled.
This institute is now under the fostering care of the A. M. A. and has during the winter
numbered nearly four hundred students. The entire schools are in charge of Miss Celia E.
Williams, of Deerfield, Mass. Six teachers are associated with her in the work. A mission
Sabbath School has been organized during the winter and from the high-ways and by-ways
over three hundred scholars gathered in.
This is the first Normal school building erected in the State and the importance of sustaining
this institution and making it a point from which shall go forth evangelical teachers and a
pure Christianity is easily seen, for this city is central, and Romanism with her emissaries is
here gathering in, unwary souls.
The seeds of a new civilization for all the people of this State is being scattered broadcast,
to yield, we trust, an abundant harvest, and like the handful of corn in the earth on the tops
of the mountains, the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon. C. E. Williams
|Stanton Normal Institute
|Edwin M Stanton
Secretary of War
|Judge O. B. Heart
|Gov. Harrison Reed
|Stanton Normal School
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