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idea of keeping many slaves became a popular one, and the practice became economically profitable. The desire to protect the system of slavery itself grew, and, little by little, education, which seemed to be striking at the very roots of slavery, was made taboo. Measures began to be framed to make the education of the Negro impossible. South Carolina took the lead in this matter in 1740, Georgia soon followed, and for a century the restrictions continued to be multiplied. Colored people, beyond a certain number, were not allowed to assemble for social or religious purposes, except in the presence of “discreet" white men. Masters who had employed their favorite blacks as bookkeepers, or printers, or in similar occupations were forced to discontinue the practice. Private and public school teachers were forbidden by law to assist Negroes in the acquisition of knowledge in any branch whatsoever. It was made a crime for a Negro to teach his own children, and numerous other limitations were added.


Quite naturally this placing of learning in the class of the "forbidden fruit" only served to make it doubly attractive to many Negroes. Children were taught in secret by their parents; adults stole away in the darkness of the night to some hidden spot to receive instruction; and in some cases children of slave owners taught the younger blacks to read, and they were not punished for their acts. Just

how widely education had become extended among the slaves is not definitely known, as the shrewdest Negroes would feign ignorance when examined. It has been estimated that ten per cent of the adult Negroes had at least the rudiments of an education by 1860.


The emancipation of the American Negro in 1863 is probably unique in history both in method and results. The freeing of four million individuals who had been in bondage, and the setting of them loose without homes, with almost no clothes, with no food, and, in fact, without most of the necessities of existence was unprecedented. The story of the adjustment of the Negro to the new situation is little less than a wonder story. The profound ig. norance of the great mass of Negroes was only one factor in a very complicated situation. Curiously enough, however, the dominating passion of multitudes of these ignorant, degraded human beings was to get education. The “forbidden fruit” had become the one thing supremely to be desired. There was little or no attempt to take over the property of former masters; slight was the concern for material possessions so long as there was a rag to cover the body, a crust of bread to eat, or shelter of any sort available; the supreme passion was the passion to learn. The school was the one thing needful, and the ability to read and write was the golden key to unlock the riches of the world. The

story of those days is a touching one. All over the Southland groups might be seen sitting far into the night poring over the primer or the spellingbook. Tottering old men and women sat side by side with their children and their children's children endeavoring to master the intricacies of the A B Cs.


Even while the war was in progress philanthropic agencies had been at work teaching the Negro. One soldier at least insisted that every Negro who came into the camp brought a spelling-book with him. As soon as the war was over, home mission boards and general agencies projected work in the South. Some denominations combined in their educational work through the Western and Northwestern Freedmen's Aid Commission. The work was felt to be limited, however, by that arrangement. The Methodist Episcopal Church cooperated through these general agencies until several of the larger denominations had withdrawn and set up their own work and until it became apparent that effective work could no longer be carried on and supported according to the plan in operation.



At this juncture a meeting of ministers and laymen was called at the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, "to confer in regard to

the work of relief and education required in behalf of the freedmen.” The meeting was called to order at two o'clock on the afternoon of August 7, 1866, and lasted for two days. The following persons were present: Bishop D. W. Clark, Rev. Adam Poe, Rev. J. M. Reid, Rev. R. S. Rust, Rev. John M. Walden, Rev. J. R. Stillwell, and Mr. J. F. Larkin of Cincinnati; Rev. Luke Hitchcock and the Hon. Grant Goodrich of Chicago; Rev. B. F. Crary of St. Louis; and Rev. Robert Allyn of Lebanon. This meeting resulted in the organization of The Freedmen's Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Bishop D. W. Clark being made president of the society and the Rev. John M. Walden its corresponding secretary.

The nature of the discussion at this meeting is well illustrated by the following statement which was made relative to what the new society might accomplish :

At a moderate estimate it would secure fifty thousand dollars to be applied to these schools in connection with our mission work. This would support one hundred teachers nine months in the year; each teacher would have an average attendance of fifty scholars, making a total of five thousand. And, if these began in the alphabet, they would learn to read during the single session.

It was further emphasized at this meeting that the new society was “to cooperate with the Missionary and Church Extension Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.”

Within three months after its organization the


Standing: W. P. Thirkield and M. C. B. Mason. Seated: J. C. Hartzell,

J. M. Walden, R. S. Rust, and J. W. Hamilton

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