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At the end of the Civil War, public lectures by U.S. Army speakers informed black freedmen of their status and rights.

United States shall have acquired title by confiscation or sale, or otherwise,

and to every male Citizen, whether refugee or freedmen, as aforesaid, there

shall be assigned not more than forty acres [editor's italics] of such land,

and the person to whom it was so assigned shall be protected in the use

and enjoyment of the land for the term of three years at an annual

rent not exceeding six per centum upon the value of such land

 
 

Up From Slavery

A Documentary History of Negro Education

Compiled By Rudolph Lewis

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The Freedmen's Bureau Is Established, 1865 

An Act to establish a Bureau for the Relief of Freedmen and Refugees.

Be it enacted, That there is hereby established in the War Department, to continue during the present war of rebellion, and for one year thereafter, a bureau of refugees, freedmen, and abandoned lands, to which shall be committed, as hereinafter provided, the supervision and management of all abandoned lands, and the control of all subjects relating to refugees and freedmen from rebel states, or from any district of country within the territory embraced in the operations of the army, under such rules and regulations as may be prescribed by the head of the bureau and approved by the President. The said bureau shall be under the management and control of a commissioner to be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Sec. 2. That the Secretary of War may direct such issues of provisions, clothing, and fuel, as he may deem needful for the immediate and temporary shelter and supply of destitute and suffering refugees and freedmen and their wives and children, under such rules and regulations as he may direct.

Sec. 3. That the President may, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoint an assistant commissioner for each of the states declared to be in insurrection, not exceeding ten in number, who shall, under the direction of the commissioner, aid in the execution of the provisions of this act; . . . And any military officer may be detailed and assigned to duty under this act without increase of pay or allowances.

Sec. 4. That the commissioner, under the direction of the President, shall have authority to set apart, for the use of loyal refugees and freedmen, such tracts of land within the insurrectionary states as shall have been abandoned, or to which the United States shall have acquired title by confiscation or sale, or otherwise, and to every male Citizen, whether refugee or freedmen, as aforesaid, there shall be assigned not more than forty acres [editor's italics] of such land, and the person to whom it was so assigned shall be protected in the use and enjoyment of the land for the term of three years at an annual rent not exceeding six per centum upon the value of such land, as it was appraised by the state authorities in the year eighteen hundred and sixty, for the purpose of taxation, and in case no such appraisal can be found, then the rental shall be based upon the estimated value of the land in said year, to be ascertained in such manner as the commissioner may by regulation prescribe. At the end of said term, or at any time during said term, the occupants of any parcels so assigned may purchase the land and receive such title thereto as the United States can convey, upon paying therefore the value of the land, as ascertained and fixed for the purpose of determining the annual rent aforesaid. .

U.S. Statutes at Large, XIl1, pp.557 ff. This Bureau was set up to care for the freedmen and for abandoned lands in the Southern states and was to continue for one year. but on February 19, 1866, the act was extended for a year under a bill which President Johnson vetoed. In July of that year a supplementary freedmen's bureau act was passed over his veto.

Black women took the initiative in attending schools established by the Freedmen's Bureau. often such schools burned down; however, they were built quickly.

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The Capacity of the Negro for Education, 1865 

Their behalf that reading and writing are to bring with them inestimable advantages, seems, in its universality and intensity, like a mysterious instinct. All who have been among them bear witness to this fact. As respects aptitude to learn, there is similar unanimity of testimony. It cannot be expected that a man or woman whose only school-training heretofore has been that of the plantation-school, or that children whose ancestors have been slaves for generations back, should show the same quickness that the children of New-England parents manifest. 

The negro adult or child, before he enters the Freedmen's school, has been at a very bad preparatory school. Slave-masters are not good schoolmasters: still,--due allowance made for parentage and training--it is not too much to say, that the aptitude at acquiring the elements of knowledge is, by the testimony of all our teachers, marvelous under the circumstances. They do not write as if they found calls for more patience than is demanded in our ordinary Northern schools. And it is a most significant fact, that the most enthusiastic are not the new teachers, but those who have been at their posts from the beginning. It may be of interest to some, to know that they do not find any difference, in respect to intellect, between those of pure blood and those of mixed blood.

The importance of the work of educating the freedmen, can hardly be exaggerated. Its results will reach into the future. . . . The great mass of white men, who are now disloyal, will remain, for some time to come, disaffected. Black men who are now friendly will remain so. And to them must the country look in a large degree, as a counteracting influence against the evil councils and designs of the white freemen.

Report of the New England Freedmen's Aid Society, 1865. Given in Walter L. Fleming, Documentary History of Reconstruction. II, pp. 174-75.

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Sources:

Chapter VI. "The Instruction of Negroes." In Edgar W. Knight.. A Documentary History of Education in the South before 1860. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina, 1953

Chapter 10 "Up From Slavery: Educational and other Rights of Negroes." In Edgar W. Knight and Clifton L. Hall. Readings in American Educational History. New York Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1951.

Many states had laws prohibiting the education of blacks; here black youngsters are turned away at the school door

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

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#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

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Lincoln on Race and Slavery

Edited By Henry Louis Gates and Donald Yacovone

Generations of Americans have debated the meaning of Abraham Lincoln's views on race and slavery. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation and supported a constitutional amendment to outlaw slavery, yet he also harbored grave doubts about the intellectual capacity of African Americans, publicly used the n-word until at least 1862, and favored permanent racial segregation. In this book—the first complete collection of Lincoln's important writings on both race and slaveryreaders can explore these contradictions through Lincoln's own words. Acclaimed Harvard scholar and documentary filmmaker Henry Louis Gates, Jr., presents the full range of Lincoln's views, gathered from his private letters, speeches, official documents, and even race jokes, arranged chronologically from the late 1830s to the 1860s.

Complete with definitive texts, rich historical notes, and an original introduction by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., this book charts the progress of a war within Lincoln himself. We witness his struggles with conflicting aims and ideas—a hatred of slavery and a belief in the political equality of all men, but also anti-black prejudices and a determination to preserve the Union even at the cost of preserving slavery. We also watch the evolution of his racial views, especially in reaction to the heroic fighting of black Union troops.

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The Making of African America: The Four Great Migrations

By Ira Berlin

Berlin (Many Thousands Gone) offers a fresh reading of American history through the prism of the great migrations that made and remade African and African American life. The first was the forcible deportation of Africans to North America in the 17th and 18th centuries, followed by their forced transfer into the American interior during the 19th century. Then came the migration of the mid-20th century as African-Americans fled the South for the urban North, and the arrival of continental Africans and people of African descent from the Caribbean during the latter part of the 20th century. Berlin sees migration and the reshaping of communities to their new environments as central to the African-American experience. Movement is a matter of numbers, and Berlin provides them in detail kept fully readable by his attention to the cultural products of the shifts. In particular, he follows the church as it moves, the music as it takes on new themes, and kinship as it broadens. Berlin's careful scholarship is evidenced in his rich notes; the ordinary reader will be pleased by the fluidity and clarity of his prose.—Publishers Weekly

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.”

*   *   *   *   *

The Fiery Trial

Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery

By Eric Foner

A mixture of visionary progressivism and repugnant racism, Abraham Lincoln's attitude toward slavery is the most troubling aspect of his public life, one that gets a probing assessment in this study. Columbia historian and Bancroft Prize winner Foner (Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men) traces the complexities of Lincoln's evolving ideas about slavery and African-Americans: while he detested slavery, he also publicly rejected political and social equality for blacks, dragged his feet (critics charged) on emancipating slaves and accepting black recruits into the Union army, and floated schemes for colonizing freedmen overseas almost to war's end. Foner situates this record within a lucid, nuanced discussion of the era's turbulent racial politics; in his account Lincoln is a canny operator, cautiously navigating the racist attitudes of Northern whites, prodded--and sometimes willing to be prodded--by abolitionists and racial egalitarians pressing faster reforms.

But as Foner tells it, Lincoln also embodies a society-wide transformation in consciousness, as the war's upheavals and the dynamic new roles played by African-Americans made previously unthinkable claims of freedom and equality seem inevitable. Lincoln is no paragon in Foner's searching portrait, but something more essential--a politician with an open mind and a restless conscience. 16 pages of illus., 3 maps.—Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 12 June 2012

 

 

 

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