The Journal of Negro History, Volume 5, 1920
Author: Various
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[Transcriber's Note: Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as possible, including obsolete and variant spellings and other inconsistencies. Text that has been changed to correct an obvious error is noted at the end of this ebook. Also, the transcriber added the Table of Contents.]




Volume V


Table of Contents

Vol V—January, 1920—No. 1

The Negro in Education LORETTA FUNKE Negro Migration to Canada FRED LANDON Richard Hill FRANK CUNDALL Negroes and Indians in Massachusetts C. G. WOODSON Documents Book Reviews Notes

Vol V—April, 1920—No. 2

Negro Public School System in Missouri HENRY SULLIVAN WILLIAMS Religious Education DAVID HENRY SIMS Aftermath of Nat Turner's Insurrection JOHN W. CROMWELL Documents Correspondence Book Reviews Notes

Vol V—July, 1920—No. 3

The Slave in Canada WILLIAM RENWICK RIDDELL Book Reviews Notes

Vol V—October, 1920—No. 4

The Return of Negro Slaves ARNETT G. LINDSAY The Negro in Politics NORMAN P. ANDREWS Henry Bibb, a Colonizer FRED LANDON Myrtilla Miner G. SMITH WORMLEY Communications Documents Some Undistinguished Negroes Book Reviews Notes




VOL. V., NO. 1 JANUARY, 1920.


In the early history of America there were three types of settlements—the French, Spanish, and English. In the French Provinces the teachings of the "Code Noir" made it incumbent upon the masters to teach the slaves, at least to read, in order, of course, that they might read the Bible; and in the Spanish districts the Latin custom of miscegenation prevented the rise of objections to the teaching of slaves, in case there should be any who cared to instruct the Negroes. In the English Provinces, on the other hand, since teaching the slaves would probably result in their becoming Christians, the colonists naturally were strenuous in their efforts to prevent any enlightenment of the blacks, due to the existence of an unwritten law to the effect that no Christian might be held a slave. Many planters forbade the teaching of their slaves, until finally the Bishop of London settled the difficulty by issuing a formal declaration in which he stated that conversion did not work manumission.[2]

The rudimentary education of Negroes was one of the first claims on pioneer Christian teachers. Although the Negro Year Book for 1914-15 makes note of a public school for Indians and Negroes established in 1620, according to Brawley and Du Bois, the first schools to be established were private institutions.[3] In New York City in 1704 a school was opened for Negroes and Indians by Elias Neau and in 1750 Anthony Benezet established an evening school for the blacks in Philadelphia. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel established in Charleston in 1744 a mission school, in which two Negroes were employed to instruct their fellowmen. The free Negroes in Charleston established a school in 1774 and those in Boston started a school in 1798. In 1764 the editor of a paper in Williamsburg, Virginia, opened a school for Negroes and in 1800 a schoolhouse and 350 acres of ground were left by the will of Robert Pleasants to be used for the benefit of Negro children.[4] About this same time in Newark, New Jersey, the Kosciusko School was established by means of a sum amounting to $13,000 left by Kosciusko for the education of the Negroes.[5] In the Middle West private schools had been organized by manumitted Negroes.

St. Frances Academy, established in Baltimore in 1829, by The Colored Woman's Society, was the first school for colored girls. An institute for Negro children was established in 1837 in Cheyney, Pennsylvania, with the $10,000 left by Richard Humphries. By 1838 there were thirteen private schools in Philadelphia for the education of the Negro and in 1849 Avery College was established in Allegheny. Many of the schools were organized by church societies. The African Methodist Episcopal Church purchased in 1844 120 acres of land in Ohio upon which was opened the Union Seminary in 1847. This church later in co-operation with the Methodist Episcopal Church, North, established Wilberforce University in Ohio in 1856. Oberlin College in Ohio was opened in 1833 and Ashmun Institute, which later became Lincoln University, was established in 1854 in Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, there was in certain parts much opposition on the part of the citizens, evidenced by the mobbing of a young Quaker woman, Prudence Crandall, in Canterbury, Connecticut, in 1832, for having opened a school for Negro children; and in 1835 by the removal from the town of Noyes Academy in Canaan, New Hampshire, a school which had opened its doors to Negroes.

The efforts toward education for the Negro were disconnected and unorganized, while the laws opposing such education were fast increasing, so that the results seem very astonishing, despite the fact that so little was really accomplished. As early as 1740 South Carolina enacted a law forbidding the education of Negroes or the employment of slaves as scribes. Ohio in 1848 forbade Negroes and mulatoes to attend schools. Indiana enacted no law against Negro education but in 1850 omitted the Negroes from the school tax, which in turn resulted in their expulsion from education in that State. In 1852 Delaware enacted a law declaring the schools free for all white children over five years of age. In spite of all the regulations and severe laws opposing the education of the Negro many "clandestine schools" were held in Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans before 1860.[6] The private schools increased in number rapidly during the early nineteenth century among the free Negroes in the District of Columbia and the border States. They were less numerous in the South except in certain particular districts. In Washington, D.C., and New Orleans it is reported that at the opening of the Civil War there were about twenty schools for Negroes established.[7] It is also estimated that in the slave States in 1860 there were 4,000 free Negro children in school.[8] These figures, however, are relatively small in comparison with the numbers and economic standards of the free Negroes. In 1836 in New Orleans alone the freedmen numbered 855, owned 620 slaves, and held property whose assessed value equaled $2,462,470.[9] By 1860 the total number of free Negroes was 487,970, or about one ninth of the entire black population;[10] but the majority of these freedmen were in the rural districts, whereas the educational opportunities were in the cities, so that in 1863, with only 5 per cent of the Negro population literate the problem was indeed difficult, as far as the education of the black race was concerned.

The next period in the education of the Negro was a decade of the establishment of schools by the carpet-bag governments, mission societies, and the Freedmen's Bureau. Some of the schools established by the Negro carpet-baggers became very efficient. For example, in Florida, Jonathan C. Gibbs, a Negro graduate of Dartmouth, succeeded in founding in that State a splendid system of schools, which remained even after the fall of the carpet-bag governments.[11] The American Missionary Association was the first benevolent organization to take up the work of education. The plan of this association was to establish one school of higher learning in each of the larger States in the South; normal and graded schools in the principal cities; and common and parochial schools in the smaller country places. As a result of this program, the principal institutions established were Hampton Institute, Atlanta University, Fisk University, Straight University, Talladega College, Tougaloo University, and Tillston College.[12] The American Baptist Home Mission Society started work in 1862, which resulted in eight schools: Atlanta Baptist College and Virginia Union University for men; Spelman Seminary and Hartshorn Memorial College for women; and the coeducational institutions, Bishop College, Benedict College, Shaw University, and Jackson College.[13] In 1866, just before the beginning of the work of the Freedmen's Bureau in education, the schools so far established had in attendance nearly 100,000.[14] The Freedmen's Bureau had been established in 1865 by an act of Congress and by 1867 it reported 1,056 Negro teachers and in 1870 the number was increased to 1,342. During the five years of its work, this bureau established 4,239 schools in the South, with a total number of teachers of 9,307 and of students, 247,333.[15] Howard University, established in 1867, was one of these institutions. The Freedman's Aid Society was organized by the northern Methodists in 1866 and to-day this society supports fifty institutions, ten of which are collegiate.[16]

At the end of this period many religious agencies were establishing schools. The Episcopalians established the St. Paul Normal and Industrial School at Lawrence, Virginia, and St. Augustine's in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Roman Catholics opened St. Joseph's Industrial School at Clayton, Delaware; St. Augustine's Academy and St. Frances' Academy. Besides these they have in the United States 87 schools for Negro children cared for by 24 sisterhoods.[17] The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church has established twelve institutions, four colleges, one theological school, and seven secondary schools.[18] The Presbyterian Board of Missions has established Biddle University in North Carolina, five seminaries for girls, and 70 academies and parochial schools.[19] The work of this period was not only constructive as far as Negro education was concerned, but it also affected the life of the white population as well by instituting public school systems in "regions where public schools had been unknown,"[20] bringing about a new attitude in the South toward public schools in general, since the whites up to this time had, in the words of Colonel Richard P. Hallowell, "regarded the public school system in the North with contempt."[20]

Toward the end of this period a new type of education was introduced by the founding of Hampton Institute in 1875. This marked the beginning of the period of industrialism, the purpose of such education being to give the Negro children "combined mental, moral and industrial training."[21] Following the founding of Hampton, Tuskegee Institute was established; also being an industrial school. With these two institutions as centers, the ideals of the industrial propagandist radiated in all directions, finally permeating the whole educational system, not only that of the Negro, but the educational system of the schools for white children as well.

Although separation of the black and white children in the public schools is forbidden in fourteen of the States, the law requires the separation of the children in the following States: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. In Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, and Wyoming, the boards of education are given the power to decide the question. Eleven of the States of the Union make no provision in their laws one way or the other[22] Separation is demanded in the private schools in Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. The law in Kentucky was created at a time when it affected only one institution—that of Berea College, which was established in 1856 for the education of anti-slavery whites and was opened to Negro students after the Civil War. In 1904, the date of the passage of the law, this college had 927 students, 174 of whom were Negroes.[23] All of the Northern States have compulsory education, but only two of the Southern States, Kentucky and Missouri, have enacted such laws. This does not mean, of course, that these laws are enforced, nor is this a key to the amount of education obtained in proportion to the population, but it does indicate the difference in opportunities for education between the Northern and Southern States.

In regard to the elementary education of the Negro children the whole situation is rather discouraging, but great progress has been made and one may hope for still greater progress in the future. The increase in facilities for education between 1866 and 1870 was quite marked, with a corresponding increase in the number of pupils, as shown by the following table:


+========+========+==============+==========+ Date Schools No. Teachers Pupils + + -+ -+ + 1866 975 1,405 90,778 1867 1,839 2,087 111,442 1868 1,831 2,295 104,327 1869 2,118 2,455 114,522 1870 2,677 3,300 149,581 + + -+ -+ +

The total expenditure for education during this period was $5,879,924. There was in 1870, however, only about one tenth of the Negro children of school age in school. Later, from 1889 to 1909, the number of children enrolled greatly increased:


Date White Colored 1889-1890 66.28 51.65 1899-1900 72.32 57.67 1908-1909 74.76 58.34

In the first year more than half the children were in school, a decade later the increase was practically the same in the case of the Negro children as it was in the case of the white children, but nine years later the percentage had risen over 2 per cent in the case of the white children and had decreased in the case of the blacks. The census report of 1910 shows the percentage of Negro children enrolled in school to be but 47.3 per cent, a decrease of 9 per cent. The average attendance of the Negro children amounted to about one-third of the number enrolled.[26] For these children there were 28,000 teachers, or in other words, one teacher to every group of 57 children; whereas the teachers for the white children averaged one to 45. The report of the Commissioner of Education in 1909 gives a total number of school children in the slave States of 3,054,888, instructed by 9,000 school teachers—3,114 males and 5,886 female.[27] According to this report, there would only be one teacher to every group of 184.35 children. This seems an impossible number, so that one feels that surely something must be wrong with the report. The training of these school teachers is not of the highest, nor do they have a great deal of training. The State School Commissioner of Georgia gives the following report of conditions there:[28]

326 teachers with normal certificates, 129 teachers with first grade certificates, 476 teachers with second grade certificates, 2,037 teachers held third grade certificates.

The expenditures for all the children equaled $46,000,000, but the Negro children who were one third of the total number received but one seventh of this sum. For 231,801 Negro children South Carolina spent $366,734.28, or $1.58 per capita, whereas Massachusetts spends $27 per capita each year, and the District of Columbia spends $35.21. The South Carolina school tax is heavier than the tax in Massachusetts, but this State spends only $3.82 per capita for white children.[29] Louisiana spends 93 per cent of the school funds for the white children, and 7 per cent for the colored, making a per capita expenditure of $16.60 for the white children and for the Negro an expenditure of $1.59. The District of Columbia spends more for the colored children than for the white, per capita expenditure: white, $20.82; Negro, $21.87.[30]

The rural schools, as may be expected, are in a worse condition than those of the city, in regard to equipment, teachers, and especially in subject matter relating to the adjustments to a rural community. Nevertheless, it seems that there is much more progress being made in these schools than in those in the city. Baily in his Race Orthodoxy in the South describes a visit to what he terms a typical rural school.[31] "There were no desks and only a small fragment of a blackboard in one corner. The teacher showed signs of having very little education himself and used no methods whatsoever in teaching. There was only one whole book for the entire reading class. The pupils came at all hours of the day and left whenever convenient for them. When the teacher was asked how many pupils were enrolled in the school, he answered that there were sixty." Mr. Bailey remarks that, after glancing over the room, he fancied there were sixty "acomin' and agoin'."

The Negroes in the rural communities have practically no literature with the possible exception of a few patent inside newspapers carried on by the heads of one or the other Negro orders.[32] The amount of elevating reading matter may be judged by the type of advertisements which run along the line of "hair-dressing that makes kinky hair soft, pliant and glossy," and also of experiments of surgeons with the X-ray in making black skin white. Among the books furnished in the schools, nothing contained in them relates in any way to rural life.

In 1908 in North Carolina the average length of term for the rural Negro school was 82.1 days,—the average length for all Negro schools, including high schools, being 93 days. In this State there are 195 log schoolhouses and 2,216 of the Negro schoolhouses are furnished with home-made desks and benches. The rural Negro teacher receives an average salary of $22.48 per month and the city Negro teacher receives but $30.20.[33] The conditions in the agricultural communities in the North seem to be better than those in the South. 20,700,000 ruralites in the South average 7,000,000 children of school age, 4,400,000 of whom are enrolled in school with an average attendance of 2,700,000. In the North, on the other hand, 20,700,000 ruralites average 6,000,000 children, 4,500,000 of whom are enrolled, with an average attendance of 3,200,000. For the South there are 92,000 school teachers, whereas there are 158,000 in the North. School property in the South is valued at $42,000,000 and in the North at $217,000,000. The school revenue is $26,000,000 and $92,000,000 respectively. Per capita expenditure in the South is under $10 and in the North it is almost $30. The South spends only 16 cents on each $100 valuation, and the North 20 cents.[34]

Many signs of progress are visible in the South, due mainly to the influence of industrial institute graduates who attempt to reorganize the rural districts with more or less success. One graduate of Tuskegee seems to have met with unusual success in Hinds County, Mississippi.[35] The Negroes in this community outnumber the white population seven to one, but out of 40,000 of the inhabitants 13,000 can neither read nor write. In five years this graduate has built up an industrial school with a farm of 1,500 acres, three large and eleven small buildings, one large plantation house and thirty farm houses. The school property is valued at $75,000, and he has started an endowment fund in order to make the work permanent. In Macon County, Alabama, improvements have been rapid. In five years' time through the influence of a changed school system the value of the land has risen from $2 an acre to $15 and $20. It is reported that crime has been reduced to a negligible quantity. At the last sitting of the grand jury there were only 17 cases of all kinds.[36] The "Rising Star" School in West Virginia through a change in teacher and curriculum has affected the community in as equally astonishing manner. Not only are the homes of the farmers improved, but the number of land-owning citizens has also increased. Even the religion preached has been greatly changed with the introduction of industrial training.[37] There is one school fund which is for the purpose of improving rural conditions, that is the Jeanes Fund amounting to $1,000,000, the interest on which is to be used for the rural schools in supplying competent teachers as supervisors to introduce industrial training. The influence of this fund together with the influence of Hampton and Tuskegee Institutes seems to be the hope of the future for the rural districts.

In the matter of secondary education, high schools for the Negroes are practically lacking. In Atlanta with a Negro population of 51,902 Negroes; in Savannah with 33,246; and in Augusta with 18,344, there are no Negro high schools whatsoever.[38] The following table shows the distribution of the 156 high schools for Negroes[39] (1913):

Alabama 6 Maryland 1 Arkansas 4 Mississippi 10 Delaware 1 Missouri 14 District of Columbia 2 North Carolina 3 Florida 6 Ohio 1 Georgia 14 Oklahoma 5 Illinois 5 Pennsylvania 1 Indiana 6 South Carolina 13 Kansas 1 Tennessee 9 Kentucky 8 Texas 37 Louisiana 1 Virginia 4 West Virginia 5

The increase in the number of high schools in the Southern States from year to year is shown by the following:[40]

============+============+========+============ Year High Schools Year High Schools + + + 1899-1900 92 1905-1906 129 1900-1901 100 1906-1907 121 1901-1902 99 1907-1908 106 1902-1903 123 1908-1909 112 1903-1904 131 1909-1910 141 1904-1905 146 + + +

Apparently there is no effort in the South to supply high schools for the Negro. The General Assembly of Georgia passed a bill to establish high schools in all of the congressional districts of the State. Eleven were established and supported by a fertilizer tax, most of which was paid by the Negroes who numbered 45.1 per cent of the population of the State, and 80 per cent of whom lived in the rural districts. None of these schools, however, were for members of the Negro race.[41]

The founding of the two most important industrial schools has been mentioned before. Hampton Institute which was founded by the American Missionary Society in 1868 now consists of 113 buildings, including the instructors' cottages.[42] 76 of these buildings were erected by student labor. There are 120 acres to the Home Farm and 600 acres to Shellbanks, six miles from the Institute. The enrollment in 1910 was 875, or 1,399 including the Normal Practice School. Tuskegee Institute which began with one hoe and a blind mule now possesses 2,000 acres of land, 800 of which are cultivated each year by the young men of the school. During 1903, 33 trades were taught to over 1,400 men and women. By means of this work, the students pay more than one half of their expenses. Of the sixty buildings, all but four were almost wholly erected by students, even to the making of the bricks.[43] Although the average Negro was greatly antagonistic regarding this training at the beginning of the work at these institutes and many protests were heard from all sides, Mr. Washington stated in The Negro Problem that it has been several years since they have received a protest from parents against teaching industrial training.[44] The graduates of Tuskegee have established more than fifteen similar schools in the South.[45] Among those established are Voorhees Industrial School, Robert Hungerford School, Snow Hill Normal and Industrial Institute, Topeka Normal and Industrial Institute, Port Royal Agricultural School, and Mt. Meigs Institute.

No one of the Negro institutions for higher learning has as yet become a fully equipped university. No one of the institutions maintains a graduate school. Howard University is the only one that has even started graduate work.[46] The real influence of the college has been to prepare men to be leaders in education, as may be witnessed by the fact that out of the 5,000 Negro college graduates in the United States 54 per cent are teaching, while 20 per cent are preaching.[47] The following table shows the number of college graduates by decades:[48]

========+============+======+============ Year No. of Grads. Year No. of Grads. + -+ + - 1820-29 3 1870-79 313 1830-39 1880-89 738 1840-49 7 1892-99 1,126 1850-59 12 1900-09 1,610 1860-69 44 + + - Total 3,856 + -+ + -

The distribution of the college Negro is indicated in the following:[49]

Districts No. of Graduates

New England States 16 So-Northern Atlantic States 42 No-Southern Atlantic States 92 So-Southern Atlantic States 276 E-Northern Central States 61 W-Northern Central States 47 E-Southern Central States 141 W-Southern Central States 99 Rocky Mountain States 2 Basin and Plateau States 3 Pacific States 3 Outside U. S. 2 Unknown 18

Total 802

103 of these graduates were born in the North, 65 or 63 per cent of whom remained in the North and 35 or 34 per cent migrated to the South; 682 of these were born in the South, 102 or 15 per cent of whom went to the North, and 563 or 82.5 per cent remained in the South. This shows that the tendency of the college graduate is to remain in the South where he is most needed.

Of the graduates of 107 colleges which are not Negro institutions 79.2 per cent or 549 have been men, and 20.8 per cent or 144 have been women. Of 2,964 graduates of 34 Negro colleges, 82.7 per cent have been men and 17.3 have been women.[50] This difference may be due to a greater economic standard of the Negro in the North, since the colleges admitting Negroes which are not Negro institutions would be in the North, and to the fact that more Negroes would be located near educational institutions in the North than they would be in the South.

From another report the average age for the women graduates was 21-1/3 years, and the average for the men was 22-3/16 years. There seems to be a tendency of the age to increase, as shown by the following:[51]

1880-1890 the average age was 21 years for men and women. 1890-1900 the average age was 22 years for men and women. 1900-1910 the average age was 22-4/10 years for men and women.

Of the 24 graduates reported 16 were under 35, and one was over 50.

Of 799 graduates 67.3 per cent of the males were married, and 31.1 per cent of the females were married. Among these graduates there are only two cases of divorce, one man and one woman. The ages at which they married were for the men between 25 and 34 and for the women between 20 and 29. The families averaged four children. The death rate among the children has not equalled one child per family.[52]

Statistics taken in 1913 of 258 schools show the college students to be only 4.1 per cent of the entire number of Negroes in schools. If the college graduate were in proportion to the population their number would be about five times as great as it is at present.[53]

The Negroes have contributed in all lines to a large extent toward their own education. Since 1865 religious and philanthropic associations have contributed $57,000,000 and the Negroes by direct contributions have supplied $24,000,000.[54] In 1869 in one year the Negroes raised $200,000 for the construction of school houses. A report from a State Superintendent of Schools of Florida stated that in the Black Belt Counties the Negro schools cost $19,457 and the direct and indirect contributions on the part of the Negroes amounted to $23,984. There were $4,527 remaining which was used for the benefit of the white schools.[55] It is thought on the part of some that the Negro, although he may not pay in direct taxes a sum sufficient to provide for his schools, may in reality be paying his full share indirectly. I believe, however, that it is quite safe to say that he probably pays as much for his education as any other poor class of the population, especially so in comparison with some of the immigrant classes. There have also been quite a number of Negro philanthropists, the most prominent of whom have been Bishop Payne who gave several thousand dollars to Wilberforce, Wheeling Grant who gave $5,000 to Wilberforce, Mary E. Shaw who left $38,000 to Tuskegee, Nancy Addison who left $15,000 for education in Baltimore, Louis Bode who left $30,000 and George Washington of Jerseyville, Illinois, who left $15,000 for education. Thomy Lafon, of New Orleans, left $413,000 to be used for educational purposes with no distinction regarding race or color. Colonel John McKee, of Philadelphia, left about $1,000,000 in real estate to be used for education.[56] The Negro Baptist Churches alone raised in 1907 $149,332.75.[57] In nine years the Negro students paid in cash to 74 Negro institutions $3,358,667 and in work $1,828,602, making a total of $5,187,269. This amounted to 44.6 per cent of the entire running expenses of the institutions.[58]

The attitude of the Negro immediately after the war was that of opposition to all kinds of labor. He had not as then learned the distinction between working as a slave and working as a freedman. What he wanted most was an education, a literary education, such as the white man had. He did not want his education for any definite purpose, except as an end in itself. The chief reason probably may have been that of a desire to put himself on a par with the white man, and to prove his intellectual equality. The attitude to-day is radically different, being represented by men like Washington and DuBois. Washington preached the gospel of industrial education, believing strongly that that method would lead to an increase of the economic wealth of the race, whereby they could acquire the so-called higher education. DuBois, however, although he believed in the efficiency of industrial training, also felt that the race should not neglect to educate leaders even at the present time, so that his attitude differs from that of Washington in a slight degree. Two short quotations from Washington's writings may illustrate to a certain extent the attitude of the leaders of Negro education: "What Negro education needed most," said he, "was not so much more schools or different kinds of schools, as an educational policy and a school system,[59] and "I want to see education as common as grass, and as free for all as sunshine and rain.[60]

Prejudice is an important factor in the attitude of the white race toward Negro education. This prejudice seems to be in all sections of the country, but it is the southerner who is heard from the most, possibly because he is more in contact with the real problem and then because it seems to be a policy of southern politicians to attempt to outdo each other in their speeches along the line of race prejudice. According to Weatherford prejudice has arisen out of the fear that education will lead to the dominance of the Negro in politics and to promiscuous mingling in social life. "The southern white man will never be enthusiastic for Negro education, until he is convinced that such education will not lead to either of these."[61] This feeling of a group is expressed in the following statement in a report to the Baltimore Council by a committee in 1913: "No fault is found with the Negroes' ambitions," said the report, "but the Committee feels that Baltimoreans will be criminally negligent as to their future happiness, if they suffer the Negroes' ambitions to go unchecked."[62] Mr. Thomas Dixon, Junior, deplores the fact that Washington was training the Negroes to be "masters of men," stating that "if there is one thing the southern white man cannot endure it is an educated Negro."[63]

School officials and educators on the other hand show an entirely different attitude. Mr. Glenn, recently Superintendent of Education of Georgia, made the declaration that "The Negro is ... teachable and susceptible to the same kind of mental improvement characteristic to any other race."[64] Thomas Nelson Page states that "the Negro may individually attain a fair and in uncommon instances a considerable degree of mental development."[65] Another states that "We must educate him because ignorant men are dangerous, especially to a democracy pledged to educate all men."[66] Some believe that we must also educate him for self-protection from vice and disease. The Southern Educational Association in 1907 passed the following resolution: "We endorse the accepted policy of the States of the South in providing educational facilities for the youth of the Negro race, believing that whatever the ultimate solution of this grievous problem may be, education must be an important factor in that solution."[67]

Illiteracy which in 1863 equaled about 95 per cent of the Negro population has been decreasing rapidly since the Civil War. The illiteracy of the Negro during the last three decades has been as follows: in 1890, 57.1 per cent; in 1900, 44.5 per cent; and in 1910, 30.4 per cent. In the North in 1910 the illiteracy was 18.2 per cent in the South 48.0 per cent, and in the West 13.1 per cent.[68] The urban Negro in 1910 showed 17.6 per cent illiteracy and the rural 36.5 per cent. Louisiana showed 48 per cent, whereas Minnesota and Oregon showed only 3.4 per cent.[69] In 1900 when the Negro illiteracy was 44.5 per cent, the children between ten and twenty-five years of age showed only 30 per cent and those between 10 and 14 years in Mississippi showed only 22 per cent.[70] The illiteracy for all Negro children was 25 per cent, whereas the illiteracy for all white children was only 10.5 per cent.[71] The illiteracy of our Negroes does not seem so great when a comparison is made with some foreign countries:[72]

Race Illiteracy

Negroes 30.4 Bulgaria 65.5 Greece 57.2 Hungary 40.9 Italy 48.2 Poland 59.3 Portugal 73.4 Russia 70.0 Servia 78.9 Spain 58.7 Chile 49.9 Cuba 56.8 Mexico 75.3 Porto Rico 79.6 India 92.5 Philippines 55.5 Cape of Good Hope 65.8 Egypt 92.7

The percentage of Negro illiteracy in America is less than any one of these foreign races.

The criminality of the Negro seemingly has decreased as the illiteracy has decreased. Out of every 100 criminals only 39 could read and 61 could not, whereas in the general population 43 could read and 57 could not.[73] In the Mississippi penitentiary where they had 450 convicts of Negro blood one half of them could neither read nor write, and less than 10 per cent had anything like a fair education.[74] Atlanta University has graduated 800 Negro men and women, not one of whom has ever been convicted of crime. Fisk University has only one graduate who has ever been convicted. Greensboro Agricultural and Technical College has had 2,000 students since its establishment, and only five have ever been convicted of crime. Two of these had been expelled students, and none were among the three hundred graduates of the college. Negro students who have gone to high school show a remarkably low percentage of crime. Of the 200 graduates from the Winston-Salem High School (North Carolina) only one has a criminal record. Waters Normal Institute at Winton, North Carolina, has graduated more than 130 students and not one of these has ever been arrested or convicted of any crime.[75] The records of the southern prisons show that at least 90 per cent of those in prison are without trades of any sort.[76] According to Booker T. Washington, "Manual training is as good a prevention of criminality as vaccination is of smallpox."[77] In 1903, in Gloucester County, Virginia, twenty-five years after education had been introduced, there were 30 arrests for misdemeanors, 16 white and 14 black; and in the next year there were 15 arrests for misdemeanors, 14 white and one black.[78] The general opinion of the southerner may be judged by the answers to a questionnaire sent out to prominent southern men in each of the Southern States. To the question "Does crime grow less as education increases?" there were 102, answered "yes" and 19 answered "no."[79]

One of the charges against the Negro has been his shiftlessness, both as far as his personal industriousness is concerned, and as far as the care of his home and things about him. Now, however, education has increased his standards and his wants, so that since he desires to have land, homes, churches, books, papers, and education for his children, he will labor regularly and efficiently to supply these. The graduates of Tuskegee Institute are kept in touch with by one of the school officials, who reported that not 10 per cent could be found in idleness and that only one was in a penitentiary.[80]



[1] In the preparation of this manuscript the following books have been useful: Thomas P. Bailey, Race Orthodoxy in the South (New York: the Neale Publishing Company, 1914); Benjamin Griffith Brawley, A Short History of the American Negro (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1913); Daniel Wallace Culp, Twentieth Century Negro Literature (Naperville, Illinois, J. L. Nichols and Company, 1902); Albert Bushnell Hart, The Southern South (New York, D. Appleton and Company, 1912); Mary White Ovington, Half a Man (New York and London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1911); William Passmore Pickett, The Negro Problem (New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1909); Charles Victor Roman, American Civilization and the Negro (Philadelphia: F. A. Davis Company, 1916); Gilbert Thomas Stephenson, Race Distinctions in American Law (New York and London: D. Appleton and Company, 1910); Booker T. Washington, My Larger Education (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1911); Booker T. Washington, Working with the Hands (New York: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1904); Booker T. Washington and W. E. Burghardt Du Bois, The Negro in the South (Philadelphia: G. W. Jacobs and Company, 1907); Booker T. Washington and others, The Negro Problem (New York: J. Pott and Company, 1903); Willis Duke Weatherford, Negro Life in the South (New York: Young Men's Christian Association Press, 1910); Carter Godwin Woodson, The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 (New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1915).

The following articles have also been used: Henry E. Baker, The Negro in the Field of Invention (Journal of Negro History, January, 1917, p. 21); W. H. Baldwin, Jr., The Present Problem of Negro Education (American Journal of Social Science, 37, 1899, p. 52); W. E. Burghardt DuBois, The College Bred Negro (Atlanta University Publications, No. 15, Atlanta, 1910); The Common School and the Negro American (Atlanta University Publications, No. 16, 1911); The School (Atlanta University Publications, No. 14, 1909); Education and Crime Among Negroes (Review of Reviews, 55, 1917, p. 318); Hampton Negro Conference, Annual Report, July, 1899 (Hampton Institute Press, 1889); Higher Education of the Negro (The Nation, 100, 1915, p. 187); George Johnson, Education of the Negro (The Nation, 100, 1915, p. 443); Jesse Lawson, How to Solve the Race Problem (Report of the Washington Conference on the Race Problem in the United States, Washington, D. C., 1904); William Mathews, The Negro Intellect (North American Review, 149, 1889, p. 91); More Testimony on Negro Migration (Survey, July 14, 1917, p. 340); National League on Urban Conditions Among Negroes, Bulletin, Vol. V, No. 1, November, 1915; Michael E. Sadler, Education of the Colored Race (Great Britain Educational Department, Special Reports of, 1902, Volume II); Charles Dudley Warner, The Education of the Negro (American Journal of Social Science, 38, 1900, p. 1); Booker T. Washington, Fifty Years of Progress (Forum 55, 1916, pp. 269-79); Monroe N. Work, The Negro Year Book (Nashville, Sunday School Union Print, 1915).

[2] Woodson, The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861, p. 24.

[3] Brawley, History of the Negro, p. 104; Du Bois, Atlanta U. Pub. No. 16, p. 16.

[4] Brawley, History of the Negro, p. 104.

[5] Washington, My Larger Education, p. 241.

[6] Sadler, Gr. Britain Edu. Reports, p. 537.

[7] Du Bois, Atlanta U. Pub. No. 16, p. 16.

[8] Weatherford, Negro Life in the South, p. 94.

[9] Brawley, History of the Negro, p. 103.

[10] Ibid., p. 102.

[11] Du Bois, Atlanta U. Pub. No. 16, p. 21.

[12] Brawley, History of the Negro, p. 135.

[13] Ibid., 137.

[14] Weatherford, Negro Life in the South, p. 94.

[15] Work, Negro Yearbook, 1915, p. 201.

[16] Brawley, History of the Negro, p. 139.

[17] Ibid., p. 141.

[18] Ibid., p. 168.

[19] Ibid., p. 140.

[20] Du Bois, Atlanta U. Pub. No. 16, p. 22.

[21] Washington, The Negro Problem, p. 19.

[22] Stephenson, Race Distinction in American Law, p. 189.

[23] Ibid., p. 154.

[24] Du Bois, Atlanta U. Pub. No. 16, p. 20.

[25] Ibid., p. 27.

[26] Hart, The Southern South, p. 310.

[27] Weatherford, Negro Life in the South, p. 96.

[28] Weatherford, Negro Life in the South, p. 108.

[29] Ibid., p. 96.

[30] Work, Negro Yearbook, 1915, p. 223.

[31] Baily, Race Orthodoxy, pp. 273-280.

[32] Hart, Southern South, p. 324.

[33] Weatherford, Negro Life in the South, p. 98.

[34] Hart, Southern South, p. 294.

[35] Washington, My Larger Education, p. 191.

[36] Ibid., p. 152.

[37] Ibid., p. 146.

[38] Du Bois, Atlanta U. Pub. No. 16, p. 127.

[39] Work, The Negro Yearbook, 1915, p. 216.

[40] Du Bois, Atlanta U. Pub. No. 16, p. 129.

[41] DuBois, Atlanta U. Pub. No. 16, p. 128.

[42] Brawley, The Negro Yearbook, 1915, p. 147

[43] Washington, The Negro Problem, p. 20.

[44] Ibid., p. 22.

[45] Brawley, History of the Negro, p. 153.

[46] Ibid., p. 142.

[47] Brawley, History of the Negro, p. 145.

[48] Du Bois, Atlanta U. Pub. No. 15, p. 45.

[49] Ibid., p. 54.

[50] Du Bois, Atlanta U. Pub. No. 15, p. 46.

[51] Ibid., p. 28.

[52] Ibid., p. 57.

[53] Work, The Negro Yearbook, 1915, p. 229.

[54] Work, The Negro Yearbook, p. 235

[55] Washington, Working with the Hands, p. 72.

[56] Brawley, History of the Negro, p. 174.

[57] Ibid., p. 169.

[58] Du Bois, Atlanta U. Pub. No. 14, p. 18.

[59] Washington, My Larger Education, p. 310.

[60] Ibid., p. 139.

[61] Weatherford, Negro Life in the South, p. 87.

[62] Bailey, Race Orthodoxy in the South, p. 265.

[63] Hart, The Southern South, p. 319.

[64] Ibid., p. 326.

[65] Ibid., p. 327.

[66] Bailey, Race Orthodoxy in the South, p. 269.

[67] Hart, The Southern South, p. 327.

[68] Work, Negro Yearbook, 1915, p. 226.

[69] Ibid., p. 226.

[70] Hart, The Southern South, p. 294.

[71] Ibid., p. 292.

[72] Washington in the Forum, p. 270.

[73] Review of Reviews, p. 318.

[74] Review of Reviews, p. 319.

[75] Ibid., p. 319.

[76] Weatherford, Negro Life in the South, p. 110.

[77] Washington and Du Bois, The Negro in the South, p. 64.

[78] Ibid., p. 71.

[79] Washington, Working with the Hands, p. 239.

[80] Washington and Du Bois, The Negro in the South, p. 61.


When President Fillmore signed the Fugitive Slave Bill[1] on September 18, 1850, he started a Negro migration that continued up to the opening of the Civil War, resulting in thousands of people of color crossing over into Canada and causing many thousands more to move from one State into another seeking safety from their pursuers. While the free Negro population of the North increased by nearly 30,000 in the decade after 1850, the gain was chiefly in three States, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois. Connecticut had fewer free people of color in 1860 than in 1850 and there were half a dozen other States that barely held their own during the period. The three States showing gains were those bordering on Canada where the runaway slave or the free man of color in danger could flee when threatened. It is estimated that from fifteen to twenty thousand Negroes entered Canada between 1850 and 1860, increasing the Negro population of the British provinces from about 40,000 to nearly 60,000. The greater part of the refugee population settled in the southwestern part of the present province of Ontario, chiefly in what now comprises the counties of Essex and Kent, bordering on the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair. This large migration of an alien race into a country more sparsely settled than any of the Northern States might have been expected to cause trouble, but records show that the Canadians received the refugees with kindness and gave them what help they could.[2] At the close of the Civil War many of the Negroes in exile returned, thus relieving the situation in Canada.

The Fugitive Slave Bill had been signed but a month when Garrison pointed out in The Liberator that a northward trek of free people of color was already under way. "Alarmed at the operation of the new Fugitive Slave Law, the fugitives from slavery are pressing northward. Many have been obliged to flee precipitately leaving behind them all the little they have acquired since they escaped from slavery."[3] The American Anti-Slavery Society's report also notes the consternation into which the Negro population was thrown by the new legislation[4] and from many other contemporary sources there may be obtained information showing the distressing results that followed immediately upon the signing of the bill. Reports of the large number of new arrivals were soon coming from Canada. Hiram Wilson, a missionary at St. Catharines, writing in The Liberator of December 13, 1850, says: "Probably not less than 3,000 have taken refuge in this country since the first of September. Only for the attitude of the north there would have been thousands more." He says that his church is thronged with fugitives and that what is true of his own district is true also of other parts of southern Ontario. Henry Bibb, in his paper The Voice of the Fugitive[5] published frequent reports of the number of fugitives arriving at Sandwich on the Detroit River. In the issue of December 3,1851, he reports 17 arrivals in a week. On April 22, 1852, he records 15 arrivals within the last few days and notes that "the Underground Railroad is doing good business this spring." On May 20, 1852, he reports "quite an accession of refugees to our numbers during the last two weeks" and on June 17 notes the visit of agents from Chester, Pennsylvania, preparatory to the movement of a large number of people of color from that place to Canada. On the same date he says: "Numbers of free persons of color are arriving in Canada from Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, Ohio and Indiana. Sixteen passed by Windsor on the seventh and 20 on the eighth and the cry is 'Still they come.'" The immigration was increasing week by week, for on July 1 it was reported in The Voice of the Fugitive that "in a single day last week there were not less than 65 colored emigrants landed at this place from the south.... As far as we can learn not less than 200 have arrived within our vicinity since last issue." Almost every number of the paper during 1852 gives figures as to the arrivals of the refugees. On September 23 Bibb reported the arrival of three of his own brothers while on November 4, 1852, there is recorded the arrival of 23 men, women and children in 48 hours. Writing to The Liberator of November 12, 1852, Mary E. Bibb said that during the last ten days they had sheltered 23 arrivals in their own home. The American Missionary Association, which had workers among the fugitives in Canada noted in its annual report for 1852 that there had been a large increase of the Negro population during the year[6] while further testimony to the great activity along the border is given by the statement that the Vigilance Committee at Detroit assisted 1,200 refugees in one year and that the Cleveland Vigilance Committee had a record of assisting more than a hundred a month to freedom.[7]

The northern newspapers of the period supply abundant information regarding the consternation into which the Negroes were thrown and their movements to find places of safety. Two weeks after President Fillmore had signed the Fugitive Slave Bill a Pittsburgh despatch to The Liberator stated that "nearly all the waiters in the hotels have fled to Canada. Sunday 30 fled; on Monday 40; on Tuesday 50; on Wednesday 30 and up to this time the number that has left will not fall short of 300. They went in large bodies, armed with pistols and bowie knives, determined to die rather than be captured."[8] A Hartford despatch of October 18, 1850, told of five Negroes leaving that place for Canada;[9] Utica reported under date of October 2 that 16 fugitive slaves passed through on a boat the day before, bound for Canada, all well armed and determined to fight to the last;[10] The Eastport Sentinel of March 12 noted that a dozen fugitives had touched there on the steamer Admiral, en route to St. John's; The New Bedford Mercury said: "We are pleased to announce that a very large number of fugitive slaves, aided by many of our most wealthy and respected citizens have left for Canada and parts unknown and that many more are on the point of departure."[11] The Concord, New Hampshire, Statesman reported: "Last Tuesday seven fugitives from slavery passed through this place ... and they probably reached Canada in safety on Wednesday last. Scarcely a day passes but more or less fugitives escape from the land of slavery to the freedom of Canada ... via this place over the track of the Northern Railroad."[12]

Many other examples of the effect of the Fugitive Slave Act might be noted. The Negro population of Columbia, Pennsylvania, dropped from 943 to 487 after the passing of the bill.[13] The members of the Negro community near Sandy Lake in northwestern Pennsylvania, many of whom had farms partly paid for, sold out or gave away their property and went in a body to Canada.[14] In Boston a fugitive slave congregation under Leonard A. Grimes had a church built when the blow fell. More than forty members fled to Canada.[15] Out of one Baptist church in Buffalo more than 130 members fled across the border, a similar migration taking place among the Negro Methodists of the same city though they were more disposed to make a stand. At Rochester all but two of the 114 members of the Negro Baptist church fled, headed by their pastor, while at Detroit the Negro Baptist church lost 84 members, some of whom abandoned their property in haste to get away.[16] A letter from William Still, agent of the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee, to Henry Bibb at Sandwich says there is much talk of emigration to Canada as the best course for the fugitives.[17] The Corning Journal illustrates the aid that was given to the fugitives by northern friends. Fifteen fugitives, men, women and children, came in by train and stopped over night. In the morning a number of Corning people assisted them to Dunkirk and sent a committee to arrange for passage to Canada. The captain of the lake steamer upon which they embarked, very obligingly stopped at Fort Maiden, on the Canadian side, for wood and water and the runaways walked ashore to freedom. "The underground railroad is in fine working order," is the comment of The Journal. "Rarely does a collision occur, and once on the track passengers are sent through between sunrise and sunset." That time did not dull the terrors of the Fugitive Slave Act is shown by the fact that every fresh arrest would cause a panic in its neighborhood. At Chicago in 1861, almost on the eve of the Civil War, more than 100 Negroes left on a single train following the arrest of a fugitive, taking nothing with them but the clothes on their backs and most of them leaving good situations behind."[18]

The Underground Railroad system was never so successful in all its history as after 1850. Despite the law, and the infamous activities of many of the slave-catchers, at least 3,000 fugitives got through to Canada within three months after the bill was signed. This was the estimate of both Henry Bibb and Hiram Wilson and there were probably no men in Canada who were better acquainted with the situation than these two. In The Voice of the Fugitive of November 5, 1851, Bibb reported that "the road is doing better business this fall than usual. The Fugitive Slave Law has given it more vitality, more activity, more passengers and more opposition which invariably accelerates business.... We can run a lot of slaves through from almost any of the bordering slave states into Canada within 48 hours and we defy the slaveholders and their abettors to beat that if they can.... We have just received a fresh lot today and still there is room." The Troy Argus learned from "official sources" in 1859 that the Underground Railroad had been doing an unusually large business that year.[19] Bibb's newspaper reports, December 2, 1852, that the underground is working well. "Slaveholders are frequently seen and heard, howling on their track up to the Detroit River's edge but dare not venture over lest the British lion should lay his paw upon their guilty heads." Bibb kept a watchful eye on slave-catchers coming to the Canadian border and occasionally reported their presence in his paper. Underground activity was also noted in The Liberator. "The underground railroad and especially the express train, is doing a good business just now. We have good and competent conductors," was a statement in the issue of October 29, 1852.[20]

Not all those who fled to Canada left their property behind. The Voice of the Fugitive makes frequent reference to Negroes arriving with plenty of means to take care of themselves. "Men of capital with good property, some of whom are worth thousands, are settling among us from the northern states." says the issue of October 22, 1851, while in the issue of July 1, 1852, it is noted that "22 from Indiana passed through to Amherstburg, with four fine covered waggons and eight horses. A few weeks ago six or eight such teams came from the same state into Canada. The Fugitive Slave Law is driving out brains and money." In a later issue it was stated "we know of several families of free people of color who have moved here from the northern states this summer who have brought with them property to the amount of L30,000."[21] Some of these people with property joined the Elgin Association settlement at Buxton, purchasing farms and taking advantage of the opportunities that were provided there for education. A letter to The Voice of the Fugitive from Ezekiel C. Cooper, recently arrived at Buxton, says: "Canada is the place where we have our rights."[22] He speaks of having purchased 50 acres of land and praises the school and its teacher at Buxton. Cooper came from Northampton, Massachusetts, driven out by the Fugitive Slave Law. A rather unusual case was that of 12 manumitted slaves who were brought to Canada from the South. They had been bequeathed $1,000 each by their former owner. They all bought homes in the Niagara district.[23]

While fugitives and free Negroes were being harried in the Northern States slaves continued to run away from their masters and seek liberty. "Slaves are making this a great season for running off to Pennsylvania," said the Cumberland, Virginia, Unionist in 1851.[24] "A large number have gone in the last week, most of whom were not recaptured." At the beginning of 1851 The Liberator had a Buffalo despatch to the effect that 87 runaways from the South had passed through to Canada since the passing of the bill the previous September.[25] Bibb mentions two runaways from North Carolina who were 101 days reaching Canada.[26] The Detroit Free Press reported that 29 runaways crossed to Canada about the end of March, 1859, "the first installment of northern emigration from North Carolina."[27] About the same time The Detroit Advertiser announced that "seventy fugitive slaves arrived in Canada by one train from the interior of Tennessee. A week before a company of 12 arrived. At nearly the same time a party of seven and another of five were safely landed on the free soil of Canada, making 94 in all. The underground railroad was never before doing so flourishing a business."[28] The New Orleans Commercial Bulletin of December 19, 1860, asserted that 1,500 slaves had escaped annually for the last fifty years, a loss to the South of at least $40,000,000. The American Anti-Slavery Society's twenty-seventh report said "Northward migration from slave land during the last year has fully equalled the average of former years."[29]

It is interesting to note that several of the most famous cases that arose under the Fugitive Slave Act had their ending in Canada. Shadrack, Anthony Burns, Jerry McHenry, the Parkers, the Lemmon slaves and others found refuge across the border after experiencing the terrors of the Fugitive Slave legislation. The Shadrack incident was one of the earliest to arise under the new law. Shadrack, a Negro employe in a Boston coffee house, was arrested on February 15, 1851, on the charge of having escaped from slavery in the previous May. As the commissioner before whom he was brought was not ready to proceed, the case was adjourned for three days. As Massachusetts had forbidden the use of her jails in fugitive cases Shadrack was detained in the United States court room at the court house. A mob of people of color broke into the building, rescued the prisoner and he escaped to Canada. The rescue caused great excitement at Washington and five of the rescuers were indicted and tried but the jury disagreed. The incident showed that the new law would be enforced with difficulty in Massachusetts in view of the fact that the mob had been supported by a Vigilance Committee of most respectable citizens.[30]

A few months later, at Syracuse, a respectable man of color named Jerry McHenry was arrested as a fugitive on the complaint of a slaver from Missouri. He made an attempt to escape and failed. The town, however, was crowded with people who had come to a meeting of the County Agricultural Society and to attend the annual convention of the Liberty Party. On the evening of October 1, 1851, a descent was made upon the jail by a party led by Gerrit Smith and Rev. Samuel J. May, both well-known abolitionists. The Negro was rescued, concealed for a few days and then sent on to Canada where he died, at Kingston, in 1853.[31]

A more tragic incident was that known as the Gorsuch case. A slaver named Gorsuch, with his son and some others, all armed, came to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in search of two fugitives. In a house two miles from Lancaster was a Negro family named Parker and they were besieged by the Gorsuchs. The Negroes blew a horn and brought others to their help. Two Quakers who were present were called upon to render help in arresting the Negroes, as they were required to do under the Act, but they refused to aid. In the fighting that took place the elder Gorsuch was killed and his son wounded. The Negroes escaped to Canada where they spent the winter in Toronto and in the spring joined the Elgin Association settlement at Buxton in Kent county.[32]

The Anthony Burns case attracted more attention than any other arising in the execution of the Fugitive Slave Law. Burns, who was a fugitive from Virginia living in Boston, betrayed his hiding place in a letter which fell into the hands of a southern slaver and was communicated to a slave hunter. The slaver tried to coax Burns to go back to bondage peaceably but failing in this he had him arrested and brought before a commissioner who, on June 2, 1854, decided that Burns was a fugitive and must be sent back to slavery. Boston showed its feelings on the day that the Negro was removed from jail to be sent South. Stores were closed and draped in black, bells tolled, and across State Street a coffin was suspended bearing the legend THE DEATH OF LIBERTY. The streets were crowded and a large military force, with a field piece in front, furnished escort for the lone black. Hisses and cries of " shame" came from the crowd as the procession passed. Burns was soon released from bondage, Boston people and others subscribing to purchase his liberty. He was brought North, educated and later entered the ministry. For several years he was a missionary at St. Catharines, Canada, and died there in the sixties.[33]

Along the international boundary there were exciting incidents at times, fugitives being chased to the border and often having narrow escapes from recapture. The Monroe family, mother and several daughters, escaped from slavery in Kentucky in 1856 and were carried by the Underground Railroad to Ann Arbor and on to Detroit, the master in hot pursuit. So close was the chase that as the runaways pulled out from the wharf on the ferry for Windsor, Canada, the master came running down the street crying out "Stop them! stop them!" He was jeered at by the crowd which sympathized with the Negro woman.[34]

In June, 1852, three fugitives arrived in Detroit and in response to frantic messages from Toledo were held for their pursuers. In desperation the Negroes made a savage attack on their jailer, gained their freedom and got across the border with the assistance of friends in Detroit. Rewards that were offered for their recapture were useless as the fugitives took care to remain on the Canadian side.[35]

Hiram Wilson tells of an incident that came under his notice at St. Catharines. A beautiful young girl, 14 years of age and almost white, was brought to Buffalo as maid for a slaveholder's daughter travelling in the North. She was spirited off by some Buffalo abolitionists, transferred to a steamer flying the British flag, and landed in Canada. She was taken to St. Catharines and sheltered in the home of Hiram Wilson. The master came over from Buffalo bringing a couple of lawyers with him and tried to secure his property but his demands were refused. The owner claimed that he valued the girl at $1,000. It was later discovered that she had been sold no less than four times before coming to Canada.[36]

The brutality of the Fugitive Slave Law was shown on more than one occasion along the border. A case that attracted much attention at the time was that of Daniel Davis. He was cook on the steamer Buckeye. One day while the vessel was in port at Buffalo he was called up from below. As his head appeared above the deck he was struck a heavy blow by a slave catcher named Benjamin Rust who had a warrant from a United States commissioner for his arrest. The Negro fell back senseless into the hold and on top of a stove, being badly burned. He was brought into court at once and the newspaper accounts relate in detail how he sat during the proceedings "dozing, with blood oozing out of his mouth and nostrils." After a trial that was rushed in a most unseemly way the Negro was ordered delivered over to Rust, who was really agent for one George H. Moore, of Louisville. The brutality of the whole proceeding stirred up deep interest in Buffalo and on a writ of habeas corpus the fugitive was brought before Judge Conkling of the United States Court at Auburn and released. Before there could be further steps taken to hold the Negro he was hurried into Canada, where he remained. He was in attendance at the large Negro Convention held in Toronto in September, 1851, and with his head still in bandages afforded striking evidence of the effects of the Slave Law. Rust, Davis's assailant, was afterwards indicted at Buffalo but allowed to go after paying a paltry $50 fine.[37]

Another memorable border incident occurred at Sandusky, Ohio, in October, 1852. A party of fugitives, two men, two women and several children had been brought from Kentucky and were aboard the steamer Arrow about to sail for Detroit when they were all arrested by the alleged owner and taken before the mayor of the town. Rush R. Sloane, a local lawyer, offered to act in their defence. The proceedings were so hurried that no warrant or writ was ready to be produced in court and Sloane signified by a gesture that the Negroes were free. There was an immediate rush for the door on the part of the fugitives and their friends, but even as they fled from the court room the claimant entered calling out: "Here are the papers. I own the slaves. I'll hold you personally responsible for their escape." The fugitives meanwhile had gone to the harbor, entered a sailboat owned by friendly fishermen and were on their way to Canada. The slaver, frantic at seeing his property vanishing, tried in vain to get other fishermen to pursue them. He then hurried to a neighboring town, trying to secure help, but with no more success. Within a few hours the runaways were landed at Port Stanley, safe from all pursuers. The slaver made good his threat to hold Sloane responsible for the loss of his property, entering action and securing a judgment for $3,000. It is related as one of the pathetic incidents of this case that when the fugitives were first taken off the steamer Arrow one of the women dropped her infant child on the ground and disowned it, hoping that it at least would be free if she were condemned to return to slavery.[38]

With so great an influx of refugees into a country that was sparsely settled, some suffering was inevitable, but contemporary evidence indicates that after all it was but slight. There was probably more distress during the winter of 1850-1 than later on because of the large number who came in during the few months immediately after the passing of the Fugitive Slave Bill. In their haste to find safety many left everything behind, entering Canada with little more than the clothes on their backs. A. L. Power, of Farmington, who visited Windsor at the beginning of 1851, found about a score of families living in an old military barracks, most of them in need of both fuel and clothing. At Sandwich, near by, he also found distress and mentions seeing a family of eight children who were almost nude and who were suffering from the cold.[39] Sickness was, in many cases, a result of the exposure to which the Negroes had been subjected in their effort to reach Canada. Later on, the situation improved and by 1855 the workers of the American Missionary Association reported that "in general, those who have gone there from the United States, even the fugitives, may provide for the wants of their families, after a short residence there; especially if they meet a friendly hand and, more than all, good counsel on their arrival."[40]

Various agencies in both the United States and Canada were active in the work of relieving the distress among the newcomers. The American Anti-Slavery Society early addressed itself to this task. "Several agents," said Bibb, "have during the past year proceeded to Canada to exert the best influence in their power over the fugitives that have flocked to the province in years past and especially those who have gone the past year. They are supplied with the means of instructing the colored population, clothing some of the most destitute fugitives and aiding them in various ways to obtain employment, procure and cultivate land and train up their children. Our friends in Canada are exerting a good influence in the same direction."[41]

The fugitives themselves were banded together to aid the newcomers. The Windsor Anti-Slavery Society and the Fugitives' Union were both organized to relieve distress and assist their fellows in making a living.[42] Supplies were sent in from points at considerable distances in some cases, clothing, food, money, and in one case a donation of 2,000 fruit trees from Henry Willis, of Battle Creek, for refugees who were going on the land.[43] Michigan people were exceedingly generous in extending aid and there is record also of supplies sent from Fall River, Whitestown, New Jersey, Boston and other places in New England. There was plenty of work for the Negroes, the fifties being a period of railroad building in western Ontario, so that writing in 1861, William Troy maintained, that nine tenths of the fugitives had got along without outside aid of any kind. "The fugitives show a marked disposition to help each other and relieve want," he says. "I could show hundreds of instances of kindheartedness to all persons, irrespective of race."[44]

The organization of the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada came largely as a result of the sudden influx of Negroes after 1850 which, perhaps more than anything else, impressed upon Canadians the great issue that was rapidly dividing the neighboring republic. Beginning at Toronto the anti-slavery forces in Canada were organized in the various cities and towns of the province and continued active until the Civil War. There was developed in Canada a marked anti-slavery sentiment which manifested itself in part in the very large number of Canadians who enlisted in the northern armies.[45] The Anti-Slavery Society was also active in extending the helping hand to the fugitives, considerable sums being raised for relief purposes and support being given to educational and other movements designed to elevate the race.

In Canada the refugees were absolutely safe from the operations of the Fugitive Slave Law. No loophole could be found in the Canadian law that would permit the rendition of a slave. A famous case arose in the Canadian courts on the eve of the Civil War when a Negro, John Anderson, was arrested charged with the murder of a slaver named Diggs some years before, the crime having been committed while Anderson was trying to make his escape from slavery. Canadian opinion was much aroused and though the first decision of the courts was that the Negro must be extradited this finding was overruled from England and in the end the prisoner was released on a technicality. It was made quite clear that the British Government would view with marked disapproval any decision in Canada that would return a refugee to slavery.

There were doubtless numerous attempts to kidnap Negroes who had escaped to Canada, especially in the border towns, but such attempts must have been rarely successful. An open attempt to induce a Canadian official to act as slave catcher was exposed in the Montreal Gazette of January 13, 1855, when there was published a letter written by one, John H. Pape, of Frederick, Maryland, to Sheriff Hays, of Montreal, proposing that the latter should use his power to arrest Negroes who would then be turned over to Pape. The proceeds from the sale of the captured chattels would be divided evenly, according to the plan suggested.

Canadians took a measure of pride in the sense of security with which their Negro immigrants could look back at their pursuers. That the slavery issue in the United States was rapidly coming to a head was also recognized in Canada during the fifties and this, too, may have been an influence with the Canadians in doing what they could to assist the great number of more or less helpless people who came among them. Viewed in the light of more than half a century it can be seen that the influence of Canada in determining the course of the slavery issue was by no means slight.



[1] "One of the most assailable laws ever passed by the Congress of the United States ... Under this act ... the Negro had no chance; the meshes of the law were artfully contrived to aid the master and entrap the slave." Rhodes, History of the United States, I, 185.

[2] "A large proportion of the colored persons who have fled from the free states have sought refuge in Canada where they have been received with remarkable kindness and have testified the grateful sense of their reception by their exemplary conduct." American Anti-slavery Society, annual report for 1851, p. 31.

[3] Liberator, October 18, 1850.

[4] Annual report for 1851, p. 30.

[5] A file of this paper for 1851 and 1852 is in the library of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

[6] American Missionary Association, Sixth Annual Report, 1852, p. 34.

[7] Mitchell, Underground Railroad, p. 113.

[8] Liberator, October 4, 1850.

[9] Ibid., October 18, 1850.

[10] Ibid., October 4, 1850.

[11] Ibid., April 25, 1851.

[12] Ibid., May 2, 1851.

[13] Siebert, Underground Railroad, p. 249.

[14] Ibid., p. 249.

[15] Stevens, Anthony Burns, a History, p. 208.

[16] American Anti-slavery Society, Eleventh Annual Report, 1851, p. 31.

[17] The Voice of the Fugitive, April 9, 1851.

[18] Cong. Herald, May 13, 1861, quoted in American Missionary Association, 15th annual report, 1861, p. 28. There is evidence that the Fugitive Slave Law was used in some cases to strike fear into the hearts of Negroes in order to cause them to abandon their property. The Liberator of October 25, 1850, quotes the Detroit Free Press to the effect that land speculators have been scaring the Negroes in some places in the north in order to get possession of their properties.

[19] American Anti-slavery Society, Twenty-seventh Annual Report, 1861, p. 49.

[20] In The Liberator of July 30, 1852, a letter from Hiram Wilson, at St. Catharines, says: "Arrivals from slavery are frequent."

[21] The Voice of the Fugitive, July 29, 1852.

[22] Ibid., July 1, 1852.

[23] St. Catharine's Journal, quoted in The Voice of the Fugitive, September 23, 1852.

[24] Quoted in The Liberator, September 12, 1851.

[25] Liberator, February 14, 1851.

[26] The Voice of the Fugitive, August 27, 1851.

[27] Quoted in American Anti-slavery Society, Twenty-seventh Report, 1861.

[28] American Anti-slavery Society, Twenty-seventh Annual Report, 1861, pp. 48-49.

[29] P. 157.

[30] Rhodes, History of the United States, I, 210.

[31] Ibid., I, 224-25. See also Ward, Autobiography of a Fugitive Negro, p. 127.

[32] Ibid., I, 222-23. See also The Voice of the Fugitive, June 3 and July 1, 1852.

[33] Schauler, History of the United States, V, 290-291.

[34] Troy, Hairbreadth Escapes, pp. 39-43.

[35] Liberator, June 11, 1852. See also The Voice of the Fugitive, June 17, 1852.

[36] Ibid., July 30, 1852.

[37] Liberator, Sept. 12, 1851; The Voice of the Fugitive, Sept. 24, 1851; Anti-slavery Tracts, New Series, No. 15, p. 19.

[38] Sandusky Commercial Register, Oct. 21, 1852; Liberator, Oct. 29, 1852; Anti-slavery Tracts, New Series, No. 15, p. 24.

[39] The Voice of the Fugitive, February 12, 1851.

[40] Ninth Annual Report, N. Y., 1855, p. 47

[41] American Anti-slavery Society, Eleventh Annual Report, 1851, p. 100.

[42] The Voice of the Fugitive of January 15, 1851, and November 18, 1852.

[43] Ibid., January 1 and May 20, 1852.

[44] Troy, Hair-breadth Escapes, pp. 108 and 122.

[45] "The Canadian government reckoned that there had been not less than 40,000 Canadian enlistments in the American Army during the Civil War."—Goldwin Smith's Correspondence (letter to Moberly Bell), p. 377.


Richard Hill, one of Jamaica's most famous sons, was born at Montego Bay on the first of May, 1795. In 1779 his father, also named Richard, came to Jamaica from Lincolnshire, where the family had lived for several centuries, and along with a brother settled at Montego Bay. There he became a substantial merchant, and on his death in 1818 left his property in Jamaica to his son and two daughters, Ann and Jane. Hill's mother, who had East Indian as well as Negro blood in her veins, survived her husband many years, her son being constant in his attention to her up to the last.

At the early age of five Hill was sent to England to reside with his father's relations then living at Cheshunt, there to remain till his fourteenth year when he was sent to the Elizabethan Grammar School at Horncastle to finish his education. Upon the death of his father in 1818 Hill returned to Jamaica. Although his property came into the possession of his son and two daughters the father's death in some way involved Richard Hill in irksome money obligations which harassed him for many years, and even after he had discharged them left a gloom over his life.

His father was a man in advance of his times, hating and deploring the intolerance and the tyranny that grew out of slavery as it then existed in Jamaica. On his death-bed he made his son solemnly pledge himself to devote his energies to the cause of freedom, and never to rest until those civil disabilities, under which the Negroes were laboring, had been entirely removed; and, further, until slavery itself had received its death-blow.

The time and opportunity for fulfilling this pledge soon came, for in the year 1823 the Negroes in Jamaica commenced their agitation for obtaining equal privileges with their white brethren. It does not appear that Hill attached himself openly to any of the societies that were formed for the purpose of carrying on this agitation. But he freely gave them the benefit of his abilities, helping the whole movement with his advice and with his pen.[2]

In the year 1826 Hill visited Cuba, the United States and Canada, and then went on to England, landing there in September. In 1827 he was deputed by the organization in Jamaica to use his efforts in England to secure the assistance of the leading members of the Anti-Slavery party. During his stay there he was on terms of close intimacy with Wilberforce, Buxton, Clarkson, Babington, Lushington and Zachary Macaulay,[3] all members of the Anti-Slavery Society, as well as Pringle and other men eminent for their philanthropy and talents and noted for the deep interest they took in all that related to the elevation and welfare of the Negroes of the British West Indian colonies. The petition from the people of color of this island to the House of Commons for the removal of their civil disabilities, was entrusted to Hill, who upon the occasion of presenting it was permitted "within the bar" of the House. On that occasion Canning delivered his last speech a splendid effort in favor of the petitioners. Hill remained several years in England and contributed largely by his pen and his speeches to enlighten the public mind of England as to the real character of West Indian slavery. But the remittances from the "people of color" in Jamaica, never very large, soon became few and far between. So Hill, always independent in every way, even in his friendships and political alliances, maintained himself and his sister, Jane, almost entirely by his contributions, literary and scientific, to several popular newspapers and periodicals.[4]

After a residence of several years in England, Hill was sent by the Anti-Slavery Society on a visit to San Domingo, chiefly for the purpose of ascertaining by personal observation and inquiry what was the actual social and political condition of the people of that island.[5] But his commission had a more extensive object than that attached to it, which, however, directed him to obtain besides all the information he possibly could concerning the natural resources of every part of the country through which he was to travel. San Domingo was then under the wise and able rule of President Boyer, the whole island forming one undivided republic, enjoying internal tranquillity, and being in a comparatively flourishing condition. On his way from England to Port-au-Prince, where he arrived on the sixteenth of June, 1830, Hill visited France staying there a few months. He spent nearly two years in San Domingo travelling incessantly and making notes about everything. He has left more than one sketch-book full of sketches showing a knowledge of perspective, a keen eye for the picturesque and a true artist's feeling. He sailed from San Domingo for England on the third of May, 1832, and then for Jamaica a few months after, never again to quit his native country. In that year he was made justice of the peace for Trelawny.

He was never greedy for money and seems to have been ill-paid for his labors in San Domingo. Upon his return to Jamaica either on that account or from motives of policy he ceased all communication with the Anti-Slavery Society, and only now and then did he write to one or two of its members, and even then more as personal friends than as old political allies.

On the third of February, 1834, Hill was appointed one of a number of forty stipendiary magistrates whose duty it was to adjudicate between the former slaveholders and their "apprentices."[6] This appointment he held until the first of January, 1872. In this connection it may be interesting to quote the opinion of Hill expressed by the Rev. James Thome and J. H. Kimball, who in 1838 published for the American Anti-Slavery Society an account of Emancipation in the West Indies: a six months' tour in Antigua, Barbadoes and Jamaica in the year 1837. They say: "We spent nearly a day with Richard Hill, Esq., the secretary of the special magistrates' departments, of whom we have already spoken. He is a colored gentleman, and in every respect the noblest man, white or black, whom we met in the West Indies. He is highly intelligent and of fine moral feelings. His manners are free and unassuming, and his language in conversation fluent and well chosen.... He is at the head of the special magistrates (of whom there are sixty (sic) in this island) and all the correspondence between them and the governor is carried on through him. The station he holds is a very important one, and the business connected with it is of a character and extent that, were he not a man of superior abilities, he could not sustain. He is highly respected by the government in the island and at home, and possesses the esteem of his fellow citizens of all colors. He associates with persons of the highest rank, dining and attending parties at the government house with all the aristocracy of Jamaica. We had the pleasure of spending an evening with him at the solicitor general's. Though an African sun has burnt a deep tinge on him he is truly one of nature's nobleman. His demeanor is such, so dignified, yet so bland and amiable, that no one can help respecting him."[7]

Hill represented St. James and afterwards Trelawny in the House of Assembly which sat from October 24, 1837, to November 3, 1838, and during that time he served on several important committees, notably one appointed to inquire into the state of the several courts of justice in the island. But the fact that he unsuccessfully contested the representation of Port Royal in November, 1838, may have had something to do with his withdrawal from political strife. About 1840 he was offered the governorship of St. Lucia, but his love for his native island caused him to decline the offer. He was in 1855 nominated a member of the Privy Council which post he held only about ten years.

His political career was ended early in life, and the remainder of his days were passed in retirement at Spanish-Town where he had taken up his abode upon being appointed stipendiary magistrate. He occupied his time with his daily official duties and literary work and seldom left home except for change of air at the sea side, to visit some intimate friend in Kingston, or perhaps to take the chair at some missionary gathering, or to join in the deliberations of a committee meeting. In 1847 Hill acted as Agent General of Immigration, and in December of that year he submitted an interesting report to the Assembly.

When the cholera swept over the island in 1851 Hill turned his botanical studies to good account. The saline treatment was then in high esteem; but by means of the bitter-bush, Eupatorium nervosum, a shrub not unlike the wild sage in appearance, which grows freely on waste lands, he is said to have alleviated much suffering and saved many lives.

He was Vice-President from 1844 to 1849 of the Jamaica Society for the encouragement of Agriculture and other Arts and Sciences, instituted in 1825. In 1849 this Society ceased to exist and in its stead sprang up the Colonial Literary and Heading Society, of which Hill was one of the managing committee. He was one of the nominated members of the then Board of Education. He was a member of the original council of the Royal Agricultural Society of Jamaica, founded in 1843, Vice-President as late as 1857 of the Royal Society of Arts of Jamaica, established in 1854 as the Jamaica Society of Arts, and Vice-President of the Royal Society of Arts and Agriculture, which was the result of the amalgamation of these two societies in 1864. In 1861 he had undertaken to edit jointly with the Rev. James Watson, the Secretary, the Transactions of the Royal Society of Arts, to which he contributed various notes. But in the first number of the Transactions of the Incorporated Royal Society of Arts and Agriculture (1867) is the record of a vote of sympathy and regret at his inability to attend through ill-health; and although he contributed articles to the journal he was not able to be present at the meetings. His leisure was devoted to scientific study, especially the ornithology, ichthyology, and anthropology of the West Indies. He never let a single opportunity pass by, if he could possibly help it, without trying to benefit his country with his ready pen, and he always gave all the encouragement he could to those who seemed at all anxious to study any subject with which he was in the least acquainted. He read some twenty-five lectures in all at various times on various subjects.

On the title page of his Naturalist's Sojourn in Jamaica, as well as in his preface, Gosse bears testimony to the assistance which Hill rendered to him. The appearance of Hill's name on the title page ("Assisted by Richard Hill, Esq., Cor. M. Z. S. Lond., Mem. Counc. Boy. Soc. Agriculture of Jamaica") was, Mr. Edmund Gosse tells us in his memoir of his father, greatly against that modest gentleman's wish. He tells us also that the friendship for Hill was one of the warmest and most intimate friendships of his father's life. The publication of this book was delayed by the fact that every sheet was sent to Spanish Town to be read by Hill.

Hill contributed to several scientific publications both in England and America and by this means became connected with some of the leading learned societies of the world. He was corresponding member of the Zoological Society of London, of the Leeds Institute and of the Smithsonian Institution, and he numbered amongst his correspondents Darwin and Poey. Darwin had written in September, 1856, to Gosse for further information with respect to the habits of pigeons and rabbits referred to in his Sojourn, and it was at Gosse's suggestion that Darwin wrote to Hill. In a later letter, of April, 1857, he says: "I owe to using your name a most kind and valuable correspondent in Mr. Hill, of Spanish Town."

The cony of Jamaica, Capromys brachyurus, found commonly in his day, but now becoming extinct, was named by Hill in Gosse's Naturalist's Sojourn; as well as four birds—three in the Birds of Jamaica and one in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History, and two fishes. One bird (Mimus hillii), two fishes and four mollusca, three being Jamaican, were named after Hill.

In addition to his collaboration with Gosse of the Birds of Jamaica and the Naturalist's Sojourn in Jamaica, Hill's best-known literary productions are A Week at Port Royal, published at Montego Bay in 1858; Lights and Shadows of Jamaica History, published in Kingston in 1859; Eight Chapters in the History of Jamaica, 1508-1680, illustrating the settlement of the Jews in the island which appeared in 1868; and The Picaroons of One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago, which was published in Dublin in 1869.

He contributed, moreover, a large number of articles on natural history subjects to various Jamaica publications too numerous to mention. Some of these were: The Jamaica Almanacs; Transactions of the Jamaica Society of Arts; Transactions of the Royal Society of Arts of Jamaica; The Jamaica Physical Journal; Jamaica Monthly Magazine; Jamaica Quarterly Magazine. In England he contributed to the Proceedings of the Zoological Society; and in America to the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Science, Philadelphia, and the Annals of the Lyceum of Natural History, New York.

In stature he was tall and commanding, though perhaps the comparison of him to Antinous made by the writer of an obituary notice was a little exaggerated. All who knew bore testimony to his generosity, philanthropy, modesty, even temper, and unfailing self-forgetfulness, his kindness of heart, his piety, and his catholicism in matters of religion. A portrait of him executed in oils, it is said, by James Wyeth, an American artist who spent a short season in the island, is in the Jamaica History Gallery at the Institute of Jamaica, which also possesses a pencil sketch of him done by himself.

For two or three years before his death Hill suffered from failing eyesight. He died, unmarried, at Spanish Town, on September 28, 1872, at the advanced age of seventy-eight. His remains were followed to the grave by an immense concourse of all classes.

FRANK CUNDALL, Secretary, The Institute of Jamaica


[1] Taken in great measure from the biographical notice by the writer in the Journal of the Institute of Jamaica, July, 1896.

[2] For a general sketch of this period see W. J. Gardner's a History of Jamaica, pp. 211-317.

[3] This movement had for years been promoted by the heroic few. It was then getting a hearing in Parliament. They first advocated the abolition of the slave trade and then directed attention to slavery.

[4] These contributions closely connected Hill with the men whose new thought revolutionized science a few decades later.

[5] San Domingo was then independent and the success of the free Negroes there would have a direct bearing on the anti-slavery movement, as indifferent white men sometimes contended that the free Negro was a failure.

[6] Slavery in the British West Indies was not actually abolished instantly. Gradual emancipation was the method tried in most parts and even in cases of immediate emancipation the system of apprenticeship which followed was not much better than slavery.

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