The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 402 pages of information about The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861.

“We are expressly commanded to preach the gospel to every creature; and therefore every human creature must necessarily be capable of receiving it.  It may be true, perhaps, that the generality of the Negro slaves are extremely dull of apprehension, and slow of understanding; but it may be doubted whether they are more so than some of the lowest classes of our own people; at least they are certainly not inferior in capacity to the Greenlanders, many of whom have made very sincere Christians.  Several travellers of good credit speak in very favorable terms, both of the understandings and dispositions of the native Africans on the coast of Guinea; and it is a well-known fact, that many even of the Negro slaves in our islands, although laboring under disadvantages and discouragements, that might well depress and stupefy even the best understandings, yet give sufficient proofs of the great quickness of parts and facility in learning.  They have, in particular, a natural turn to the mechanical arts, in which several of them show much ingenuity, and arrive at no small degree of perfection.  Some have discovered marks of genius for music, poetry, and other liberal accomplishments; and there are not wanting instances among them of a strength of understanding, and a generosity, dignity, and heroism of mind, which would have done honour to the most cultivated European.  It is not, therefore, to any natural or unconquerable disability in the subject we had to work upon, that the little success of our efforts is to be ascribed.  This would indeed be an insuperable obstacle, and must put an effectual stop to all future attempts of the same nature; but as this is far from being the case, we must look for other causes of our disappointment; which may perhaps appear to be, though of a serious, yet less formidable nature, and such as it is in the power of human industry and perseverance, with the blessing of Providence, to remove.  The principal of them, it is conceived, are these which here follow: 

1.  “Although several of our ministers and catechists in the college of Barbadoes have been men of great worth and piety, and good intentions, yet in general they do not appear (if we may judge from their letters to the Board) to have possessed that peculiar sort of talents and qualifications, that facility and address in conveying religious truths, that unconquerable activity, patience, and perseverance, which the instruction of dull and uncultivated minds requires, and which we sometimes see so eminently and successfully displayed in the missionaries of other churches.

“And indeed the task of instructing and converting near three hundred Negro slaves, and of educating their children in the principles of morality and religion, is too laborious for any one person to execute well; especially when the stipend is too small to animate his industry, and excite his zeal.

2.  “There seems also to have been a want of other modes of instruction, and of other books and tracts for that purpose, besides those made use of hitherto by our catechists.  And there is reason moreover to believe, that the time allotted to the instruction of the Negroes has not been sufficient.

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The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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