“5. That there be made a purchase of so many cheap and pious books as a due regard to the other objects of the Assembly’s funds will admit, with a view of distributing them not only among the frontiers of these States, but also among the poorer classes of people, and the blacks, or wherever it is thought useful; which books shall be given away, or lent, at the discretion of the distributor; and that there be received from Mr. Robert Aitken, toward the discharge of his debt, books to such amount as shall appear proper to the Trustees of the Assembly, who are hereby requested to take proper measures for the distribution of same.”—Act and Proceedings of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.
PLAN FOR IMPROVING THE CONDITION OF THE FREE BLACKS
The business relative to free blacks shall be transacted by a committee of twenty-four persons, annually elected by ballot at a meeting of this Society, in the month called April, and in order to perform the different services with expedition, regularity and energy this committee shall resolve itself into the following sub-committees, viz.:
I. A Committee of Inspection, who shall superintend the morals, general conduct, and ordinary situation of the free negroes, and afford them advice and instruction, protection from wrongs, and other friendly offices.
II. A Committee of Guardians, who shall place out children and young people with suitable persons, that they may (during a moderate time of apprenticeship or servitude) learn some trade or other business of subsistence. The committee may effect this partly by a persuasive influence on parents and the persons concerned, and partly by cooeperating with the laws, which are or may be enacted for this and similar purposes. In forming contracts of these occasions, the committee shall secure to the Society as far as may be practicable the right of guardianship over the person so bound.
III. A Committee of Education, who shall superintend the school instruction of the children and youth of the free blacks. They may either influence them to attend regularly the schools already established in this city, or form others with this view; they shall, in either case, provide, that the pupils may receive such learning as is necessary for their future situation in life, and especially a deep impression of the most important and generally acknowledged moral and religious principles. They shall also procure and preserve a regular record of the marriages, births, and manumissions of all free blacks.
IV. The Committee of Employ, who shall endeavor to procure constant employment for those free negroes who are able to work; as the want of this would occasion poverty, idleness, and many vicious habits. This committee will by sedulous inquiry be enabled to find common labor for a great number; they will also provide that such as indicate proper talents may learn various trades, which may be done by prevailing upon them to bind themselves for such a term of years as shall compensate their masters for the expense and trouble of instruction and maintenance. The committee may attempt the institution of some simple and useful manufactures which will require but little skill, and also may assist, in commencing business, such as appear to be qualified for it.