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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861.
the policy of immediate emancipation was not considered a menace to society, for the schools already open to colored people could exert a restraining influence on those lately given the boon of freedom.  For these reasons the antislavery societies had in their constitutions a provision for a committee of education to influence Negroes to attend school, superintend their instruction, and emphasize the cultivation of the mind as the necessary preparation for “that state in society upon which depends our political happiness."[3] Much stress was laid upon this point by the American Convention of Abolition Societies in 1794 and 1795 when the organization expressed the hope that freedmen might participate in civil rights as fast as they qualified by education.[4]

[Footnote 1:  Washington, Works of Jefferson, vol. vi., p. 456; vol. viii., p. 379; Madison, Works of, vol. iii., p. 496; Monroe, Writings of, vol. iii., pp. 321, 336, 349, 378; Adams, Works of John Adams, vol. ix., p. 92 and vol. x., p. 380.]

[Footnote 2:  Proceedings of the American Convention, etc., 1797, address.]

[Footnote 3:  The constitution of almost any antislavery society of that time provided for this work.  See Proc. of Am.  Conv., etc., 1795, address.]

[Footnote 4:  Proceedings of the American Convention of Abolition Societies, 1794, p. 21; and 1795, p. 17; and Rise and Progress of the Testimony of Friends, etc., p. 27.]

This work was organized by the abolitionists but was generally maintained by members of the various sects which did more for the enlightenment of the people of color through the antislavery organizations than through their own.[1] The support of the clergy, however, did not mean that the education of the Negroes would continue incidental to the teaching of religion.  The blacks were to be accepted as brethren and trained to be useful citizens.  For better education the colored people could then look to the more liberal sects, the Quakers, Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians, who prior to the Revolution had been restrained by intolerance from extensive proselyting.  Upon the attainment of religious liberty they were free to win over the slaveholders who came into the Methodist and Baptist churches in large numbers, bringing their slaves with them.[2] The freedom of these “regenerated” churches made possible the rise of Negro exhorters and preachers, who to exercise their gifts managed in some way to learn to read and write.  Schools for the training of such leaders were not to be found, but to encourage ambitious blacks to qualify themselves white ministers often employed such candidates as attendants, allowing them time to observe, to study, and even to address their audiences.[3]

[Footnote 1:  The antislavery societies were at first the uniting influence among all persons interested in the uplift of the Negroes.  The agitation had not then become violent, for men considered the institution not a sin but merely an evil.]

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