Ogdenism and Its Enemies
We must earnestly desire to disarm all criticism, intelligent or ignorant.... I am gladly willing to adapt policy to prejudice, upon the principle of St. Paul, “All things to all men if thereby some may be saved fromignorance.”
—Robert C. Ogden 1.
n the first six decades after Emancipation, schooling for black southerners was always a matter of some controversy. In periods of crisis, such as the beginning of Reconstruction or the era of white supremacy excess in the early twentieth century, zealots were ready to turn access to common education into an explosive political issue, even a dangerous sign of black assertion. At other times, when there were fewer open challenges to black education, there was a persistent undercurrent of resentment and resistance on the part of at least a significant minority of whites. The “naked truth, ” according to Tar Heel editor Josephus Daniels, was that much of the money appropriated for Negro education was “given against the judgment of Southern taxpayers.” 2.
Speaking among themselves, supporters of black education admitted the challenge of developing “right thinking among white people in the South.” At almost any point between 1865 and 1925, one can find some educational crusader, white or black, northern or southern, making comments similar to those of Methodist clergyman Atticus G. Haygood in the 1880s. Writing to his friend Rutherford B. Hayes, Haygood compared his work as agent of the Slater Fund for black education to the slow, arduous work of “draining the Everglades of____________________