Shifting Loyalties: The Union Occupation of Eastern North Carolina

By Judkin Browning | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
The Experience of Northern
Benevolent Societies during Occupation

When northerners arrived in coastal North Carolina during the Civil War, they discovered that the African Americans there, as elsewhere in the South, shared an overwhelming desire to acquire literacy. Susan A. Hosmer, one of the first New England teachers to appear in New Bern, wrote in September 1863 that, for local blacks, learning to read “seems to be the height of their ambition.” Freedpeople held a deep, abiding resentment toward their former masters who systematically prevented them from obtaining this measure of enlightenment. Among the many evils perpetrated on blacks under the peculiar institution, one former slave specifically identified what he considered the most egregious. “There is one sin that slavery committed against me, which I will never forgive,” he declared. “It robbed me of my education.”1

Northern missionaries and teachers—the majority of them from New England—began arriving in coastal North Carolina in 1863 to teach those former slaves who had been denied an education. The American Missionary Association (AMA), the first organization to send teachers to the region, issued an “Appeal for the Freedmen” in its monthly publication in January 1863, calling on Christian soldiers to come forward to help in the great education crusade. While acknowledging that the freedmen had physical needs, the “Appeal” also proclaimed: “They need intelligent friends and counselors, to guard them against the insults, impositions, immoralities and various abuses of those who hate them, and are interested to prove that the Negroes are an improvident race, unfit to take care of themselves.” The AMA felt it could provide the intellectual, spiritual, and moral education necessary to make the freedpeople independent. Over the next two years, dozens

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Shifting Loyalties: The Union Occupation of Eastern North Carolina
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1- Antebellum Antecedents 9
  • Chapter 2- The First Year of War 27
  • Chapter 3- The Beginning of Military Occupation 55
  • Chapter 4- The African American Experience under Occupation 81
  • Chapter 5- The Experience of Northern Benevolent Societies during Occupation 105
  • Chapter 6- The Effects of Occupation on Union Soldiers 123
  • Chapter 7- White Rejection of Union Occupation 149
  • Conclusion 177
  • Notes 183
  • Bibliography 219
  • Index 239
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