All education has two basic parts -- the teaching of basic skills and information and the transmission of social values. Southern slaveowners clearly understood the social uses of education. In 1832 Alabama denied formal education to all blacks to discourage revolts. 1 This attempt to keep the slaves illiterate did not mean that the planters did not try to educate their slaves. Many planters gave their slaves some manual instruction. The plantation system also included an elaborate, informal curriculum designed to indoctrinate the slaves for their "proper place" in society. Christian education on plantations sought to ensure the submission as well as the salvation of the slaves.
So defenders of Southern slavery such as Ulrich Bonnell Phillips are correct in asserting that the plantation was a school for blacks. The curriculum or aim of this school, however, was subordination not civilization. While modern scholars; from Stanley Elkins to John Blassingame differ markedly in their judgment of the eifiectiveness of this instruction, they agree with Kenneth Stampp that the intent ofthe planters was "To Make [the slaves] Stand in Fear." 2
When the Civil War ended, the planters had lost two of the instruments with which they sought to inculcate subordination in blacks, black chattel. slavery and the white-dominated churches which slaves had to attend. While the whites still had political and economic weapons to enforce black subordination, they needed an institution to teach it.
During the transitional period immediately after the Civil War, several forces converged to overcome Alabama's whites' thirty-year-old tradition of opposition to formal black education. Some impoverished whites needed jobs; so desperately that they wanted to teach. in black schools. Many whites were concerned about illiterate blacks voting after 1867-1868. A few white edu-