Posts Tagged General Howard
Educator Mrs. Fanny Jackson Coppin, namesake of Coppin State University in Baltimore, ran with industrial education advocate Dr. Frederick Douglass
In celebration of Women’s History Month we will make an effort to post weekly about reformist-minded women Dr. Frederick Douglass agitated and ran with in the circles of temperance, suffrage, journalism, education and other activist causes and purposes.
The first woman we feature is educator Mrs. Fanny Jackson Coppin, remembered today by the university on the west side of North Avenue in Baltimore which bears her name.
Whereas another day awaits a detailed account of the working relationship and friendship between Douglass and Coppin, here we share a brief excerpt from Coppin’s 1913 book with a brief anecdote detailing Douglass’ belief in industrial education as a means of economic self-determination.
In the year 1837, the Friends of Philadelphia had established a school for the education of colored youth in higher learning. To make a test whether or not the Negro was capable of acquiring any considerable degree of education. For it was one of the strongest arguments in the defense of slavery, that the Negro was an inferior creation; formed by the Almighty for just the work he was doing.
It is said that John C. Calhoun made the remark, that if there could be found a Negro that could conjugate a Greek verb, he would give up all his preconceived ideas of the inferiority of the Negro. Well, let’s try him, and see, said the fair-minded Quaker people. And for years this institution, known as the Institute for Colored Youth, was visited by interested persons from different parts of the United States and Europe.
Here I was given the delightful task of teaching my own people, and how delighted I was to see them mastering Caesar, Virgil, Cicero, Horace and Xenophon’s Anabasis. We also taught New Testament Greek. It was customary to have public examinations once a year, and when the teachers were thru examining their classes, any interested person in the audience was requested to take it up, and ask questions. At one of such examinations, when I asked a titled Englishman to take the class and examine it, he said: “They are more capable of examining me, their proficiency is simply wonderful.”
One visiting friend was so pleased with the work of the students in the difficult metres in Horace that he afterwards sent me, as a present, the Horace which he used in college. A learned Friend from Germantown, coming into a class in Greek, the first aorist, passive and middle, being so neatly and correctly written at one board, while I, at the same time, was hearing a class recite, exclaimed: “Fanny, I find thee driving a coach and six.” As it is much more difficult to drive a coach and six, than a coach and one, I took it as a compliment. But I was especially glad to know that the students were doing their work so well as to justify Quakers in their fair-minded opinion of them.
General O. O. Howard, who was brought in at one time by one of the managers to hear an examination in Virgil, remarked that Negroes in trigonometry and the classics might well share in the triumphs of their brothers on the battlefield.
When I came to the School, the Principal of the Institute was Ebenezer D. Bassett, who for fourteen years had charge of the work. He was a graduate of the State Normal School of Connecticut, and was a man of unusual natural and acquired ability, and an accurate and ripe scholar; and, withal, a man of great modesty of character. Many are the reminiscences he used to give of the visits of interested persons to the school: among these was a man who had written a book to prove that the Negro was not a man. And, having heard of the wonderful achievements of this Negro school, he determined to come and see for himself what was being accomplished. He brought a friend with him, better versed in algebra than himself, and asked Mr. Bassett to bring out his highest class. There was in the class at that time Jesse Glasgow, a very black boy. All he asked was a chance. Just as fast as they gave the problems, Jesse put them on the board with the greatest ease. This decided the fate of the book, then in manuscript form, which, so far as we know, was never published. Jesse Glasgow afterwards found his way to the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
In the year 1869, Mr. Bassett was appointed United States Minister to Hayti by President Grant; leaving the principalship of the Institute vacant. Now, Octavius V. Catto, a professor in the school, and myself, had an opportunity to keep the school up to the same degree of proficiency that it attained under its former Principal and to carry it forward as much as possible.
About this time we were visited by a delegation of school commissioners, seeking teachers for schools in Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. These teachers were not required to know and teach the classics, but they were expected to come into an examination upon the English branches, and to have at their tongue’s end the solution of any abstruse problem in the three R’s which their examiners might be inclined to ask them. And now, it seemed best to give up the time spent in teaching Greek and devote it to the English studies.
As our young people were now about to find a ready field in teaching, it was thought well to introduce some text books on school management, and methods of teaching, and thoroughly prepare our students for normal work. At this time our faculty was increased by the addition of Richard T. Greener, a graduate of Harvard College, who took charge of the English Department, and Edward Bouchet, a graduate of Yale College, and also of the Sheffield Scientific School, who took charge of the scientific department. Both of these young men were admirably fitted for their work. And, with Octavius V. Catto in charge of the boys’ department, and myself in charge of the girls–in connection with the principalship of the school–we had a strong working force.
I now instituted a course in normal training, which at first consisted only of a review of English studies, with the theory of teaching, school management and methods. But the inadequacy of this course was so apparent that when it became necessary to reorganize the Preparatory Departments, it was decided to put this work into the hands of the normal students, who would thus have ample practice in teaching and governing under daily direction and correction. These students became so efficient in their work that they were sought for and engaged to teach long before they finished their course of study.
Richard Humphreys, the Friend–Quaker–who gave the first endowment with which to found the school, stipulated that it should not only teach higher literary studies, but that a Mechanical and Industrial Department, including Agriculture, should come within the scope of its work. The wisdom of this thoughtful and far-seeing founder has since been amply demonstrated.
At the Centennial Exhibition in 1876, the foreign exhibits of work done in trade schools opened the eyes of the directors of public education in America as to the great lack existing in our own system of education. If this deficiency was apparent as it related to the white youth of the country, it was far more so as it related to the colored.
In Philadelphia, the only place at the time where a colored boy could learn a trade, was in the House of Refuge, or the Penitentiary!
And now began an eager and intensely earnest crusade to supply this deficiency in the work of the Institute for Colored Youth.
The teachers of the Institute now vigorously applied their energies in collecting funds for the establishment of an Industrial Department, and in this work they had the encouragement of the managers of the school, who were as anxious as we that the greatly needed department should be established.
In instituting this department, a temporary organization was formed, with Mr. Theodore Starr as President, Miss Anna Hallowell as Treasurer, and myself as Field Agent.
The Academic Department of the Institute had been so splendidly successful in proving that the Negro youth was equally capable as others in mastering a higher education, that no argument was necessary to establish its need, but the broad ground of education by which the masses must become self-supporting was, to me, a matter of painful anxiety.
Frederick Douglass once said, it was easier to get a colored boy into a lawyer’s office than into a blacksmith shop; and on account of the inflexibility of the Trades Unions, this condition of affairs still continues, making it necessary for us to have our own “blacksmith shop.”
The minds of our people had to be enlightened upon the necessity of industrial education.
Jackson-Coppin, Fanny. Reminiscences of School Life, and Hints of Teaching. Philadelphia, PA. 1913.
Thank you to Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site for hosting presentation on Frederick Douglass and Howard University!
Douglassonian Lecture: Frederick Douglass and Howard University [Carter G. Woodson House, Sun., Feb 25 – 1pm – 3pm]
In celebration of the sesquicentennial of Howard University and the bicentennial of the birth of Frederick Douglass, local historian and author John Muller will present a talk that details the consequential and active role Douglass had in the first generation of Howard University‘s history.
After the talk, visitors are welcome to tour the home and learn of Woodson’s connections with Douglass and Howard University. This event is first-come, first-served, limited to the first 25 visitors. Parking is extremely limited and walking, biking, or public transportation may be better options.
Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site
1538 Ninth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
Rail — Green Line / Yellow Line – Shaw / Howard
Bus – The 70
Bowdoin continues to be a magnet for illustrious awards, with several major grants totaling more than $1.6 million awarded to faculty and programs at the College in recent months.
Christmas letter written by Howard to his son, Guy, in 1861
Bowdoin received a grant award of $150,000 from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission’s “Digitizing Historical Records” program to support a three-year project to digitize the college’s Oliver Otis Howard Papers.
Based in Bowdoin’s George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, the project will reproduce the entire contents of the O.O. Howard Papers (which occupy more than sixty linear feet of shelf space) for online viewing and downloading. The 150,000 high-quality scanned pages will be freely available world-wide.
Howard was a Maine native who graduated in the Bowdoin class of 1850 and went on to become a Union general, awarded a Medal of Honor for his service in the war. His later activities included becoming head of the Freedman’s Bureau and superintendent of West Point, participating in Indian wars in the western United States, and serving for many years on Bowdoin’s Board of Trustees. Over the course of his life, Howard exchanged letters with more than 14,000 people, including notables involved in social reformation, the military, politics, law, religion, education, literature, journalism, and the arts. The luminaries with whom he corresponded included Henry Ward Beecher, Andrew Carnegie, Dorothea Dix, Frederick Douglass, James A. Garfield, Sojourner Truth, and Theodore Roosevelt.
O. O. Howard’s 1854 commission as an officer, signed by then-Secretary of State Jefferson Davis
Howard’s trove of letters, scrapbooks, speeches, diaries, and photographs attracts researchers in a wide range of disciplines. The documents not only provide insight into the events of Howard’s varied career, but also reflect his personal life as a member of a distinguished Maine family, his active social involvement, and his progressive ideas on topics such as African-American welfare and education for disadvantaged populations.
For reasons such as these, the Howard papers are already Bowdoin’s most in-demand collection. But thanks to the digitization project, ”we think the collection will become even more heavily used,” said Richard Lindemann, director of the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections and Archives. “Digitization makes more people come to see the originals, to inspect them more carefully,” he said. “It actually increases traffic to the original collection.”
Obtaining large-scale funding was critical for the success of this labor-intensive project, which requires many hours of scanning images (a task that will be performed by students) and an important element of quality control, as well as specialized equipment. Bowdoin’s proposal to the NHPRC demonstrated a cost-effective digitization plan, which included the innovative technique of integrating the newly digitized material with the Howard collection’s electronic finding aid – an existing resource that provides descriptive and organizational information about the collection. “Rather than creating metadata, we’re applying metadata that’s already been created,” Lindemann said, noting that this time-saving method provides a model for future digitization projects. Electronic finding aids are not only ubiquitous within Bowdoin’s collections but also commonplace at other institutions.
Lindemann noted that the digitization project dovetails with the College’s active interest in exploring the digital humanities. “The digitized archive will be an opportunity for students and faculty to interrogate the collection in ways that they haven’t been able to before,” Lindemann said.
News and updates for the digitization project are viewable on the project website.
Frederick Douglass & his sons lived in greater Anacostia area in early 1870s; before Frederick Douglass purchased Cedar Hill in the fall of 1877
When Frederick Douglass moved to Uniontown, horse thieves, wild animals, and escapees from the Government Hospital for the Insane roamed the pastoral roadways. In just over twenty years since its founding the suburban subdivision of Uniontown, and the adjoining villages, had seen the erection of school houses, churches, stables, new homes and businesses, and meeting halls. Douglass was no stranger to this community.
The next neighborhoods over from Uniontown were known as Potomac City, Hillsdale, and Barry Farm (developed by the Freedmen’s Bureau); the last two names remain in currency today. With more than $50,000 set aside by General Oliver Otis Howard, head of the Freedmen’s Bureau, in a trust to develop “normal collegiate institutions or universities” these funds were used to purchase 375 acres from the descendents of James D. Barry in 1867. Sitting just beneath the Government Hospital for the Insane, which saw its first patient in 1855, the sale of lots would help relieve “the immediate necessities of a class of poor colored people in the District of Columbia.” Within two years, more than 260 families had made Barry Farm their home, the Douglass boys included.
Writing in his autobiography General Howard recalled, “Some of those who bought one acre or two-acre lots were fairly well off. I found it better to have a few among the purchasers who were reasonably educated, and of well-known good character and repute, to lead in the school and church work, and so I encouraged such to settle alongside the more destitute.” Howard would often bring government officials to Barry Farm to show them the self-sufficient community, largely made up of freedmen. “Everyone who visited the Barry Farm and saw the new hopefulness with which most of the dwellers there were inspired, could not fail to regard the entire enterprise as judicious and beneficent.”
Testifying before a Congressional Committee in 1870, Edgar Ketchum offered a sketch of a Barry Farm homestead. “You may see another (man) some thirty-six years of age, very black, very strong, very happy, working on his place. His little house cost him $90. You see his mother; that aged ‘aunty,’ as she raises herself up to look at you, will tell you that she has had eleven children, and that all of them were sold away from her.” Ketchum continued, “She lived down in Louisiana. The man will tell you that he is one of those children. He went down to Texas, and when he came up through Louisiana and Alabama he found his old mother and brought her up with him, along with his wife and son. And there they live.”
And there, all three of Douglass’s sons initially settled upon moving to Washington in the late 1860s, a testament to the family’s creed and commitment to being on the front lines of uplifting their race. Charles and Lewis would move across town while Frederick, Jr. would spend the rest of his life on nearby Nichols Avenue, today Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue. In the early years of the 1870s, when in Washington to run The New National Era and serve on the Legislative Council, records indicate Frederick was living in the Anacostia area with one or all of his sons.
How’d Frederick Douglass spend Independence Day 1873? He attended a meeting of the Howard University Board of Trustees with General O.O. Howard.
On July 4th, 1873 General Oliver Otis Howard and Frederick Douglass were the only two people who showed at 126th meeting of the Howard University Board of Trustees. With no quorum the meeting was adjourned, with a meeting at the same place and time scheduled for the next day, July 5th.
If you’ve been in the city more than two days you most likely have perspective enough to have seen something come and go. That’s how it is. But for historians of the city who specialize in the “built environment” they can tell you Monday morning straight through to Sunday night about all of the buildings that have been lost, and these are just the buildings of recent decades.
According to 1996’s The Long Walk: The Placemaking Legacy of Howard University many of the campus’ original buildings are no more which would be expected for any institution as old as Howard, the city’s third university.
The history of Howard University, of which we give an illustration on this page, enforces an important moral in connection with the construction of public buildings. The numerous accidents which have happened in the country from the recklessness of speculative builders – among which, as being the most disastrous, the falling of the Lawrence Mills, over ten years ago, stands out most prominently – ought ere this to have taught there terrible lesson. In connection with the Howard University we do not purpose to denounce any thing or any body, but only to state a few facts.
For some years past an attempt has been made to bring into use for building purposes a patent composite block which should displace a common brick. A company was organized in New York city; the manufacture of the new block was commenced on a large scale; a large number of edifices were constructed from it in various parts of the country; and patent rights were sold for different geographical sections. Indestructibility, beauty of color and texture, and cheapness were claimed for the new invention. General Howard and other gentlemen organized a company in Washington, purchasing the patent right for $10,000. Thus it happened that when the Howard University for the education of colored youth was set on foot a hundred and fifty acres were bought north of the Capitol, and it was determined to build the edifice, as also the private structures upon the grounds, of the new material. It is asserted that $300,000 of public money has been used in forwarding this enterprise. The blocks were constructed from sand taken from the grounds, mixed with lime.
The result has been a failure. The material does not answer its purpose. Portions of the buildings constructed have crumbled, and none of them are considered safe. It may be that the blocks were not properly manufactured, or that they were too hastily used; but certainly, as manufactured and used in this case, they have proved unsatisfactory and useless. Our illustration shows a pile of these blocks in the foreground.