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Negroes' education, we are not left entirely in the dark. The
Horsham School Committee, which made a report of its own
after 1783, made occasional reference thereto, and it must be
understood from these reports that the Negroes were schooled
at the expense of the school committee. The only proof of
this statement, given in the records, is found in statements like
the following:

168 Min. Goshen Mo. Mtg., 7 10 1778.
Ibid., 12 II 1778.
Ibid., 8 n 1780.
171 Futhey and Cope, 424.

17Z This statement is based on the results of G. Cope's study of local

173 Bunting, Recs., Mtg. Phila. Yr. Mtg., 24.

Education of Negroes and Indians


An account of Thomas Hallowell for schooling Griffith Camel's and
negro Caesar's children was produced and considered, and the treasurer
ordered to pay him grant given. That of Caesar's lies for inspection, 174

This makes clear that cases of Negro schooling were taken
before the same committee as cases of poor Whites and were
investigated and disposed of in the same manner.

Byberry Preparative Meeting makes no reference during
the early years to the status of the Negro in its limits.
Martindale, in a History of Byberry and Moreland, states that
slavery came into Byberry about lyzi, 175 the slaves being
employed by the more opulent class to do the roughest work.
The inventory of a Friends' property (1727) showed that he
possessed "one negro girl, 20, and one negro boy, 3o." m
Of their intervening history little is recorded, though the
Negroes were set free by many members of Friends, and in
1779 the meeting authorized Silas Walmsley and William
Walmsley to provide a suitable burying ground for the use of
Negroes who had been freed. 1 " What was done for their
education is not known.

It is noticeable that in the earliest answers to the query
concerning Negroes (about 1756) the majority of the monthly
meetings usually answered in an offhand manner that they
were "clear" or there were "none to be charged with that
breech," or something to that effect. The writer believes
these reports first sent in were perhaps made from only a
general knowledge of the situation, and not the result of an
exact knowledge of their members' practices. This statement
is not capable of an exact proof, but the remarkable similarity
in all the meeting records for the first few reports, certainly
indicate that such was the case. Quite frequently, yes, in
most cases, the " clear" reports are followed after a few months
or years by statements that some are imported, a few held
as slaves, or one Negro sold and similar reports. This was
true in the case of Gwynedd. In 1756 the meeting reported
"we have not to charge any," 178 and three months following,

174 Rec. Horsham School Com., u 15 1793-

176 Martindale, Hist, of Byberry and Moreland, 49.

m lbid., 50. (The sources used by Martindale are not found.)

177 Min. Byberry Prep. Mtg., 9 *5 1 779-

178 Min. Gwynedd Mo. Mtg., 4251756, 215.


Slaves in


Records not
always to be
relied upon

260 Early Quaker Education in Pennsylvania

"Friends think themselves clear in this respect"; 179 the
nature of the wording in the last would imply it was based
more on implicit faith than explicit judgment. Eleven years
thereafter we have more definite reports, such as :

. . . . clear of importing negroes; the few possessed by Friends
are well used, their slavery excepted, 180 and none bought or sold that we
know of; those that have them use them well as to the necessities of
life and some are brought to meetings at times. 181

From that time forward the reports made to the monthly
meeting were very definite. In 1775 a report was brought in
which purported to cover the entire compass of the meeting.
It stated the number held, their status, and what was done
for their benefit. It is interesting to note that a few enjoyed
some educational opportunities, limited to be sure, the details
of which are presented here, as they appeared in the minutes
of the meeting.

We of the committee appointed by the Monthly Meeting to visit such
of our members as are possessed of slaves, and detaining them in bond-
age, contrary .... visited all such of our members that are
under that circumstance as we know of, which are eight in number, who
are possessed of sixteen negroes and one mulatto, viz.: ist possesses
one negro girl about 17 years of age and appeared in a disposition rather
to justify the practice of detaining her in bondage during life than other-
wise. 2d, possesses five negroes one of which is a man about 35 years of
age, who he said he intended to set free at the next quarter sessions.
The other four three boys and a girl, are young, whom he said he
intended to set free as they came of age, the boys at 21 and the girl at 18,
giving them learning to fit them for business. 3rd, two negroes, a man
and a woman, the man about 30 years of age, who was in the possession
of a Friend, lately deceased, now in his executors, who said he intended
they should soon enjoy their liberty. 4th, possessor of three negroes,
one a woman 20 years old, who he said he expected should have her
liberty in a short time the other two, a man and a woman about 20
years of age, both as we thought, incapable of freedom. 5th, possessor
of 2 negroes, a woman about 32 years old, who he said should have her
liberty, when she earned him thirty pounds. The girl about ten years
old who he said is to be set free by his last will when she arrives at the
age of 30 years. 6th. Possessor of two negroes, both women, one about
34, the other about 19 years old; the said Friend not in a capacity of
giving any account of what might be done for them. 7th. Possessor of

179 Min. Gwynedd Mo. Mtg., 7 27 1756, 164.
1M Ibid., 7 28 1767, 13.
lsl !bid., 7261768, 40.

Education of Negroes and Indians


a mulatto girl about 1 1 years old, bound to him till she is3i, who he said
he intended to set at liberty at the age of 21, with endeavors to learn her
to read. 8th. Possessor of a negro girl about 17 years old, who her
mistress said she intended to do the best she could by. 182

In 1779 it is reported that the affairs of Negroes are still in
the hands of the committee for that purpose, but that not
much more has been accomplished than was last reported. 183
It would seem though that the committee was decidedly
active in dealing with individual cases of discipline both at
that time and in the years following. Especially did they
urge first the freedom of the slave, and when this was refused,
as it occasionally was, they did not hesitate to eject the
recalcitrant member. 184 So effective was their service that
by 1790 there were none held as slaves by Friends and in
regard to their education they reported: "Some care and
labor is extended towards the instruction and education of
such Negroes as are under Friends' care." 186

It would be interesting to compare the Friends' own
account of their activity with that of an outsider who merely
looked on, but the writer has been unable to find any opinion
on the subject by any contemporary, either through this
investigation or from those made by others. Many, it is
true, comment on their social and economic status but little
mention is ever made of their education. 186

The Warrington and Fairfax Quarterly Meeting (Baltimore
Yearly Meeting) reported in 1776 that their Negroes were
well taken care of, but their education was "much neg-
lected." 187 Three years later they reported:

By the accounts now received it appears that the religious education of
such negroes and their children as have been restored to freedom has
been attended to and a visit performed to most of them to good satisfac-
tion, and there appears to be a hopeful prospect that those who have
been under their immediate care will comply with Friends' advice with
respect to the school education. Some care has been taken therein. 188

182 Min. Gwynedd Mo. Mtg., 8271775, 202.
183 Ibid., 5251779, 306.
lM Ibid., 8261783, 172.
1K Ibid., 7 27 1790, 112.

188 Kaln, P., Travels into North America, I, 390, 394.
187 Min. Warrington and Fairfax Q. Mtg., 9-16-1776, n.
18 *Ibid 9 20 1779, 73. (Warrington Meeting, in the County of

for failure
to manumit

and Fairfax

Some care
taken in


Early Quaker Education in Pennsylvania

relation of
and Indians

No rum to
any but
chieftain by
law, 1701


The uncommon relation existing from the time of the first
settlement of Penn's colony throughout the entire colonial
history, is well known to every schoolboy; such relations,
between any possibly antagonistic groups, have been without
parallel in the history of this country. Applegarth, speaking
of this happy relationship, states that the results of his study
revealed but two instances in which Friends had been
massacred by Indians, and these cases were entirely the
results of misunderstanding. 189

It is aside from the point to relate at length the means
employed by Penn and the Quakers to cultivate the friendship
of these people. Nothing was more forceful than his immed-
iate association with, and travels among them, and the
messages in which he explained that he and his people were
one with them and that they were all the "Friends of Onas."

Indian affairs were considered in a rational manner and
occupied much of the time of the Governor and Council.
Instances of a solicitous interest in the Indians* are seen in the
laws of 1701, forbidding the sale of rum to any but the chiefs,
who should distribute it as they thought best, 190 and a still
more restrictive law in 1722, which prohibited the sale of
liquor to Indians. Of still more importance was the establish-
ment of the principle that an abuse committed by an Indian
towards the Whites must be adjusted by the Indian chief, not
revenged by the Whites, which was given out in the instruc-
tions to colonists; and the converse stated later (1728) by the
Governor, that if a White injured an Indian he should make
complaint to the Whites, who would then punish the offense
under their own laws. 191

Friends' ministers were also active in the missionary work
among the Indians, which was first urged and practiced by

189 Applegarth, Quakers in Pa., Johns Hopkins Univ. Studies,
VIII-IX, 56.

Col. Rec. II, 16.

Ibid., Ill, 356.

*Mention should also be made of the Friendly Ass'nfor Preserving
Peace with the Indians. For reference see Vol. 3, Penn's MS., relating to
Indian Affairs, pp. 17-18, an address to Governor Dewey, 1757; also
p. 89, an address to Proprietaries Thomas Penn and Richard Penn on
same subject.

Education of Negroes and Indians


George Fox. Not only the numerous excursions of Perm, but
also those of Thomas Story, Thomas Turner, Chalkley and
others, evidence the ready spirit with which the commands of
Fox were received. 192 Besides the general missionary work
and relief for the Indians, that from time to time is mentioned
in the several meetings, there is no evidence that anything
considerable towards a school education was attempted till
the latter part of the century. In a letter of the yearly
meeting in 1796, it is stated that Friends are,

engaged in an undertaking to furnish them with some of the comforts of
civilized life. A fund is raising to supply the expense of instructing them
in Agriculture, in mechanic arts, and in some useful branches of
learning. 193

An excellent illustration of this movement towards the
education of the Indian, and the naive friendly manner with
which they made known their needs is found in the following
communications, which are self-explanatory.

To the children of the friends of Onas, who first settled in Pennsylvania:
Brothers, The request of Cornplanter, a chief of the Seneca Nation.

The Seneca Nation sees that the Great Spirit intends that they shall
not continue to live by hunting, and they look around on every side,
and inquire who it is that shall teach them what is best for them to do.
Your fathers have dealt fairly and honestly with our fathers, and they
have charged us to remember it; and we think it right to tell you that
we wish our children to be taught the same principles by which your
fathers were guided in their councils.

Brothers, we have too little wisdom among us, we cannot teach our
children what we perceive their situation requires them to know, and
we therefore ask you to instruct some of them; we wish them to be
instructed to read and write, and such other things as you teach your
own children; and especially teach them to love peace.

Brothers, we desire of you to take under your care two Seneca boys,
and teach them as your own; and in order that they may be satisfied
to remain with you, and be easy in their minds, that you will take with
them the son of our interpreter, and teach him according to his desire.

Brothers, you know it is not in our power to pay you for the education
of these three boys; and therefore you must, if you do this thing, look up
to God for your reward.

Brothers, You will consider of this request, and let us know what you
determine to do. If your hearts are inclined toward us, and you will

Work of




The Indians
request aid

1M Bowden, II, 70.

193 London Yr. Mtg. Epistles, 1795, 487.

264 Early Quaker Education in Pennsylvania

His request

appointed by
yearly meet-
ing in 1795

Oneidas and
willing to


afford our nation this great advantage, I will send my son as one of the
boys to receive your instruction, at the time which you shall appoint. 194

Cornplanter his

Signed 2-10-1791 X

In presence of Joseph Nichols. mark

To Cornplanter, The Seneca Chief:

The written message of Cornplanter, dated at Philadelphia, on the
loth of February last, was not received by us until some weeks after.
His request that we would take under our care two Seneca boys, one of
them his own son, accompanied with the son of Joseph Nicholson, we
have considered, and do agree to receive them when they can con-
veniently be sent to us; intending they shall be treated with care and
kindness and instructed in reading, writing and husbandry as the other
children of our Friends are taught; the Governor of Pennsylvania, when
informed of this proposal, having expressed his approbation thereof, as
did General Knox. 195

Signed on behalf, and by appointment of a meeting of the representa-
tives, of the said people, on the second day of the sixth month, called
June, 1791. By several Friends.

In 1795 a committee was appointed by the Yearly Meeting
of Pennsylvania and New Jersey for the promotion and
improvement of the Indian natives. 196 Their first act was
to attempt to learn the Indian's attitude towards such an
activity on the part of Friends. 197 Accordingly a circular
letter was sent out to the various neighboring tribes, and also
accompanied by a letter from the secretary of state, signifying
the government's cooperation and sanction. 198 From the
responses it appeared that only the Oneidas and part of the
Tuscaroras were willing to accept any assistance, so the fol-
lowing summer of 1796, three Friends, approved by the
committee, were sent and settled among the Oneidas. In the
winter of 1796 they established a school, continued for several
years, and taught by an Indian who had been educated in
New England. 199 The Indians were found, at first, to be
quite averse to any continuous labor, and it was necessary fo
the Friends to establish themselves, and to improve a piece
of land, in the hope that the Indians would see the results and

194 Conduct of the Society of Friends towards Indians, 98-99.

196 Ibid.

196 A brief account of the Committee's proceedings (pub. in Phila.), 7.

Education of Negroes and Indians


become interested in the process. This seems to have worked
quite satisfactorily, for in 1799 they report that the Indians
have improved some lands and "sowed them with wheat." 200
The various occupations mentioned as being taught the boys
were: smith work, tilling soil, sewing, the preparation of
lumber in sawmills, and the details included therein. The
girls were frequently instructed in spinning, knitting, sewing,
school learning, etc. 201

At this time (1799) the Oneidas became distrustful of the
motives of those in charge of the settlement, thinking that
such an investment in implements and the permanent
nature of the farms laid out, indicated an intention to seek
after a time to take their territory from them. The settlers
became aware of this feeling and to prove their good faith,
decided to leave the settlement with all implements and
improvements in sole charge of the natives. The prepara-
tions to leave were accomplished in a friendly conference,
held in September, I'jgg. 202 The success of this work, for the
Oneidas, had been watched by the Seneca tribes, and resulted
in an interest in the same thing, culminating in the letters
requesting the Friends' assistance, which have already been
presented. 203


Though slavery had fixed itself, very early, as an institution
in Pennsylvania, it was not destined to continue its growth
unmolested. Some of the chief factors working against it
were: (i) The scruples of Friends, and other sects, (2) the
Germans and (3) the opposition of White labor. Restrictive
legislation was passed in 1700, 1705 and 1712, placing an ever
increasing duty upon those imported. Gradual abolition was
provided for by statutes of 1780 and 1788. Socially and
economically the condition of the Negro in Pennsylvania was
more desirable than in states of her latitude and further

To three Quakers, opposed to Negro slavery, some brief
attention is given. Their expressions also indicate a solici-



Slavery in

""Conduct of the Society of Friends towards Indians, 10.

lol lbid., 8, 9, 10.

Ibid., 1 1 . 203 See page 263.

266 Early Quaker Education in Pennsylvania

of Slavery

The Quaker

Schools for

In country
and small

tous interest in the education of the Indian. Their influence
was extended by missionary journeys, speaking in public, and
numerous pamphlets published on that subject. This work
was by no means limited to the Quakers. Slavery was
denounced as impracticable, unjust and inconsistent with the
ideals of a free nation.

(1) Not only individual leaders, but also the organized
meetings arrayed themselves to fight against slavery. The
first memorial to that effect was on the part of Germantown
Meeting in 1688. This was sent to the Quarterly Meeting of
Philadelphia, but at that date they took no action in regard
to it. In 1727 the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's advisers
censured the practice of trading in slaves. A more extensive
warning and reproof was administered in 1758. Throughout
the early half of the century efforts were made to secure favor
for the slaves' freedom ; it was necessary that in some meas-
ure that should come first.

(2) After the active campaign for freedom, the interest in
education increased, and, in the last half of the century,
there are frequent statements of that nature in records of
meetings. Separate schools were established for them where
possible. One in Philadelphia was set up by the meeting,
though in large measure due to the active personal influence
of Benezet, who, after 1782, taught in the school till his
death. Moses Patterson was the first teacher; after 1786
two schools are always mentioned in reports. In the five
years preceding 1782 it is estimated that two hundred and
fifty Negroes attended the school.

Some attention is given to the Negroes and their education,
or lack of it, in each of the meetings. The care of this subject
in those meetings was in the charge of a committee, the
general character of whose duties was indicated on page 2 47.
The support of the Negro schools and the education of the
poor children was similar to that of other schools. 204 Reports
on the progress in freeing, supporting, and educating the
Negro, were required by their superior meetings.

204 No summary is given of conditions in each of the meetings; if
desired, see in index, "negro education."

Education of Negroes and Indians 267

The relations between Friends and Indians were most
cordial from the beginning. Though their education was
preached early by missionaries and practised in a smaller
way, little organized effort was made until 1795. In that Education of
year the yearly assembly took the necessary steps to establish
schools among neighboring tribes, the first mentioned being
for the Oneidas. The desire of the Indian for aid in these
matters is indicated by the quoted letter of Cornplanter, the
Seneca chief.




extended by

Fox's aims
in education

tion devised
by Fox

Weakness in
the organiza-

Leaders who
were inter-
ested in

The society, established by George Fox, near the middle of
the seventeenth century, increased rapidly in numbers, due
very largely to the efforts of its founder and the services of
the men whom he associated with him in his work. This
influence was extended by means of (i) journeys made to
foreign parts; (2) letters; and (3) preaching out of doors to
all who would listen. Fox, from the first, was interested in
education, particularly moral and practical, and recommended
the establishment of several schools. He was primarily
interested in (i) moral training; (2) religious instruction; and
(3) in education of a practical sort which would fit every
individual to earn a livelihood. These ends which he strove
for were likewise accepted as worthy to be achieved, and
consciously striven for by the society in its organized meetings.
This organization of meetings itself was devised by Fox and
regularly constituted in various parts before the time of his
death. It consisted of yearly, quarterly, monthly, and
particular meetings, whose relations were well defined. The
functions of the first were general and directive; those of the
last were particular and effective. The chief weakness,
already pointed out in previous chapters, was the lack of
compulsory power in the yearly meeting. Its recommenda-
tions gained results, but might be neglected in communities
desiring to do so.

j'vAn organization, of itself, performs nothing. Its accom-
plishments depend on men who have purposes, and the
determination and ability to execute them. A considerable
number of such men were members of Friends, and expressed
themselves definitely on education. Such leaders as Penn,
Fothergill, Fox, Banks, Chalkley, Crisp, Crouch, Pastorius,
Benezet and others as important, were responsible for its




educational guidance and in the end, accomplishments.
From a study of their expressions it appears that the criticisms,
concerning the Quakers' antipathy to education, are without
foundation, and arose ,for the most part, from their statement
that a classical education was not essential for a minister.
The life and the education of most of them attest the fact
that they sought a higher education for themselves and pro-
moted it for others. Not only for their own society, but for
the rich and poor of others, were efforts made to establish
schools. The education of Indians and Negroes was simi-
larly urged both on the part of individuals and the organiza-
tion. The tangible results of their efforts in this regard were
seen in the various local meetings.

In the establishment of schools, the direction lay in the
hands of the yearly meeting. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's
advices on that subject, for the first half century, were very
general in nature and seemingly of little import to the various
lower meetings. A development is noticed, however, toward
a definite plan for schools to be established. The advices of
1746 and continuing thereafter, 1750, 1751, 1753, 1755. X 77 8 .
and following, are definite in their ideas as to what should be
done, and the persistency with which they were urged in the
meetings, where all school affairs came to be attended to by
committees, seems to have effected tangible results. Com-
mittee reports on educational conditions increased greatly in
definiteness after 1777, which allows a better estimate to be

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Online LibraryThomas WoodyEarly Quaker education in Pennsylvania → online text (page 26 of 28)