Each One Teach One: The Education of the Texas Freedmen
Freedmen's Bureau - Extracts From Flakes Daily Galveston Bulletin
Extracts From Flakes Daily Galveston Bulletin - July 1st, 1866
Extracts From Flakes Daily Galveston Bulletin -
EXTRACTS FROM FLAKE'S DAILY GALVESTON BULLETIN.
extraction from LETTER
FROM A RADICAL, ON THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU.
"In this the in Louisiana has been schools of Louisiana--the most extensive and successful scheme of colored instruction that has existed, as a sequence of this war--have been utterly overthrown and dispersed.
It must be remembered that the colored schools of Louisiana were begun and carried to the point of their great success under what Gen. Howard is pleased to regard as unevangelical auspices; that is, Unitarian and Quaker, and that these results were attained before Gen. Howard became Chief Commissioner.
Under such auspices, Gen. Howard, upon his accession to office, found in the colored schools of Louisiana, in July last, over twenty thousand freed people, with no debt or reproach upon the system of instruction. At that time the colored schools were transferred by Gen. Howard to the Rev. Thomas W. Conway, and to Capt. Henry R. Pease, and under them to the tender care of numerous agents of the class of the Rev. Mr. Fitz and of Mr. Hubbs, and of worse. Under such men in a little over four months the colored schools of Louisiana disappeared, leaving as a residuum a large debt upon the Government, and a biting reproach upon the Northern name.
I have said that much of Gen. Howard's apparent official failure may result from his real ignorance of his own Bureau. Gen. Howard is a Major General in the American army. He was educated at West Point. He has just emerged from active service, through the late civil war. He is living in the capital of the country, and is there exercising the functions of a high military-civil official. He is in daily intercourse with the Executive of the nation, with the Commander-in-Chief of the armies, with the Congress of the United States, with the Ministers of State, and with all the Bureau of the Government. And yet, it seems that a Major General, so educated, and so circumstanced, did not know that the army regulations forbade himself and his subordinates to use, in any manner, their official positions for private advantage in money making. He was ignorant of the fact that the law of Congress, passed three years ago, had re-affirmed that paragraph of the army regulations, and had extended it over civilians, making it a penal offense for any appointee so to act. So ignorant was General Howard of these vital provisions of the military and civil law, which he is daily administering, that by his own admission he not only justified, but encouraged his subordinates, in running plantations, and in the exercise of official privilege for individual enrichment.
In the face of these facts, it is not surprising that Gen. Howard should be ignorant of lesser and secondary matters, appertaining to his Bureau.
Brigadier General Gregory was recently relieved from the Assistant Commissionership of Texas. Major General Kiddoo was assigned to the place. Gen. Kiddoo passed through New Orleans and arrived in Galveston and assumed the duties of his office during the first week of May. Early in April, Gen. Kiddoo, on the eve of leaving Washington, called on Gen. Howard for information respecting the Bureau in the vast empire to which he had been assigned. Gen. Howard handed to Gen. Kiddoo his, Gen. Howard's Report to Congress, made in December, six months before. From that report, Gen. Kiddoo was expected to ascertain the condition of Texas. In that report it is stated, among other things, that there were in Texas "eleven colored schools with nine teachers," which would embrace about six hundred pupils. No further or later information was afforded the new Assistant Commissioner. That was all that Gen. Howard knew of that branch of his Bureau in Texas, so late as April, although accurate and regular official monthly reports had been sent to him from that State during the six months from December to April.
While in New Orleans on his way to Texas, Gen. Kiddoo, who justly regards the education of the freed people as of primary importance, expressed surprise and regret at the low state of the educational interest in Texas, as represented by the report of Gen. Howard. Gen. Baird, the Assistant Commissioner, used the occasion to say that the colored public schools of Louisiana had ceased to exist, and that "pay schools," or schools supported by the colored people themselves, were a fallacy and impossible. Gen. Kiddoo left New Orleans for Texas, arriving in Galveston in less than a month after his interview with Gen. Howard in Washington. Gen. Kiddoo was more than surprised to find in active operation in Texas, ninety schools with four thousand seven hundred pupils, all of the schools self-sustaining; maintained wholly by the colored people, without cost to the Government. So little did Gen. Howard know of his own Bureau, in this great State; so little did his Assistant Commissioner, Baird, know of what was passing around him relating to the general affairs of the Bureau; so little does he appreciate the issues of the time. From a military Bureau, so officiated, what is there to hope? From an army, so officered, who would expect success?
General Kiddoo also found these prospering schools, under the care of Mr. E. M. Wheelock, a Unitarian, the same who was three years connected with the colored schools of Louisiana. Mr. Wheelock was removed in that State upon the accession to office of the Rev. T. W. Conway. From that hour the colored schools of Louisiana began to decay. Dogmatism took the place of liberality and common sense, in their management. The popular sentiment which had grown to be with them was soon arrayed against them. It was announced that none but approved christians were to be employed in the Louisiana Bureau. It was openly stated that Catholic teachers would be no longer employed, although New Orleans is a papal city, and many of the teachers and thousands of the colored children are of that faith. When it became apparent that the schools were to be no longer secular, but sectarian, they began to go down.
Soon after Mr. Wheelock was removed from the Bureau in that State, he was called by Gen. Gregory to the superintendence of the colored schools in Texas. Under his control they grew as rapidly in Texas as they have decayed in Louisiana, under the direct interposition of Gen. Howard. It is a singular comment upon these facts, that the Rev. J. R. Shiphard late, (I believe) private secretary of Gen. Howard, and later Secretary of the "Freedmen's Aid Commission," at Washington, wrote to Gen. Gregory, towards the first of March, saying, that the "Freedmen's Aid Commission," was not disposed to assist the Bureau in Texas, while the Texan Bureau kept in service Mr. E. M. Wheelock, with whose administration in Louisiana, he, the Rev. Mr. Shiphard assumed to be familiar. It must be observed that this letter of Secretary Shiphard, was written at the very moment when the schools of Texas under Mr. Wheelock were prospering signally, and without cost to the government while the schools of Louisiana had just ceased to exist, leaving a large debt upon the government under the bigotry, weakness, and corruption of Mr. Shiphard's own especial friends. Gen. Gregory, late Assistant Commissioner of Texas, is a sharp Calvanist. He is fixed in the faith, and diligent in the forms of his church. But he is still Catholic in spirit, from native common sense and from twenty-five years of Anti-Slavery life. Therefore he declined to accede to the covert, demand of Secretary Shiphard to remove Lieut. Wheelock, and he wrote to the Secretary, that in this majestic epoch we need men of works as well as of profession! In a short time Gen. Gregory was himself removed. It is thus, through all its ramifications that Gen. Howard has run the Freedmen's Bureau, by a puritanical fanaticism. The exceptions, are, where the Assistant Commissioners have been wiser than their chief. In connection with this subject, I notice, that a Boston paper, "The Right Way," alleges as an argument against Gen. Fullerton that the colored schools of Louisiana were destroyed by him.
[From the Bulletin of July 1st, 1866.]
THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU.
We publish to-day another letter from "A Radical." This is addressed to the Hon. Thomas J. Elliott, House of Representatives, and Chairman on the Special Committee on the Freedmen's Bureau. In a natural order, this should have preceded that we published yesterday. In bringing before the public these two important and finely-written letters, it is but proper for us to say that the quarrel is not ours. Our opinions on the Bureau are expressed fully and clearly whenever occasion requires them. We have censured the Bureau when it did wrong, and defended it when it did right. "A Radical" makes grave charges, in forcible language. His indictment is clearly laid, and it is right that he should be heard upon all its counts. The ground he assumes is friendly to the Bureau, but opposed to the chief of that Bureau, not because he, Gen. Howard, is either dishonest or unfaithful to his trust, but because he is weak and permits others to do the wrongs complained of. Among the crowd of insinuators and makers of unsubstantiated assertions against the Bureau, it is refreshing to find a gentleman willing to assume the responsibility of putting his charges in plain Anglo-Saxon. Mr. Radical is an example worthy the imitation of all those who have, ought against that institution: It is impossible for Generals Steadman and Fullerton to ignore the existence of these papers, even were they so disposed. They cannot do otherwise than call for Mr. Radical and arraign the Rev. Conway and Gen. Baird, with their host of nameless, characterless and positionless associates, no matter where they have fled. They will all be visited with official scrutiny and their doings made manifest.