The American Missionary Association and Northern Philanthropy in Reconstruction Alabama

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Loren L. Schweninger, Emeritus Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: "The results of attempts by . . . the missionary societies to educate the negro in Alabama," wrote Walter Lynwood Fleming at the turn of the century, "were almost wholly bad . . . ."1 "Northern missionaries were religious fanatics,"2 he continued, "who cared little about social questions [and] . . . paid no attention to the actual condition of negroes and their station in life." Fleming concluded that philanthropic organizations had a permanent influence for evil in the state of Alabama during Reconstruction. In the light of evidence now available this negative view of Northern philanthropy in Alabama is untenable. The aid extended by non-sectarian organizations, denominational societies, the Peabody Education Fund and benevolent individuals to Alabama's freedmen, though limited when compared to other Southern states, provided Negroes with necessary schools, clothing, books, and food. The American Missionary Association, aided by the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, commonly called the Freedmen's Bureau, financed secondary and normal schools, relief stations, colleges, and sent hundreds of missionaries and teachers to help build new educational institutions for Alabama Negroes.3 Furthermore, many Northern missionaries were not religious fanatics, and their efforts in Negro relief, education, religion, economic self- improvement and journalism illustrate their deep concern for the actual condition of freedmen.

Additional Information

The Alabama Historical Quarterly 33 (Fall and Winter 1970):129-156
Language: English
Date: 1970
Alabama, Missionaries, Freedmen

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