Documenting the American South Logo
Collections >> Titles by Harriet A. Jacobs (Harriet Ann) >> Lousia Jacobs' report about her and and her mother's work with Freedmen in Savannah, Ga., The Freedmen's Record, July 1866

Louisa Jacobs

FROM The Freedmen's Record, July 1866, p. 133-134.

SAVANNAH, GA., May 26, 1866

MY DEAR MRS. CHENEY,—... Our home is at the new Hospital for Freedmen and Refugees. Dr. Augusta, the surgeon in charge, offered us shelter in his house, which we accepted, as it in many ways facilitates our work.

My school-room is in one of the wards partitioned off; one half making a home for aged men. My room is rough, but large and airy. In March we had a vacation of two weeks. Previous to it there was an examination of all the schools. All who attended them expressed interest and satisfaction in the progress made. Of course they were Northern friends. The southerners take no interest in the education of the freed people. It seems strange, when we consider how their interest must be linked in the future. My school is not as large as through the winter months. Quite a number have left on account of their parents moving into the country. I average ninety in the morning school, and still continue my afternoon school for adults.

I have much to encourage me in my labors, I have children who could not spell when I organized the school in November, now reading well and studying Arithmitic [sic] and Geography. This does not show inferiority of race. You will be glad to know that the majority of the freedmen are either planting for themselves, or on shares. Some of the planters have allowed them to go on their land with the privilege of planting as much as they like. In many instances this is done without contract, or the exacting of any share in the profits. This unexpected kindness puzzles the people. Some take it in good faith; while others argue that the planters in their magnanimity have not lost sight of self, and that, when the crops shall be gathered in, they will lay claim to large shares, if not the whole.

Our society sent down a large quantity of garden seeds. They have proved a blessing to the people. An old woman said to mother, "I is so glad to get dese seeds, I is bin long praying for dem. I is got de garden spot, but I is got no money to buy seeds. I'll plant dem, and when dey come to 'fection, I 'member you." Another, with great earnestness, assured her that when she met her Jesus she would tell him she had done her part by her. Another tried to impress on her that "her good manners was 'corded on high." They seem so grateful for kindness. I suppose it is because they have had so little done for them. The chains have fallen off from them; but justice has not yet found an echo in the hearts of their old oppressors. It will be a long time before things can be righted for the colored man South. Arrests are frequently made, and fines and punishments inflicted without any actual proof of guilt. For the slightest offence a colored man is sentenced for thirty days, or six months, to the chain gang. If it was made a punishment for white men also, the injustice would not be hard to bear, although I think the punishment under any circumstances should not be sanctioned...

Very truly yours,


Titles by Harriet A. Jacobs (Harriet Ann)