Freedmen, Florida education, Reconstruction, Florida history, teachers, northern reformers
As the Civil War closed and Reconstruction began, a small army of teachers arrived in Florida. Under the auspices of northern aid societies, churches, and educational associations, they proposed to educate the newly emancipated slaves, believing that education would prepare African Americans for citizenship. Teachers found Florida's freedmen determined to acquire literacy by whatever means they could, but they faced a white populace resistant to outsiders. Reformers, politicians, literate blacks, and Yankee businessmen intent on socially, politically, and economically transforming Florida joined educators in reconstructing Florida. Florida's educational system transformed during Reconstruction, and an examination of the reciprocity between Reconstruction-era teachers and Florida's freedmen provides a window into how Florida's learning community changed. Teachers exerted a profound influence on Florida's freedmen and on the development of Florida's educational system. But it was not simply a matter of outsiders transforming freedmen. While previous writers have emphasized the teachers' limitations, conservatism, or sacrifice, this study examines the complex interplay, and at times mutual dependence, between northern reformers and freedmen. Teachers partnered with Florida's black community, which was determined to seize education by whatever means available; they joined with the state's white community, struggling to come to terms with radical social changes; and they worked with Yankee strangers, who saw education of freedmen as an opportunity to transform the state politically. The reciprocal process of social change created a new politically charged educational system in Florida.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Wakefield, Laura, "Set A Light In A Dark Place: Teachers Of Freedmen In Florida, 1863-18" (2004). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 258.