A paymaster told me that, under the order of General Saxton, permitting them to
apply for lands hereafter to be sold, the sum of $4,C00 has already been deposited by
freedmen. One man is now owner of the plantation of his former master, which he
purchased with money loaned him, and which he has now paid for by the earnings of
this year's crop.
What interested me most in what I saw, was the conviction, that here is being
worked out the problem of whether the black race is fitted for freedom. In many
respects the circumstances in this locality are such as to make the experiment peculiar¬
ly satisfactory. 1st, The colored people on these Islands are admitted to be inferior
to those in most portions of the South, partly because kept more degraded, and partly
because close intermarrying has caused them to deteriorate. 2dly, After being left
by their masters, they lived for a time under no kind of restraint. And 3dly, By a
well meant generosity, when first visited by our sympathy they were encouraged to
believe that they could live under freedom without the necessity of labor.
Yet, under all these disadvantages, the experiment has been a triumphant success—
apparent, beyond question, to any one who can observe.
To be sure, it can probably never happen that on any general scale, those who shall
give to the newly freed people their first instructions in freedom, shall be men and
women of such high character and ability as those who have undertaken it here. I
was amazed when I saw among the teachers and superintendents so many persons of
the very highest culture, and fitted for the very highest positions. I confess I felt
sometimes as though it was lavishing too much upon this work ; but then 1 considered
(what is now the great feeling with which I regard the whole thing) that this is a grand
experiment wThich is settling for the whole nation this great problem. And Avhen I
saw how completely it has settled it, I felt that it was worthy of all that had been
given. I believe that the importance of the movement is yet to be realized when the
operations on this field shall become the great example for every part of the land.
I am, with great respect, very truly yours,
Dr. LeBaron Russell, Bosto?i.
The following letter to the Treasurer of the Committee for Aid to the Freedmen of
the West, is from Mr. Edward S. Philbrick, one of the first company sent to Port
Royal by the Commission, in March, 1862. After a term of active and most efficient
service as Superintendent of Plantations under Gen. Saxton, Mr. Philbrick became
the purchaser, at the Goverrfment sale for taxes, of thirteen plantations, which he has
since conducted, with the result given below. Mr. Philbrick has treated the blacks
with great humanity, giving them liberal wage3, and paying for the support of teachers
out of his own funds.
Beaufort, S. C, Dec. 28, 1863.
Alpheus Hardy, Treasurer:
Dear Sir,—Enclosed please find my draft for one hundred dollars, for the re¬
lief of the families of Freedmen, in response to your circular. Please state to your
committee and to any other gentlemen interested in the question of free labor, that I
have disbursed the sum of $20,000 during the past nine months among the freedmen
here, in the shape of wages, well earned, besides which they have now on hand ample
provision to feed their families for twelve months to come, the fruit of their own toil.
I employ about 500 laborers—women and children, mostly, having a population of
920 on my lands.' They have raised for me 73,000 pounds of clean Sea Island cotton
this year, worth 5 Od. sterling in Liverpool, besides their own provision crops, above
referred to. This has been done in hearing of Gen. Gilmore's big guns on Morris
Island, surrounded by camps, with no civil law, and without the help of the able-bodied
men, who were all pressed into the military service, leaving the plantations with none
but old men, women and children. I have no paupers, all the old and infirm being
fed and clothed by their friends and children.
I mention these things to show how easy it is to render the negroes a self-supporting
and wealth-producing class with proper management; and I, at the same time, fully
appreciate the duty imposed upon us as a nation, to extend the area of charity where
the unsettled state of the country renders industry impossible until time is given to
re-organize and force to protect it. We are more fortunately situated than the people
of the Mississippi valley, and have got the start of them.
Respectfully yours, E. S. Philbrick.