Sunday, July 17, 2016

Miss B. L. Canedy, July 27, 1863

Newbern, N. C, July 27th, 1863.

It is not yet a week since Mr. Doolittle opened the school of which Miss Ropes and myself have charge, and to-day we had 258 pupils in attendance, and managed to give to each a morsel of the food for which they are so hungry. The avidity with which they grasp at the least shadow of knowledge is intensely interesting. Once supplied with a book, and the work of school government is at an end. One of my “1st class,” aged 25, can read with a good deal of readiness, and the only book he had ever seen until yesterday, is a fragment of an old dictionary; and when I put into his hands a “Third Reader” (Wilson's Series) the strong man wept for joy. In our school the ages range from 5 to 45, and as far as I can judge at present, they will soon leave white pupils far behind.

Every hour spent with them is a fresh surprise, and a new cause for gratitude that I am here. I suffer no inconvenience from the climate, and have but one regret in connection with being here, and that is that I have not a whole fresh life to give to this noble work.

B. L. C.

SOURCE: New-England Educational Commission for Freedmen, Extracts from Letters of Teachers and Superintendents of the New-England Educational Commission for Freedmen, Fourth Series, January 1, 1864, p. 7

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