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The educational needs of the Freedman have called forth several large benefactions from individual contributors. George Peabody of Danvers, Massachusetts, in 1867 and 1869, established a fund of $3,500,000 for the promotion of general education in the South. One half of this amount happened to prove unavailable. A large part of the remainder was used in the establishment and endowment of the Peabody teachers college for whites at Nashville, Tennessee, leaving only a small part of it for use among the Freedmen.
In 1882, John F. Slater of Norwich, Connecticut, created a trust fund of $1,000,000, for the purpose of uplifting the emancipated population of the southern states and their posterity. The income of this fund, now increased to $1,500,000, is used to promote normal and industrial education.
In 1888 Daniel Hand of Guilford, Connecticut, gave the American Missionary Association of the Congregational Church $1,000,000, and a residuary estate of $500,000 to aid in the education of the Negro.
In 1895 Miss Emiline Cushing of Boston left $23,000 for the same object.
In 1907 Miss Anna T. Jeanes of Philadelphia, Pa., left an endowment fund of $1,000,000 to aid in maintaining elementary schools among the Freedmen. Booker T. Washington was named as one of two trustees of this fund. Its distribution contemplates a three fold plan. First, something additional is to be secured from the school authorities. Second, the co-operative efforts of the people are essential. Third, the effectiveness of the school is improved and its neighborhood influence widened by the introduction of industrial features. In 1911, the income from this fund was so widely distributed as to reach the work in as many as 111 counties in 12 different states; and summer schools were aided in six of them.
In 1909 Miss Caroline Phelps Stokes created a fund of $300,000 for the erection of tenement houses in New York City; and the education of Negroes and Indians, through industrial schools.
From 1902 to 1909, John D. Rockefeller gave $53,000,000 to establish a fund for the promotion of general education in the United States. The schools of the Freedmen have received from this fund $532,015.
The Freedmen have fallen heir to the estates of some free Negroes, that became wealthy. It is interesting to note the following ones:
- Tommy Lafon of New Orleans, a dealer in dry goods and real estate, in 1893, left for charitable purposes among his people, an estate appraised at $413,000.
- Mary E. Shaw of New York City, left Tuskegee Colored Institute $38,000.
- Col. John McKee of Philadelphia, at his death in 1902, left about $1,000,000 worth of property for education, including a provision for the establishment of a college to bear his name.
- Anna Marie Fisher, of Brooklyn, N. Y., in 1911, having an estate of $65,000 left $26,000 for educational institutions.
The successful achievement of these four free Negroes and their generous regard for the welfare of their kin-folks, suggest the possibilities of which they are capable, as financiers and philanthropists, when circumstances are favorable.