In order justly to estimate the present state of education and progress among the freedmen of the United States, we must glance back to the condition in which they were under slavery. A slave could hold no property, had no rights, could not testify either in a court of justice or a Christian church, could not contract a legal marriage, had no legal rights over his children - in short, was a human being carefully, legally, and systematically despoiled of everyright of humanity.
...In the Northern States, the colored people were generally disfranchised, and, if not forbidden education by law, were repelled from the schools by prejudice, and prejudices apparently far more bitter at the North than at the South.
In 1832 [sic] Miss Prudence Crandall undertook to open a private boarding-school for young colored girls in Canterbury, Connecticut. The enterprise was denounced in advance, by the people of this place, in a public meeting. When the term opened, with fifteen or twenty young girls from Philadelphia, Boston, New York, and Providence, storekeepers, butchers, milkmen, and farmers, with one consent, refused to sell provisions to the school, and supplies had to be brought from expensive distances. The scholars were insulted in the streets; the door-steps and doors were besmeared with filth, and the well filled with the same; the village doctor refused to visit the sick pupils; and the trustees of the church forbade them to set foot in their building. The house was assaulted by a mob with clubs and iron bars; they broke the glass of the windows and terrified the inmates. Finally, the State Legislature passed an act making this school an illegal enterprise, and under this act Miss Crandall was imprisoned in the county jail.
This apparently unaccountable sensitiveness of the Northern mind becomes intelligible when we consider that there were as [many] slaveholders in the Northern as the Southern States. Negro slaves were the assets of every Southern estate, plantation, and firm; they were offered as security for debt, and the large commercial business of the North with the South was carried upon this basis. There were abundance of rich slaveholders in Northern churches, who felt with the keen instinct of self-interest anything which interfered with their gains, and who did not wish to have trouble of conscience, and they hated the negro because he aroused this uncomfortable faculty. The Northern abolitionist proclaimed that to buy, hold, or sell a human being for gains was a sin against God, and, like all other sins, to be immediately repented of and forsaken. Now, when a New York merchant got a letter from his lawyer, apprising him that he had taken twenty thousand dollars' worth of negroes as security for his debt, and returned answer to sell and remit, it was but natural that he should hereafter be very excitable under such teachings, and denounce them as incendiary and fanatical. The bitterness of Southern slaveholders was tempered by many considerations of kindness for servants born in their houses, or upon their estates; but the Northern slaveholder traded in men and women whom he never saw, andof whose separations, tears, and miseries he determined never to hear.