The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 19, July 1915 - April, 1916 Page: 440

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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly

The Education of the Negro Prior to. 1861: A History of the
Education of the Colored People of the United States
from the Beginning of Slavery to the Civil War. By Car-
ter Godwin Woodson, Ph. D. (New York and London:
G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1915. Pp. v, 454. $2.00.)
This book is an important contribution to the history of the
negro race in America. Beginning with the efforts of benevolent
clergymen to instruct the first comers from Africa in the rudi-
ments of learning in order to prepare them, for an understand-
ing of the Christian religion, the author traces throughout the
slavery era the slow and uncertain progress of the negro in the
pursuit of the white man's learning. Naturally, progress was
uneven. The author shows how religious conviction, political phi-
losophy, social prejudice, the development of the plantation sys-
tem, abolitionist ardor and the newer slave code in turn had to
do not only with the quantity of instruction that was allowed the
negro but also with the character of it. It is not necessary to
follow his story here. Its trend is sufficiently indicated in cer-
tain of the chapter headings: "Religion with Letters," "Edu-
cating the Urban Negro," "The Reaction," "Religion without
Letters," "Learning in Spite of Opposition," "Educating Negroes
Transplanted to Free Soil," "Higher Education," "Vocational
Training," "Education at Public Expense." There is a long
appendix of documents which illustrates various phases of negro-
education propaganda. The book is supplied with an extensive
bibliography and a fair index.
The author has evidently been at pains to tell his story accu-
rately. He has searched widely and collected an abundance of
material. Although his style can not be termed eloquent or pol-
ished, in the main it is clear and readable. Of a doctor of
philosophy of one of America's greatest institutions of learning,
these things were to be expected. Of a negro, it is hardly to be
expected, perhaps, that he should write in scientific detachment,
without racial bias.
Of the failure to pass this test of historical scholarship the


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 19, July 1915 - April, 1916, periodical, 1916; Austin, Texas. ( accessed October 26, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.