The Beginning

During the first coupe of months that union troops occupied Roanoke Island over 200 slaves settled in camp close to union headquarters. Then by the end of the year it was more than 1,000 escaped slaves established on the island. Slaves came to the island after escaping their masters and came to Roanoke island not knowing anyone. Many of the slaves were strangers to one another, but had to come together to build a thriving community for themselves. The point of the colony was to experiment with African Americans building their own communities and learning to be self-sufficient. Though the union troops freed these slaves and gave them a place to live, they had to build their own homes, schools, and churches. After awhile and word got around the slave community about the island, more slaves came to the island. With all these slaves coming the union generals realized the need for control over the situation with the freedmen. In April 1863 Major General John G. Foster (as seen on main page) appointed Reverend Horace James to be "superintendent of all the blacks". Horace James was a evangelical congregationalist minister and abolitionist. All he wanted to see was a fully self-sufficient colony of freedmen. James created what resembled a New-England-style village on the north side of the island. He believed that with small plots of land, domestic manufacturing, shad fisheries and a saw mill, the island would thrive without outside assistance. Northern missionary teachers came from the north to help on the island. The main group were made up of 6 teachers, though there were 27 in all on the island. Union generals believed that educated African American freedmen would be better accepted into society if they were educated. And so the colony was born, and starting to look like a slap in the face to southerners who believed slavery was the only way.

Top Left: Colony housing on Roanoke island; Top Right: Reverend Horace James; Bottom: Freedmen school with missionary Teacher on the left


Created with images by sacks08 - "Fist of Freedom"

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