Monday, October 16, 2006

Peter Randolph and the Freedman's Bureau

Walter Shurdan has an article about the extraordinary life of Peter Randolph, "A Baptist Most Readers Have Never Heard of" in the October 2006 issue of the Baptist Studies Bulletin.

Randolph was a slave who became a Baptist preacher and wrote an autobiography entitled, "From Slave Cabin to the Pulpit." The biography has been published online by the University of North Carolina. Shurden advises, "Don't read it after dinner, because it will sour your supper!" He's right. The most unsettling passages you'll have to read for yourself.

Here's a quote from a chapter where Randolph talks about his work with the Freedman's Bureau after the slaves were emancipated:

The Freedman's Bureau was only a temporary arrangement intended to help relieve the condition of the ex-slaves. While it had the means to do so it was inestimable to the poor and needy. But soon the sources of supply failed and the important work was abandoned. This made the suffering and needs of the people more intense than ever. Many had to go back to their former masters to work or starve, and many of the whites tried to make the Negroes feel that freedom was worse than slavery.

In slavery times the masters would see to it, that the slaves were fed--that is, with such as they had to give them, but now, they would see them starve. It is not hard to understand this state of affairs, when one thinks of the situation; here the whites were smarting under their defeat, the Negroes, who were their main support, were taken away from them as slaves and goods of chattel, but still remained at their doors. The unvented wrath they had for the Yankees, for meddling with their pet institution, was poured out on the poor Negroes. (pp. 63-64)

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