Annual Report of the National Freedman’s Relief Association

Publication Year: 1863

National Freedman's Relief Association of the District of Columbia. First Annual Report (Washington, D.C.: M'Gill & Witherow, 1863).   
PHS Call number: PAM E 185.2 .N2 D3 1863

Source note

Abolitionists founded The National Freedman’s Relief Association of the District of Columbia in March of 1862 in response to the increasing numbers of fugitive slaves coming into Washington, D.C. during the Civil War. The association was a private entity, operating independently from the government, and was concerned first and foremost with meeting the basic physical needs of thousands of people newly escaped from slavery. In addition to providing food, shelter, and clothing, the association also opened schools and provided religious and moral guidance. Among the officers of the Association were prominent members of the Republican government, including George E. Baker of the State Department and the Association’s late president, Hannibal Hamlin (1809-1863), who had also worked for the Treasury Department. 

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Reading questions

1.    Who is the intended audience of this report?

2.    What was the mission of the Freedman’s Relief Association of the District of Columbia (page 1)?

3.    What patterns do you notice in the list of people who donated money, clothing, or other goods to the Association (page 4)?

4.    What were the estimates of the numbers of freedmen/contraband in Washington, D.C. and Alexandria (page 5)?

5.    What conditions does the report describe in the freedmen camps (page 5)?

6.    How has the Association addressed the need for education for the newly freed children and adults (page 6)?

7.    What possible concern among white Americans does the report address on page 7 when it states that the freedmen are ready and willing to work, but still need financial support, clothing, and shelter as they transition from slavery to freedom?

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Source type
History Topics
Abolition and Anti-slavery
African American History
Civil War
Time Period
Slavery, Sectionalism, and Social Reform (1815-1861)