Philadelphia: Merrihew & Thompson, 1863. First edition. Original paper wraps stitched at spine. Gently toned and with a small snag causing paper loss to the rear wrap and final two leaves with loss to the words "help" and "Next." Else an internally clean and complete copy of this rare piece of African American history documenting the efforts of the Port Royal Experiment following the area's abandonment by former slaveholders. Scarce at institutions and in the trade, the present is the only copy on the market.
Beginning in 1861, as the Union army began liberating the coast of South Carolina near the harbor of Port Royal, abolitionists initiated a program in which emancipated families worked land abandoned by former slaveholders. Known as the Port Royal Experiment, the program moved into full force in 1863 as the war ended, making it possible for freedmen to take full possession of the land as citizens. The present report was the first one compiled by the Philadelphia Freedmen's Relief Association; and it documents the difficult realities of transitioning a community from slavery to freedom. Providing training, food, and clothing to so many people -- even those who had money -- was a challenge in a region that had suffered wartime damage to infrastructure. Nevertheless, the report reveals the commitment on both sides to build up and help the Port Royal Experiment succeed; if it did, it was not only aid to those in South Carolina but could serve as an assistance model to other new communities. Near Fine (Item #2813)