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Newspaper Clippings for

January, 1866

from the Waukegan Gazette13 January 1866


The Capacity of the Colored Person

to Receive Education
James Y. Cory-Dear Sir: Having had acquaintance with people of African decent and enjoyed uncommon opportunities to become acquainted with their normal character, I feel constrained at the present time, when there are so many conflicting opinions relative to their capacity to occupy the position and perform the duties of citizens, to state the honest convictions of my mind on the subject. Having for more than forty years been employed in teaching youth, and during most of that period having had a small number of colored scholars with the white, and for the last seven years of that period having had charge of a school consisting of colored youth only, I have observed their disposition and mental capacity in close connection with white scholars. All my pupils, without regard to color were subject to the same discipline, and instructed in all branches of science taught in common schools of New England, and I hesitate not to say that I could discover no inferiority of capacity in the colored youth to acquire knowledge of all branches taught in my school.

It is said if they had ability like our whites they would show it in the business and employments of society. But it may justly be said in their defense that a most cruel prejudice meets them at all the entries of honorable employment. The mechanic will not take the colored boy as an apprentice, though well qualified to acquire his trade. I speak advisedly on this point, having made several applications for colored born to those who professed great friendship for the colored race; the reply invariably was if I take a colored boy my present apprentices will not work with him, and it will ruin my business.

Prejudice thrusts the colored race out of every honorable employment and consigns them to the most menial offices in society-- And then we wonder why he does not rise to eminence.

Break the galling chains of prejudice color, give the African race a fair chance to show themselves, and they will acquire in due time an honorable and useful position in civilized community.

Wm. B. Dodge.

Millburn, Jan. 9th, 1866.
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