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Women and Freedmen's Aid after the Civil War

Document 1

APPEAL ON BEHALF OF THE FREEDMEN OF WASHINGTON, D.C.

       The population of Washington, at the last census, was, Whites 60,000, Free Colored, 14,000, and from a recent partial census by the War Department it appears that not less than 25,000 have been added. . . . A host of miserable women, with large families of children, besides old, crippled, blind and sick persons, have been driven out of Maryland and sought refuge here. Most of these people have exhibited industry and thrift beyond the expectation of their friends, paying, generally by day's labor--often difficult to obtain--for shanties, garrets, cellars and stables--unfit for human beings to live in--an average rent of $5 to $6 per month.

       At the commencement of the winter of 1864, upon personal examination, I found nine hundred families, with an average number of five children, without wood or the means to obtain it; half that number without beds or blankets, and as many without bread or the means of subsistence.  At the same time it was found that thousands of women and children of the latest arrivals were without a change of clothing, and large numbers had no under clothing at all.  A number of infants, of only a few days old, were found without a garment, and in this condition many perished from the cold.  Hundreds of old persons and children were without shoes and stockings, and being badly frost bitten, several had their limbs amputated in consequence, and are crippled for life . . . .

       There has been no material change in the condition and wants of these poor people since last winter, except that labor is not so easily found since the close of the war as before. Persons of the above descriptions are almost daily coming in from Virginia and Maryland, clothed, of course, in rags . . . .

       The bureau of Freedmen has no appropriation from Congress to meet the wants of these wretched men, women and children. Maj. Gen. Howard, in his circular no. 2, distinctly states this, and also invites the benevolent public, and associations already organized for Freedmen's aid, to cooperate in giving the needed relief to these sufferers until compensating labor can be found for them.       -- MRS. JOSEPHINE S. GRIFFING

"Appeal on Behalf of the Freedmen of Washington, D.C.,"
The Liberator
, 3 November 1865, pp. 174-75

1.  According to Griffing, what kinds of assistance do the freedmen and freedwomen need from both government and private charity?

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2.  What economic conditions make it difficult for the freedmen and freedwomen to provide for their own needs?

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3.  Why must Griffing ask for private charitable contributions for aid to freedmen and freedwomen?

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