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Women and Freedmen's Aid after the Civil War

Document 7

Sept. 12, 1870.         


       DEAR SIR:--Much as I respect your judgement, and admire your candor, I must express entire dissent with your views in reference to those who are laboring to befriend the Freedmen, and also of your estimate of the character of the black race. 

       When you condemn my work for the old slaves, who can not labor, and are "crowded into Washington" by force of events uncontrollable, as a "great injury," I am at a loss to perceive your estimate of any and all benevolent action. If, to provide houses, food, clothing, and other physical comforts to those broken-down aged slaves whom we have liberated in their declining years, when all their strength is gone, and for whom no home, family friendship, or subsistence is furnished; if this is a "great injury," in my judgement there is no call for alms-house, hospital, home, or asylum in human society, and all appropriations of sympathy and material aid are worse than useless, and demand your earnest rebuke and discountenance, and to the unfortunates crowded into these institutions, you should say, "You must find work, go out and seek it. . . ."

       Is it possible that the swarming of the Irish, Swiss, and German poor, to the city of New York, is attributable to the intelligence offices and the immigration societies of your city, and not, as we have supposed, to the want of work and bread at home, and is there really a danger, that in providing and calculating for them, we shall strengthen the argument of race, while our institutions of charity are filled with descendants of the [Europeans]? I think not.

          Respectfully yours,            JOSEPHINE S. GRIFFING.

-- Letter from Josephine Griffing to Horace Greeley, 12 September 1870

14. To what other forms of public and private assistance does Griffing compare her work with freedmen and freedwomen?




15. Why does Griffing refer to New York City immigrants in her argument supporting aid to the freedmen and freedwomen in Washington D.C.?




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