Mary S. Peake
Mary Smith Peake, born Mary Smith Kelsey, was an American teacher, humanitarian and a member of the black elite in Hampton, best known for starting a school for the children of former slaves starting in the fall of 1861 under what became known as the Emancipation Oak tree in present-day Hampton, Virginia near Fort Monroe. The first teacher hired by the American Missionary Association, she was a associated with its founding of Hampton University in 1868. Mary Smith Kelsey was born free in Virginia, her father was an Englishman "of rank and culture" and her mother was a free woman of color, described as light-skinned. When Mary was six, her mother sent her to Alexandria to attend school. Living with her aunt Mary Paine, Kelsey studied for about ten years; the US Congress enacted a law prohibiting free people of color in the District of Columbia from being educated. The new law closed all schools for free blacks in that city, as had happened in Virginia after the Nat Turner Rebellion of 1831. In 1839, at age sixteen Mary Kelsey returned to live with her mother.
Despite the risk, she secretly taught slaves and free blacks to read and write, prohibited by law. She believed. In 1847 her mother married Thompson Walker and the family moved to Hampton, where they bought a house. In the 1850s she secretly began teaching enslaved and free black Americans and she was one of a number of black women whose teaching was, a few years officially sanctioned by the Union army as the United States entered the Civil War. There Kelsey founded a women's charitable organization, called the Daughters of Zion, whose mission was to assist the poor and the sick, she continued to teach in secret. Among her adult students was her stepfather Thompson Walker, who more became a leader of the blacks in Hampton. In 1851 Kelsey married Thomas Peake, a freed slave who worked in the merchant marine, they had a daughter named Hattie, whom they nicknamed "Daisy". During the American Civil War, Union forces maintained control of nearby Fort Monroe, which became a place of refuge for escaped slaves' seeking asylum.
The Union defined them as "contraband", a legal status to prevent their being returned to Confederate slaveholders. They built the Grand Contraband Camp near but outside the protection of Fort Monroe. Mary Peake started teaching the children of former slaves and the American Missionary Association paid her some salary and gave support as its first black teacher, she began teaching outside on September 17, 1861 under a large oak tree in Phoebus, a small town nearby in Elizabeth City County. In 1863, the Virginia Peninsula community gathered under this tree to hear the first Southern reading of President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, it became known as the Emancipation Oak. Soon the AMA provided Peake with Brown Cottage, long considered the first facility of Hampton Institute. Both children and adults were eager to learn: Mary Peake's school taught more than fifty children during the day and twenty adults at night. Although ill, Peake continued teaching. On Washington's birthday, February 22, 1862, Peake died of tuberculosis, which she had contracted before the war.
The historic Emancipation Oak is located on the campus of Hampton University in what is now the City of Hampton. It is designated a National Historic Landmark by the Department of the Interior and one of the 10 Great Trees of the World by the National Geographic Society. Reverend Lewis C. Lockwood, Mary S. Peake, the Colored Teacher at Fortress Monroe. Lockwood was the first missionary to the freedmen at Fort Monroe and admired Peake, his biography of her is available at Project Gutenberg. The Mary Peake Center of Hampton Public Schools is named in her honor. Mary Peake Boulevard in Hampton was named in her honor. Mary Peake Center, Hampton Public Schools Hampton University official websiteRev. Lewis C. Lockwood. Mary S. Peake, The Colored Teacher at Fortress Monroe at Project Gutenberg "Mary S. Peake and Charlotte L. Forten: Black Teachers During the Civil War and Reconstruction"
Hampton University is a private black university in Hampton, Virginia. It was founded in 1868 by black and white leaders of the American Missionary Association after the American Civil War to provide education to freedmen, it is home to the Hampton University Museum, the oldest museum of the African diaspora in the United States, the oldest museum in the state of Virginia. In 1878, it established a program for teaching Native Americans that lasted until 1923; the campus looking south across the harbor of Hampton Roads was founded on the grounds of "Little Scotland", a former plantation in Elizabeth City County not far from Fortress Monroe and the Grand Contraband Camp that gathered nearby. These facilities represented freedom to former slaves, who sought refuge with Union forces during the first year of the war; the American Missionary Association responded in 1861 to the former slaves' need for education by hiring its first teacher, Mary Smith Peake, who had secretly been teaching slaves and free blacks in the area despite the state's prohibition in law.
She first taught for the AMA on September 17, 1861, was said to gather her pupils under a large oak. After the tree was the site of the first reading in the former Confederate states of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, it was called the Emancipation Oak; the tree, now a symbol of the university and of the city, is part of the National Historic Landmark District at Hampton University. The Hampton Agricultural and Industrial School called the Hampton Institute, was founded in 1868 after the war by the biracial leadership of the AMA, who were chiefly Congregational and Presbyterian ministers, it was first led by former Union General Samuel Chapman Armstrong. Among the school's famous alumni is Dr. Booker T. Washington, an educator who founded the Tuskegee Institute. During the American Civil War, Union-held Fortress Monroe in southeastern Virginia at the mouth of Hampton Roads became a gathering point and safe haven of sorts for fugitive slaves; the commander, General Benjamin F. Butler, determined they were "contraband of war", to protect them from being returned to slaveholders, who clamored to reclaim them.
As numerous individuals sought freedom behind Union lines, the Army arranged for the construction of the Grand Contraband Camp nearby, from materials reclaimed from the ruins of Hampton, burned by the retreating Confederate Army. This area was called "Slabtown."Hampton University traces its roots to the work of Mary S. Peake, which began in 1861 with outdoor classes which she taught under the landmark Emancipation Oak in the nearby area of Elizabeth City County; the newly issued Emancipation Proclamation was first read to a gathering under the historic tree there in 1863. After the War, a normal school was formalized in 1868, with former Union brevet Brigadier General Samuel C. Armstrong as its first principal; the new school was established on the grounds of a former plantation named "Little Scotland", which had a view of Hampton Roads. The original school buildings fronted the Hampton River. Chartered in 1870 as a land grant school, it was first known as Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute.
Typical of black colleges, Hampton received much of its financial support in the years following the Civil War from the American Missionary Association, other church groups and former officers and soldiers of the Union Army. One of the many Civil War veterans who gave substantial sums to the school was General William Jackson Palmer, a Union cavalry commander from Philadelphia, he built the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, founded Colorado Springs, Colorado. As the Civil War began in 1861, although his Quaker upbringing made Palmer abhor violence, his passion to see the slaves freed compelled him to enter the war, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in 1894. Unlike the wealthy Palmer, Sam Armstrong was the son of a missionary to the Sandwich Islands, he had dreams for the betterment of the freedmen. He patterned his new school after the model of his father, who had overseen the teaching of reading and arithmetic to the Polynesians, he wanted to teach the skills necessary for blacks to be self-supporting in the impoverished South.
Under his guidance, a Hampton-style education became well known as an education that combined cultural uplift with moral and manual training. Armstrong said it was an education that encompassed "the head, the heart, the hands." At the close of its first decade, the school reported a total admission in the ten years of 927 students, with 277 graduates, all but 17 of whom had become teachers. Many of them had established themselves in homes. Only a small proportion failed to do well. By another 10 years, there had been over 600 graduates. In 1888, of the 537 still alive, three-fourths were teaching, about half as many undergraduates were teaching, it was estimated that 15,000 children in community schools were being taught by Hampton's students and alumni that year. Among Hampton's earliest students was Booker T. Washington, who arrived from West Virginia in 1872 at the age of 16, he worked his way through Hampton, went on to attend Wayland Seminary in Washington D. C. After graduation, he became a teacher.
Upon recommendation of Sam Armstrong to the founder Lewis Adams and others, of a small new school in Tuskegee Alabama that had begun in 1874. In 1881, Washington went to Tuskegee at age 25 to strengthe
Hampton is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 137,436; as one of the seven major cities that compose the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, it is on the southeastern side of the Virginia Peninsula. Hampton traces its history to the city's Old Point Comfort, the home of Fort Monroe for 400 years, named by the 1607 voyagers, led by Captain Christopher Newport, who first established Jamestown as an English colonial settlement. Since consolidation in 1952, Hampton has included the former Elizabeth City County and the incorporated town of Phoebus, consolidated by a mutual agreement. After the end of the American Civil War, historic Hampton University was established opposite from the town on the Hampton River, providing an education for many newly-freed former slaves and for area Native Americans. In the 20th century, the area became the location of Langley Air Force Base, NASA Langley Research Center, the Virginia Air and Space Center.
Hampton features many miles of waterfront and beaches. For residents and visitors alike, the city features a wide array of business and industrial enterprises and residential areas, historical sites. Most the new Peninsula Town Center development opened in May 2010 on the site of the former Coliseum Mall. Located in the area adjacent to the Hampton Coliseum and the Convention Center, the new urbanism-type project features a wide mix of retail stores and other attractions. Development of new residential development and additional public facilities are underway at Buckroe Beach, long a noted resort area. Located on the Hampton Roads Beltway, it hosts the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel on Interstate 64. First opened in 1957, it was the world's first bridge-tunnel, crossing the mouth of the Hampton Roads harbor, which serves as the gateway to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean from the eastern United States' largest ice-free harbor and its tributary rivers. Expanded in the 1970s, the HRBT remains deepest such facility.
In December 1606, three ships carrying men and boys left England on a mission sponsored by a proprietary company. Lead by Captain Christopher Newport, they sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to North America. After a long voyage, they first landed at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay on the south shore at a place they named Cape Henry. During the first few days of exploration, they identified the site of Old Point Comfort as a strategic defensive location at the entrance to the body of water that became known as Hampton Roads; this is formed by the confluence of the Elizabeth and James rivers. The latter is the longest river in Virginia. Weeks on May 14, 1607, they established the first permanent English settlement in the present-day United States about 25 miles further inland from the Bay which became the site of fortifications during the following 200 years. South, near the entrance to Hampton River, the colonists seized the Native American community of Kecoughtan under Virginia's Governor, Sir Thomas Gates.
The colonists established their own small town, with a small Anglican church, on July 9, 1610. This came to be known as part of Hampton.. Hampton was named for Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, an important leader of the Virginia Company of London, for whom the Hampton River, Hampton Roads and Southampton County were named; the area became part of Elizabeth Cittie in 1619, Elizabeth River Shire in 1634, was included in Elizabeth City County when it was formed in 1643. By 1680, the settlement was known as Hampton, it was incorporated as a town in 1705 and became the seat of Elizabeth City County. In the latter part of August 1619, an English ship flying a Dutch flag, the White Lion, appeared off shore from Point Comfort, its cargo included 20 plus Africans captured from the slave ship Sao Joao Bautista. These were the first Africans to come ashore on English-occupied land in what would become the United States. John Rolfe, the widower of Pocahontas, wrote in a letter that he was at Point Comfort and witnessed the arrival of the first Africans.
Although these first Bantu men from Angola were considered indentured servants, their arrival marked the beginning of slavery in North America. Two of the first Africans to arrive at Old Point Comfort in 1619 were Isabella, their child, the first of African descent born in North America, was born baptized January 1624. Shortly after the War of 1812, the US Army built a more substantial stone facility at Old Point Comfort, it was called Fort Monroe in honor of President James Monroe. The new installation and adjacent Fort Calhoun were completed in 1834. Fort Monroe and the surrounding area played several important roles during the American Civil War. Although most of Virginia became part of the Confederate States of America, Fort Monroe remained in Union hands, it became notable as a historic and symbolic site of early freedom for former slaves under the provisions of contraband policies and the Emancipation Proclamation. After the War, former Confederate President, Jefferson Davis was imprisoned in the area now known as the Casemate Museum on the base.
To the south of Fort Monroe, the Town of Hampton had the misfortune to be burned during both the American Revolutionary War and the American Civil War. From the ruins of Hampton left by evacuating Confederate