Appomattox in Appomattox County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
The First African American School in Appomattox
— Appomattox County —
The first school for African Americans in Appomattox County began near here. Before the Civil War's end, educational opportunities in rural Virginia were often limited for White residents and practically nonexistent for African Americans, enslaved or free. In Virginia, it was illegal to teach an enslaved person to read. Change marched to Appomattox in the form of General Ulysses S. Grant's armies, including more than 5,000 African American United States Colored Troops who helped block the escape route of Confederate forces.
In the war's aftermath, the federal government created the Freedmen's Bureau, in part to create educational opportunities for the newly freed people. Here in Appomattox, the first Freedmen's Bureau school opened in October 1865. Originally called the U.S. Grant School and later the Plymouth Rock School, this humble institution enrolled nearly 100 students in 1866. The school and its teacher, Charles McMahon from Massachusetts, faced and survived multiple threats and acts of violence.
Despite these challenges to formal education, White and Black state Republican congressmen required the
Erected by Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail. (Marker Number AP3.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Civil Rights • Education • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail, and the Former U.S. Presidents: #18 Ulysses S. Grant series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is October 1865.
Location. 37° 22.581′ N, 78° 48.142′ W. Marker is in Appomattox, Virginia, in Appomattox County. Marker is on Old Courthouse Road (Virginia Route 24) 0.2 miles east of Gordon Drive, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1258 Old Courthouse Rd, Appomattox VA 24522, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Wartime Landscape (here, next to this marker); Appomattox Confederate Cemetery Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Confederate Cemetery (within shouting distance of this marker); Appomattox (within shouting distance Appomattox Court House Confederate Cemetery (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); North Carolina (about 300 feet away); A Strategic Delay (about 300 feet away); Sears Lane (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Appomattox.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. This marker has replaced the linked marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 6, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 6, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 219 times since then and 76 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 6, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.