Welcome to Character Corner. Here you can meet characters from my current or upcoming releases and learn more about what makes them tick. Please note the links to additional vignettes in the sidebar.
Educating Freedmen from Short-Straw Bride
Near the end of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln initiated the Freedmen's Bureau Bill, intending it to last for one year to help newly emancipated slaves adjust to life as free citizens. On March 3, 1865, Congress passed the bill and created the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. This soon became known as the Freedmen's Bureau. It was a key agency during Reconstruction, lending aid to former slaves in obtaining food, housing, education, health care, employment, and even worked to reunite families that had been separated. However, instead of lasting a single year as Lincoln had originally conceived, the Bureau operated for six years, not disbanding until 1871.
The most significant achievements of the Bureau occurred in the field of education. By the end of 1865, 90,000 former slaves were enrolled in public schools. They had a deep hunger for learning, having been denied the opportunity while they were slaves. Children and adults alike sought education and were willing to sacrifice much to obtain it. Some of the teachers were educated blacks, some were women, but the majority consisted of southern white men. Meredith's father, Theodore Hayes, was such a man.
Passionate about the power of education to change lives, Theodore Hayes dedicated his life to teaching freedmen. Even after the Bureau closed in 1871, he continued to run his small black school in Anderson County, Texas. His adult students scraped together what they could to pay his salary, and when an illness took his life, one of the women who had studied under him endeavored to keep the school going.
Meredith shared her father's passion and desired to follow in his footsteps. She trained to be a teacher, but never took her qualifying exams due to the sudden death of her parents. When she is reunited with some of the students from her father's school, however, those dormant dreams surge back to life and give her a renewed sense of purpose and direction. And a point of contention with her new husband.