Visionary educator opens landmark school for blacks in Hampton

Hampton University founder Samuel Chapman Armstrong was still new to the United States when — as a 23-year-old captain in the 125th New York Infantry — he encountered his first African-Americans in 1862.

At first he thought them worse heathens than the native Hawaiians he had grown up with — and that his missionary parents had devoted their lives to saving.

“Chum, I am a sort of abolitionist,” Armstrong told a friend in early 1863.

“But I haven’t learned to love the Negro.”

By the war’s end, however, his experiences leading black soldiers had so transformed his outlook that he became head of the Freedmen’s Bureau in Hampton, where he took on one of the agency’s toughest posts.

He changed…

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