Nova Scotia Archives

African Nova Scotians

in the Age of Slavery and Abolition


Establishment of the Negroes in Nova Scotia Appendix 22

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NEGROES—MARCH, 1841

To the Honorable the General Assembly now convened at Halifax; the Petition of the Reverend Robert Willis, Doctor of Divinity, Rector of St. Paul's Church, Halifax, and Archdeacon of Nova Scotia,
Humbly Showeth,

      That the African School which has hitherto been favoured with the approbation, and fostered by the aid of your Honorable Assembly, exhibits most satisfactory indications of increasing prosperity and usefulness.

      That although the number of day-scholars is such as to render the school-room, in its present state, inconveniently crowded and hot, and thereby to augment the labours of the master and mistress, while those labours are consequently made more than usually wearing and oppressive, —the master, nevertheless, with indefatigable, and meritorious but unremunerated zeal, devotes four evenings of the week to the arduous and engrossing task of teaching a night-school.

      That in this night-school there are fifty learners, a great majority of whom are adults, who are living at service, and are indebted to the kindness of considerate employers for being thus permitted to redeem time which might have been lost, or to avail themselves of advantages which may never have heretofore been presented to them.

      That a plan for rebuilding the school-house has undergone consideration, and would have been executed but for the hope that by delay such additions might be made to the building-fund as would provide an Institution not merely adequate to all the wants of the People of Colour in Halifax, but capable of becoming a Normal or Training School, in which masters might be qualified for the numerous Coloured Settlements in Nova Scotia, —whose claims your Petitioner incidentally but respectfully now introduces to the notice of your Honorable Assembly.

      That as an instance of these claims your Petitioner will mention only the case of Port La Tour; from which place two or three coloured persons happened to be in Halifax in the course of last year, and having visited the African School here, they were (on witnessing the privileges which their more fortunate brethren were enjoying) so impressed 'with the advantages of knowledge, that they became actually importunate for the establishment of a similar Institution in their own neighbourhood.

      That they instantly on their return to Port LaTour represented to the rest of the coloured people there the importance of Education, and by a laudable union of exertion a school-house was built, and School was opened, in perfecting which your Petitioner would have gladly assisted, if there had been at his disposal any pecuniary resources available for so desirable an object.

      That your Petitioner being aware of the likelihood that the general system of Education, throughout the Province, will be subjected to revision under the wisdom of your Honorable Assembly, ventures to express his earnest hope that no alteration or modification of the existing principle will deprive the African School in Ha1ifax of the full amount of that support, which the liberality of your Honorable Assembly has hitherto bestowed upon it, and to which the peculiar condition of the People of Colour justly entitles it.

      That your Petitioner gratefully acknowledges the obligations of the African School to the Members of your Honorable Assembly who have kindly and frequently visited the Institution, and have thereby greatly encouraged both the teachers and scholars; and your Petitioner respectfully solicits a repetition of such visits, that the rapid improvement of the children may be satisfactorily ascertained, and that it may be evinced that his statements are not overcharged, and that the continual, and praiseworthy, and successful exertions of the Master and Mistress are not in any degree accentuated.

Robert Willis

Halifax March 1, 1841.



transcribed by Nova Scotia Archives staff 2004

Date: Publication No. 8, Halifax, N.S., The Public Archives of Nova Scotia, 1948

Author: Prepared by C.B. Fergusson, Assistant Archivist under the direction of D.C. Harvey, Archivist

Reference no.: Commissioner of Public Records  Nova Scotia Archives  RG 1 vol. 297 no. 160 (microfilm no. 15382)