Interest in the freedom seekers of Mitchelville and the surrounding areas led to an outpouring of assistance from Northern missionaries and abolitionists. They organized and sent aid and teachers. Newspaper reporters came to document conditions among the refugee slaves. Government officials and notable abolitionists also visited Mitchelville to support its residents.
On April 13, 1865, the day before President Lincoln was shot, abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Theodore Tilton visited Mitchelville and attended a church service there. John G. Nicolay, former secretary to President Lincoln and then consul to Paris, also attended. The Rev Abraham Mercherson, the pastor and Mayor of Mitchelville, led the congregation in prayer.
(top) William Lloyd Garrison, The New York Commercial Advertiser, April 24, 1865 from Mitchelville: Mr. Garrison was rapturously welcomed, and began his address by reading Moses' triumphal song, Exodus XV, and then, for a half an hour, magnetized his colored constituents, as he detailed the early history of the anti-slavery movement in America. He stated that he believed the colored people were happy to have the franchise at Mitchelville.
(bottom left) Sen. Simon Cameron, Secretary of War for Lincoln from 1861 to 1862, visited Mitchelville
as part of a Congressional visit to the South after the war. He attended church with the freedmen and contributed money towards a new chapel that the grateful church named St. Simons in his honor. Image courtesy of The Library of Congress.
Harriet Tubman, c. 1880. Tubman came to Hilton Head Island in 1862 and worked behind the Confederate lines. She also worked to convince others to become spies and scouts for the Union army. She led a battle on the Combahee River resulting in the freeing of over 800 African slaves.
Image courtesy of The Library of Congress.