In “Experiment in Freedom,” we learn about the citizens of Mitchelville, South Carolina – all newly freed slaves early in the Civil War. When the Union Army takes control of Hilton Head Island off the coast of South Carolina, they have the challenge of what to do with the over 1,000 freed slaves that remained behind. General Mitchel proposes that they form their own town – governed and run by the ex-slaves themselves. This is a bold move, to be sure – but one that brings with it surprising success.
Note: Though this is historical fiction and the characters have been developed to accommodate a story, their attributes and development may be useful as reference points and inspirations.
TOPICS FOR INVESTIGATION
- S. Carolina History
- Civil War History
- History of slave trade in America
History and culture of the Gullah people of the coastal south.
S. Carolina Geography
- Slave Trade Routes from west Africa to the Caribbean Islands and South America to Charleston, South Carolina.
- The Coastal Islands of the Carolinas
- Map of historic Gullah region as compared to modern day
“Experiment in Freedom” Study Topics - The Gullah language and culture - Other models of reconstruction after the Civil War.
TOPICS FOR REFLECTION
From a Child Development Perspective:
In this story, your child might learn that:
New ideas come to life from the single seed of someone having the courage to voice an opinion. All it then takes is a small number of others to believe that it is worth taking the risk to test the idea. Ormsby Mitchel had such a new idea for Mitchelville. Change will not happen without new ideas and a few people willing to test the waters. Don't hold back just because the idea seems outlandish. It could change the world!
Sometimes it is not obvious how to solve a problem, so you have to think outside of the box. Thinking outside of the box means that you don't choose the obvious solution or follow the strategies that have worked in the past.
Don't underestimate what your capacities are until you step into a new role and try! And don't underestimate the capacities of others until they too have had a chance to grow. In Mitchellville, South Carolina ex-slaves were put in positions of government, and although they had not been trained for this, they were more than capable. This is, in its essence, the American story – learning new skills and rising above any limited expectations.
People coming together and banding around when idea with unification and enthusiasm can make change happen at breakneck speed! Mitchelville came into being in a flash when there was unification and cooperation.
Listen deeply to the life stories of others. The citizens of Mitchelville all had rich and honorable pasts. Even when they were dishonored, they held a sense of pride, and their legacy lived in them to become successful citizens of Mitchelville.
Going to school are having a school in your home is nothing to take for granted. Mitchellville was the only community in all of South Carolina to have mandatory schooling for the children, and the children were considered so very fortunate to be educated, just as you are.
Sometimes compromises need to be made. This story is about not everything working out in the end like we would always wanted to. Things didn't get easier for the people of Mitchelville. Gabriel’s greed was hard, government officials and aggressive behavior meddled with the town, but still the citizens of Mitchellville was proud of what they built.
Hope doesn't always make sense, but sometimes it's all you've got. New ideas come to life from the single seed of someone having the courage to voice an opinion. All it then takes is a small number of others to believe that it is worth taking the risk to test the idea. Ormsby Mitchel had such a new idea for Mitchelville. Change will not happen without new ideas and a few people willing to test the waters. Don't hold back just because the idea seems outlandish. It could change the world!
About the Authors
David Sewell McCann
David Sewell McCann fell in love with spinning stories in first grade – the day a storyteller came to his class and captured his mind and imagination. He has been engaged in storytelling all of his adult life through painting, film-making, teaching and performing. Out of his experience as a Waldorf elementary class teacher and parent, he has developed a four step method of intuitive storytelling, which he now shares through workshops and through this website.
Meredith has been working with adults and children of all ages for the past 25 years as a Waldorf Teacher and Educational Consultant. She received a B.A. with a focus on child development and child psychology from the University of Michigan, in 1984, an M.A. Ed from Washington University in 1987, and her Waldorf Teaching Certificate from the Lehrerausbildung (Teacher Training) in Nurnberg, Germany in 1989. She was certified as a Living Inquiries Facilitator in 2014, and she completed her formal teaching certification with The Enneagram Institute in 2014. Her work in the classroom and with individuals and groups is designed to help people of all ages to drop self-limiting beliefs to live a more joyful and compassionate life.