A meal at Springfield in 1869

Five years after the end of the Civil War, Springfield had started rebuilding. With the help of the Baltimore Association, schools were being re-built, the Model Farm had started, and a new generation of teachers and ministers was being trained for service.

To celebrate the return of peace and the beginning of prosperity, Springfield held an amazing outdoor meal. Here is a description of what happened:

“The table was of rough boards, 30 inches wide and 250 feet long, covered with pure white cloth, arched with evergreens at intervals of 50 feet, with a rope fence around the entire table at a distance of 10 feet. This gave a frontage of 500 feet for the children, parents and others, while the teachers and waiters had the intermediate space.

The result was perfect order, and as the well-clad crowd of over 1,000 stood in silence before the table, richly loaded with fruit and the handwork of devoted mothers and sisters, we thought we never saw a more beautiful sight of this kind.

We could but contrast it with the poverty and destitution of the same dear people five years ago, when a wing of Johnston’s army was encamped 12,000 strong upon this same spot.”

Francis King, “Education in North Carolina,” Friends Review, 1869, quoted by Seth Hinshaw, The Carolina Quaker Experience, p. 249-250
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