The eagerness to learn among American Negroes was exceptional in the case of a poor and recently emancipated folk. The mass of the slaves could have no education. The laws on this point were explicit and severe. Prior to the abolition of slavery, there was no general public educational system, properly speaking, in the Southern states, except perhaps, in North Carolina. In December, 1855, Governor Adams plead for the appointment of a Superintendent of Education. "Let us make at least this effort, and if the poor of the land are hopelessly doomed to ignorance, poverty and crime, we will at least feel conscious of having done our duty" He was, of course, referring only to the whites, and did not himself seem to believe much in the educability of the poor. The whole fund for education as late as 1865 was only $23,355.