Hampton University is a historically black and Native American university located in Hampton, Virginia, United States. It was founded by black and white leaders of the American Missionary Association after the American Civil War to provide education to freedmen. The campus looking south across the harbor of Hampton Roads was founded on the grounds of 'Little Scotland', a former plantation in Elizabeth City County not far from Fortress Monroe and the Grand Contraband Camp that gathered nearby. These facilities represented freedom to former slaves, who sought refuge with Union forces in the first year of the war. The American Missionary Association (AMA) responded in 1861 to the former slaves' need for education by hiring its first mulatto teacher, Mary Smith Peake, who had secretly been teaching slaves and free blacks in the area despite the state's prohibition in law. She first taught for the AMA on September 17, 1861 and was said to gather her pupils under a large oak.
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