I debated starting a new thread on this subject, but I'll let the moderators decide if there's enough there to discuss, or whether it would simply degenerate into name-calling. But the question of Stonewall Jackson as "the black man's friend" intrigued me, especially the question of whether, as claimed, he broke Virginia state law by teaching blacks to read.
The first part of this relates to his role in teaching blacks. His own letters don't say much about this. Apart from scattered references to "servants" (a popular euphemism for slave in his time and place) he doesn't seem to mention blacks at all, except in a June 7, 1858, letter to John Lyle Campbell, in which Jackson describes the "Lexington Colored Sabbath School."
You can find the entire letter on the VMI site I linked to earlier. A few points seem worth emphasizing. The school has a name and it's well-known; there's no attempt to hide any violation of law. The school meets once a week for 45 minutes -- it's a school in the Sunday school sense only. It opens with a hymn, includes a reading of Bible verses, prayer, a lecture by "its teacher" (not Jackson -- the teachers report to him and he keeps the records), and an examination of a couple students in the meaning of verses of the child catechism.
There's nothing in the description about teaching anyone to read, nor does it seem there's any time left from the 45 minutes once a week in which one could learn to read, nor does Jackson describe himself as one of the teachers in any case. In assigning verses for further study, and in periodic awards of books to "scholars," there seems some implication of reading, but where and when and how it's taught isn't specified.
But let's assume that the instruction in reading takes place elsewhere. Does this violate the law?
Both supporters of Jackson as a friend to blacks and critics of slavery seem to assume that it was against the law to teach blacks to read. This enables the first group to present Jackson as some sort of civil rights pioneer and the second group to more strongly condemn the "institution."
The historical truth was actually a little more complex and, I think, a bit uglier than either comic book version. According to a Virginia law passed in 1831 (in the aftermath of the Nat Turner rebellion) it was against the law to teach FREE blacks to read, or to teach slaves for compensation. Teaching slaves to read without compensation was OK.
Interestingly enough, you could be flogged for teaching free blacks, but if you took money for teaching slaves you were only subject to a fine. The authorities weren't threatened by literate slaves so much as by free blacks who thought they might have other rights.
So, whatever postwar hagiography might say, Jackson's own writings provide little or no evidence that he taught slaves to read and, if he did, he violated no law unless he got paid for it.