Richard and Clarissa Armstrong were with the Fifth Company of American Protestant missionaries to the Islands. One of them was Samuel Chapman Armstrong. “More than 100 people from Hawai‘i fought on both sides of the Civil War. Arguably the most famous was the Union general Samuel C Armstrong.” (NY Times) In the Civil War, Armstrong led the 9th Regiment, United States Colored Troops (USCT) in late 1863, then the 8th US Colored Troops when its previous commander was disabled from wounds. Armstrong’s experiences with these regiments aroused his interest in the welfare of black Americans. When Armstrong was assigned to command the USCT, training was conducted at Camp Stanton near Benedict, Maryland. While stationed at Stanton, he established a school to educate the black soldiers, most of whom had no education as slaves. At the end of the war, Armstrong joined the Freedmen’s Bureau.
With the help of the American Missionary Association, he established the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute – now known as Hampton University – in Hampton, Virginia in 1868. The Institute was meant to be a place where black students could receive post-secondary education to become teachers, as well as training in useful job skills while paying for their education through manual labor. “‘Education for Life,’ (was) the constant theme of Armstrong’s teaching, essential though it be to secure to thousands of young men and women their self-support, is not an end in itself, but a means.” (Peabody) Samuel Chapman Armstrong died May 11, 1893. The Islands were at the grave of Armstrong … “At its head was set a huge fragment of volcanic rock, laboriously brought from his island-home in the Pacific, and at its foot a quartz boulder hewn from the Berkshire Hills, where he had been trained. … The monument is a witness of the character it commemorates, volcanic in temperament, granitic in persistency; a life of self-destructive energy, like a mountain on fire, but with the steadiness and strength of one who had lifted up his eyes to the hills and found help.”