Within several days of the fall of the Confederate capital of Richmond, J. B. Thayer of Boston, secretary of the New England Freedmen's Aid Society, wrote to Brig. Gen. George F. Shepley, military governor of Richmond, seeking permission to "send teachers for the instruction of the colored people at Richmond."
Thayer noted that his law partner, P. W. Chandler, knew Shepley. Chandler added a note.
Shepley, a Maine native, practiced law in Bangor and Portland and served as U.S. Attorney in Maine before the war.