The first statewide system of free public schools in Virginia was established in 1870 after the ratification of a new constitution and was one of the most important and enduring accomplishments of Reconstruction. Prior to the(1861–1865), education had been reserved mostly for elite white families; no southern states had public school systems and in Virginia the had been discouraged and, in some forms, made illegal. After the , the federal Freedmen’s Bureau established the of schools, but only for African Americans; other, biracial systems were set up, but only in Petersburg, Richmond, and Norfolk. The new constitution created a new statewide system that, in spite of protests by of the General Assembly, segregated black and white students. The first state superintendent, , set about building the system’s infrastructure—creating more than 2,800 schools and hiring about 3,000 teachers by August 1871—and building political support for its funding. In debates over how to pay off Virginia’s some politicians advocated reducing funding for public schools, although the system became more stable when the biracial took over government in 1881, appointed superintendent, and increased appropriations. By the turn of the century, public schools had attained broad social and political support.