"P" is for Port Royal Experiment. The Port Royal Experiment was an early humanitarian effort to prepare former slaves of the South Carolina Sea Islands for inclusion as free citizens in American public life. The Experiment was made possible by the U.S. Navy’ conquest of the Sea Islands in November 1861. The conquest was so swift that Beaufort District planters fled and abandoned nearly ten thousand slaves on island plantations. A partnership was established between the federal government and various philanthropic agencies. The government employed the “contrabands” to continue producing Sea Island cotton. The charitable organizations provided teachers and schools, which the former slaves eagerly wanted. On January 1, 1863, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect for the former slaves of the Sea Islands. This was the pinnacle of the Port Royal Experiment.