Sea of Reads

Peripatetic, itinerant, eclectic musings about books, politics, history, language, culture, and anything else that interests me.

Fair Wages For Two Centuries of Work

I was doing some research on African Americans learning to read and write in slavery and after the Civil War, and I came upon this gem:

After the end of the Civil War, many former slavers tried to contact the black men and women they had once enslaved — even those who had escaped during the war and headed north — to try to convince them to return to the plantation and work the land as hands or tenant farmers. One of those freedmen, Jourdon Anderson, wrote a letter back to his former captor, explaining the terms on which [he] would return. This may be my favorite thing that I read all week. Emphasis is added.

Dayton, Ohio, August 7, 1865

To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson
Big Spring, Tennessee

Sir: I got your letter and was glad to find you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Col. Martin’s to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville hospital, but one of the neighbors told me Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.

That’s the teaser. Go to the place I found this and read the rest. You will be glad you did.

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This entry was posted on February 24, 2010 by in Eclectic, Literary, Reading Life, Research.
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