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  1. #1

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    Freed Slave's Letter to his former Master

    I thought this was a brilliant letter. Apparently the former slave owner wrote to see if his former slave, Jourdan, who escaped, would come back and work for him. I would have loved to have met this man.

    Excellent Letter by Former Slave

    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 Colonel 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.
    and he asks for reparations too:

    we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor's visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams's Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio.

  2. #2
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    Good read.

  3. #3

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    Jourdan Anderson had a way with words, and no mistake. Awesome letter.
    Charter member of the "We Always Believed in Ashley" Club and the "We Believe in Ricky" Club

  4. #4

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    Oyyy!!!
    “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” William Shakespeare

  5. #5
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    Hahahahaha, awesome!

  6. #6
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    I wonder what the amount would be with interest today. Excellent read--thank you.

  7. #7

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    Oh that is just great!
    'Life's hard. It's even harder when you're stupid.'--John Wayne

  8. #8
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    He was more civil than his former master deserved considering he tried to shoot him. The letter says it all.

  9. #9
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    If those are Jourdan Anderson's "forms of expression" as the newspaper states, he was educated. I wonder why he couldn't write.
    3539 and counting.

    Slightly Wounding Banana list cont: MacMadame.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by milanessa View Post
    If those are Jourdan Anderson's "forms of expression" as the newspaper states, he was educated.
    Yes, under a thin veneer of civility, he basically called his former masters murderers, thieves, and rapists.

    It was cleverly done, but the horror gestured to in that letter I found quite chilling.

  11. #11
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    It's amazing that he still trusted his former owner enough, in spite of the attempt to shoot him, and other said and unsaid threats and abuses. Perhaps he was desperate.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by IceAlisa View Post
    It's amazing that he still trusted his former owner enough
    Hmm, I read it quite the opposite. He didn't trust his former master because of the reasons outlined, so he placed an impossible condition for his return (in essence saying there's no way on earth he'd ever come back).

    Basically he told him off while taking the high road.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by agalisgv View Post
    Hmm, I read it quite the opposite. He didn't trust his former master because of the reasons outlined, so he placed an impossible condition for his return (in essence saying there's no way on earth he'd ever come back).

    Basically he told him off while taking the high road.
    Then why is he writing to him at all? To stick it to him? Guess I am naive enough to think that reparations were possible. Reading too much about Catherine the Great and her (unsuccessful) attempts to end serfdom.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by IceAlisa View Post
    Then why is he writing to him at all? To stick it to him?
    Pretty much
    Guess I am naive enough to think that reparations were possible.
    Well, hope springs eternal and all

    But seriously, it was pretty common for masters to try and trick their former slaves into "working" for them post-slavery in essentially slavery conditions. It's where the whole share-cropping phenomenon arose.

    The '40 acres and a mule' thing didn't go over well at all.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by agalisgv View Post

    But seriously, it was pretty common for masters to try and trick their former slaves into "working" for them post-slavery in essentially slavery conditions.
    I didn't know that, thanks. Glad he was too smart to fall for the trick.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

  16. #16
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    Okay - I'm going to come right out and say it. I doubt the authenticity of the letter. Is there any other proof other than it being published in the NY Daily Tribune?
    3539 and counting.

    Slightly Wounding Banana list cont: MacMadame.

  17. #17
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    Why, milanessa? It's a good point to raise, but what made you think this?
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by milanessa View Post
    Okay - I'm going to come right out and say it. I doubt the authenticity of the letter. Is there any other proof other than it being published in the NY Daily Tribune?
    Are you saying you think the facsimile of the 1865 NY Daily Tribune issue is faked? Or do you think the facsimile is genuine, but the letter appearing in it is faked?

    For the former, I don't know. But that would be pretty easy to ascertain with a little archival work.

    For the latter, it could be. But I think what you have to keep in mind is back in the day, many couldn't read or write. So there were professionals in the community who provided that service--some free of charge, others not.

    Anyhow, it would have been very common for a person to tell the letter writer/scribe the thoughts she wanted to convey, and the letter writer would put those thoughts in a stylish prose form. The degree to which "flourish" and "embellishments" were added/included would depend on the scribe. But back in the day that would have been very common practice.

    And of course, sometimes stories were made up out of whole cloth. But the reputation of the NY Daily Tribune was one of integrity in reporting, so that would be rather out-of-character for the newspaper.

  19. #19

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    I think the letter is authentic, but you never know. And some masters did teach their slaves how to read and write.

    Still reeling from the fact that some geneaologists have exposed Alex Haley's Roots as a fraud.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by agalisgv View Post
    Pretty much Well, hope springs eternal and all

    But seriously, it was pretty common for masters to try and trick their former slaves into "working" for them post-slavery in essentially slavery conditions. It's where the whole share-cropping phenomenon arose.

    The '40 acres and a mule' thing didn't go over well at all.
    40 acres & a mule came from the carpetbaggers (Yankees) not from the previous slaveowners. Sharecropping was more like profit-sharing. 40 acres & a mule was giving the former slaves ownership of property but they had no guarentee they could make a living at it. Many couldn't & then guess who ended up with the acreage? Sure wasn't the Southerners.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex View Post
    I think the letter is authentic, but you never know. And some masters did teach their slaves how to read and write.

    Still reeling from the fact that some geneaologists have exposed Alex Haley's Roots as a fraud.
    What???? Don't tell me that. Well, it's still an incredible read, but when I thought it was true it was a lot more than just a good read.

    As for the letter, the part about asking how his "master" is & being glad he survived the war smacks of Stockholm Syndrome, unless the man was being sarcastic.

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