Letter from an Ex-Slave to His Former Master

By August 1865, the American Civil War was over. Many Southerners wanted to restore some semblance of normality -- as they saw it -- in their homes and communities. So Col. P.H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee wrote to one of his former slaves, requesting that he come back and work on the farm for wages. The freedman Jourdan Anderson would have none of that, unless there were serious changes in the way in which the Colonel and his family conducted themselves. He allegedly dictated a letter which was reprinted in many Northern newspapers. Here's the ending:

In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve—and die, if it come to that—than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.

Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.

From your old servant,

Jourdon Anderson.


Read the rest at Letters of Note.

Link | Somewhat related photo via the National Park Service

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This has the same feel to it as a newspaper editorial or an Urban Legends email, and it seems a bit staged. Even so, and even if it's merely an editorial, it serves as an interesting look at slavery from a historical perspective.
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"Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me."

That's one of the best sentences ever written in the history of mankind.
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