Wednesday Lazy Linking

Welcome Farkers: I noticed (from the massive surge in impacts on my web server) that this post — in particular, Jourdon Anderson’s letter to his former captor, which I originally found through stuff white people do (2009-04-28) — was recently featured on the front page of Fark.com. I’m flattered; and presumably this also means that for the time being I’ll be getting a lot of readers who are more or less new to the blog. By way of introduction, to who I am, where I’m coming from, and what I care about, you might check out the links at GT 2009-01-29: Welcome, Antiwarriors.

For reference, I’ve also written many other articles on the topic of slavery, and on the ways in which we talk about, or don’t talk about, the history of slavery. See particularly: GT 2005-01-03: Robert E. Lee owned slaves and defended slavery, GT 2008-04-18: Just shut the fuck up, GT 2006-03-21: The humane slave-driver, GT 2006-03-04: Republican virtue (or: the Man who would be King).

  • Quote for the Day: 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 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.

    I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here; I get $25 a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy (the folks here call her Mrs. Anderson), and the children, Milly, Jane and Grundy, go to school and are learning well; the teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday School, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated; sometimes we overhear others saying, Them colored people were slaves down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks, but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Col. Anderson. Many darkies would have been proud, as I used to was, to call you master. Now, if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.

    As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost Marshal General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you are sincerely disposed to treat us justly and kindly—and 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 $25 a month for me, and $2 a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to $11,680. Add to this the interest for the time our wages has 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 Express, in care of V. Winters, esq, Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night, but in Tennessee there was never any pay day for the Negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.

    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 Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve—and die if it comes 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

    The letter was reprinted by Lydia Maria Child in her anthology, The Freedmen’s Book. Jourdon Anderson’s body now rests in the Woodland Cemetary, in Dayton, Ohio, so it seems that his old captor never accepted his offer. For reference, the back wages he demanded — $11,680 in 1865, before adding interest — would be worth about $162,452 in 2008 dollars.

    Discovered thanks to stuff white people do (2009-04-28)

  • The invasion begins tomorrow: SubRosa community space (2009-05-02): First Ever Santa Cruz Anarchist Convergence! May 7-11. The Santa Cruz Anarchist Convergence is coming to town! Yes, here, between the forest and the ocean, among the students and the yuppies, where Santa Cruz anarchists have fostered a close-knit community dedicated to destruction of this world and the creation of another. Santa Cruz is a hub of anarchist culture and resistance, with a long history of radical struggle and active anarchist projects spanning decades. Santa Cruz is proud to host the Santa Cruz Anarchist Convergence, a four-day anarchist event for building community and resistance and sharing radical ideas.

  • More one-way mirror transparency (+): Jesse Walker, Hit & Run (2009-04-23): In Bailouts End Responsibilities.

  • On crony-statism, state capitalism, and living in a bubble: Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom (2009-05-01): Of, by, and for the elite

  • Libertarianism or Barrbarism? Roderick Long, Austro-Athenian Empire (2009-05-04): More Crap from the Libertarian Party (with a hat tip to Soviet Onion in the comments back here). In which the Libertarian Party sends out a press release urging the United States government to control the border, escalate the use of police-state checkpoints against immigrants, and consider all would-be immigrants diseased until proven healthy.

    I’d be pissed if I weren’t beyond caring about anything the LP says or does. Individual party members are often perfectly good people, and well worth talking to, and well worth inviting to something new and better; but the party, as an organization, is worth taking notice of only as an enemy, to be shoved out of the way along with the rest of the belligerent busybody Know-Nothing creeps.

  • He’s wasn’t using it, anyway: Mike Gogulski (2009-05-03): Steal this number: 595-12-5274

  • More on decentalism and localism: A couple of comments from Darian Worden following up on the recent monster thread here: DarianWorden.com (2009-04-27): Individualist International and DarianWorden.com (2009-04-30): Stick It To Your Kind. Whether or not I agree with Darian about multiculturalism depends on what the word’s being used to mean (there’s a lot of different things called multiculturalism, some of them descriptive theories about American history; some of them normative theories; some of them overtly relativistic; others universalistic; etc.). Otherwise, twinkles.

  • On the production of knowledge in a peer-to-peer society: Michel Bauwens, P2P Foundation (2009-04-27): Ryan Lanham: dissolving universities?. I think that the discussion underestimates the importance of architecture and physical space in creating scholarly community; I think it also underestimates what I think would be the most noticeable effect of less businesslike, more mutualistic universities, without the distorting effects of state funding and state-imposed accreditation systems — that they would be smaller, more numerous, and less oriented towards churning out professional degrees in subjects that would be better taught completely outside of the university setting, if not for the political-economic distortions that shove them into institutional structures where they don’t belong. I also protest the notion that there’s something wrong with esoteric subject-matters or that best-selling authors, just as such, somehow have a better grip on what’s relevant than scholars working intensely on a tightly-focused subject. (Surely they have a better grip on what’s relevant to people outside the University. But that’s not necessarily the kind of relevance that a University ought to be concerned with.) But I agree that Universities are set for a radical change, in an increasingly peer-to-peer world, and that the change will involve less institutional aping of business, a more mutualistic orientation, and hopefully less credentialism. It’s an important discussion and this is a good start.

  • I’ll never finish the Internet: Dare Obasanjo, (2009-05-05): RSS readers modeled after email clients are fundamentally broken. Actually, I’m inclined to say that presently-existing e-mail clients are also fundamentally broken, although they call for a different sort of fix.

  • Shameless Self-Promotion opportunities: Jeremy Trombley is now running a regular What Are You Up To? Wednesday feature.

28 replies to Wednesday Lazy Linking Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Laura J.

    The letter is absolutely amazing and wonderful. Thanks for posting!

  2. Discussed at thegrumpyowl.wordpress.com

    Owl Pellets « The Grumpy Owl:

    […] Wednesday Lazy Linking:  A letter from a former slave to his former master.  It’s priceless. […]

  3. Roderick T. Long

    I think we can all be grateful to George Carter, whoever he was.

  4. Aster

    (I left this reply as a comment on Darian’s blog. I’m reposting it here, given it’s germaneness to ‘the Monster Thread’, AKA: Ragnarok, the War to End all Wars, the Great Battle for our Time, the Left-Libertarian Civil War; I’m placing my chips on Ceiling Cat.)

    ~~~~~

    I appreciate you taking the time to write this.

    The element of ‘stick to your own kind’ tribalism that really steams me is Preston’s ‘magnanimous’ offer that people not welcome in respectable communities are welcome to their own enclaves. History is very clear about what this means in practice: ghettos, segregations, bantustans. Which of course is the known agenda of the white nationalist herd Preston attracts as allies. I’ve lived in de facto segregated conditions (primarily due to massive transphobic housing discrimination) and know exactly what that’s like- it means being treated like roadside litter and losing any chance to use your talents. It means being barricaded off into a miserable hive of broken souls. It means having your hands tied by loss of social access and then being blamed for not being able to produce, thus confirming the stereotype that you’re no different from the members of ‘your group’ who have already been defeated. It means forced association with those with whom you share nothing but common pain, and consignment to a culture objectively defined by that pain. It means eternal public definition as ‘one of those’ and nonexistence as an individual in the outer world’s eyes. It means that everyone ignores your mind and spirit in favour of ignorant projections of who they insist that you are, and being addressed to your face with collectivist insults designed to steal your name and your individuality.

    And tribal society is not inevitable. Keith seems to believe that clannishness is so hard-wired and inevitable that anti-racist and anti-patriarchal expectations are neccesarily totalitarian. He seems to think that prejudice against LGBTs are what (heterosexuals? hetero men?) naturally feel and that this is just an inevitable fact of life(+). This, of course, is provincial drek- the entire world, thank goddess, isn’t Richmond. This kind of prejudice is rare enough in Wellington and Auckland to be no more than a nuisance- people just don’t feel the hate which those raised by hateful pedagogy in hateful subcultures consider natural. Ditto for the parts of Australia and Thailand I’ve visited. Sorry, Keith, but not everyone feels that the expectation that you treat people with different genders and skin colours with human respect is an absurd demand for ‘totalitarian humanism’. If you feel that asking people to step out of their village fascism comfort zone is too much to ask, then that’s your problem, not human nature’s. Why don’t you try changing yourself and your friends instead of trying to destroy what we have of a cosmopolitan society? Is the effort to think and feel more broadly really that difficult for you?

    Those who tell us that people are incapable of treating each other as individual persons rather than collective races and sexes are merely telling us rather distasteful things about themselves. Yes, it is best that we deal with such prejudice by means other than coercion. Yes, people have a right to publish filth such as Holocaust denial, and laws forbidding bigoted speech are a serious affront to the principle of an open society. But the proper answer to anyone who gives you a wink and a chuckle and starts spouting off about ‘the Jews’ or ‘the queers’ is a silent stare of chilling contempt. It’s a theory for idiots, and the demand that we run society according to the convenience of idiots is a grotesque form of leveling below the level of the worst kind of Communism. And I’m not making this up- go to racist sites like vdare.com, and you’ll read racists explicitly whining about the injustice of a society which oppresses low-on-the-bell-curve people by expecting of them a cosmopolitanism alien to their own needs and wants. The same people who are appalled by affirmative action and social wage legislation on the grounds that it steals from the ‘productive members of society’ openly demand a redistribution of influence from intellectuals to dullards. Move over, John Rawls: your egalitarianism can’t hold a candle to these populists, whose inner fire doesn’t burn fiercely enough to light the wick.

    Preston implies that the values of tolerance and liberality are merely special pleading by cunning outgroups- tricks of universalist rhetoric to get host societies to shut down their natural barriers and thus betray their group self-interest. This is a theory straight out of classic anti-semitism; liberal individualism as a plot to destroy our volk or our ‘way of life’. It appeals to those who are willing to give up their own autonomy in exchange for the gaurantee that they’ll never have to see anyone doing anyone differently and thus mortifying their myth-induced tribal pseudo-self-esteem. It’s a theory that’s never grasped the concept of spiritual freedom and can only see its advocacy as a power play by another tribe- because that’s all we are: collectivist animals.

    Of course, Preston claims that he is different- that he is an ‘anarch’ or superior soul who rises above the tribalism in which the rest of humanity is so deeply embedded. This from a man obsessed with group distinctions and given to spitting bile and prejudice as rhetorical warfare!?! Nietzsche went through an emotional crisis after his disillusionment with Wagner, precisely because he was appalled at Wagner’s confusion of spiritual greatness with petty convention and small-minded racist nationalism. Nietzsche’s last madly scawled words were ‘I am now having all anti-semites shot’. One shudders to think what he would think of Keith Preston.

    Anyone- white or black, male or female, straight or queer- who wants a world where they can choose how to live for themselves should recognise that this fascist worldview is utterly poisonous to their own existence. It doesn’t matter that this desire for group sovriegnty over individuals can be advanced through forms of authority whose coercions are local and which don’t call themselves the state (tell the difference to a premodern housewife whose legal personage is dissolved into her husband’s, or to a aerf or slave bound to private planation). And anyone who might think that getting rid of the state in favour of an archipelago of airtight little mud-puddle collectivisms which won’t come for them is setting themselves up to become a good German. Anyone with a mind and will of their own would rather be a street vendor in a free-society that a patriarchal chief in a closed one. If the group and not the individual is the basic unit of society, then everyone is a slave- even the king. But then the slave-soldier ethic of hard contempt for happiness and self-expression can see no better human possibility. Anti-statism without the development of individual consciousness can only lead to different names for the same collectivist tyranny.

    (+) Apparently queers are to understand that it’s totally unreasonable to expect bigots to repress their natural loathing for them, but it’s totally reasonable for the rest of the world to demand that queers live in lifelong repression of their sexuality and/or sexual/gender identity. Nope, no transparently supremacist double standards here.

  5. Robert Paul

    Fantastic letter. Except for that school part. Yes, I’m just being picky.

  6. Roderick T. Long

    I thought the point of the school part is that schools for ex-slaves weren’t allowed in the Colonel’s neck of the woods. What was your objection?

  7. James Maloney

    While this letter is fascinating, unfortunately it very much appears to be fake. There are just too many red flags hinting at this and the writing style is very modern.

  8. Rad Geek

    James:

    There are just too many red flags hinting at this […]

    What red flags, specifically, do you have in mind?

    the writing style is very modern.

    As I indicated in the post, the letter appears in an anthology that was first published in 1865. I provided a link to a Google Books image of the letter as it appears in the 1869 edition of that book — The Freedmen’s Book, ed. Lydia Maria Child, p. 265. According to this page at the University of Houston’s Digital History archive, the letter was also printed in the Cincinnati Commercial sometime in August 1865, and reprinted in the New York Tribune on August 22, 1865. If there’s a library near where you live with a good microfiche collection, you should be able to verify that by checking the Tribune for that date.

    Since I have documentary evidence that the letter could not have been written later than 1865, I’d have to say I don’t put much stock in your speculative assessment of the writing style.

  9. Roderick T. Long

    What “red flags,” specifically, do you have in mind?

    Perhaps a worker demanding better treatment from an employer reminded him of communism, hence the red flag.

  10. Corey Fine

    Fake

  11. Rad Geek

    Corey,

    Well, O.K.; so you’ve asserted. But what are your reasons for thinking so?

    Whether or not the letter is authentic is a question of historical fact, not a question to be put to a majority vote. Nobody but you has any reason to care about a report on your personal conclusions about its authenticity, just for their own sake; if, however, you have some evidence or argument to support your position, then please do mention that; that stands some chance of being of interest to readers other than yourself.

  12. Ed Roberts

    This “letter” appears to me to be a fabrication by the original author. She somehow neglected to publish the letter from “Colonel PH Anderson” to which Mr. Jourdon Anderson supposedly dictated his reply.

    Simple reasoning would lead one to ask how on earth “Colonel Anderson” managed to track down a former slave gone from his plantation for at least a year ( who says he recieved his “free papers from the Provost Marshall of Nashville in 1864” ) so soon after the war ended. The war ended in April of 1865, and this letter is dated August 1865 and is supposed to have appeared in two different newspapers that same month.

    Forgive me for being skeptical of the timeline. This whole scenario would be plausible today with email and internet search services in the picture, but it’s pretty absurd to assume that all of this tracking of a former slave and correspondence with him took place so quickly in the aftermath of a war which disrupted every system in the entire country.

    Sorry, but a fabrication that happens to be 140 + years old is no more impressive than one invented this month. Read more of the book for chuckles. The chuckles will indeed be forthcoming if you have any training in history.

    Apply your reasoning to the fallacies implied in the letter:

    Wouldn’t a Colonel of the CSA have been off at war? Wasn’t Tennessee occupied by US troops during the war? How, then was a Confederate Colonel able to stay on his plantation shooting at slaves? How was he able to go to a neighboring plantation to kill a wounded Federal soldier supposedly left behind by the occupation forces?

    The book is a propaganda piece aimed at establishing as fact the falsehood that the war was fought to free slaves. There are probably hundreds of nonsensical propaganda works like this book in existence. The postwar years saw a flood of them from publishers in Boston. They can’t, however, be considered part of the historical record, unless one is compiling a history of frauds perpetrated on the reading public by book publishers.

  13. pj

    This former slave could write and sum very well, which was odd. One wonders where he learned. The former master writing him presupposes literacy. Either this ex-slave has someone write it for him or it’s fake. The idea that some Colonel Sanders type in a society that forbid slaves from reading would write to his former fieldhand and expect an intelligible reply is absurd. Printed in 1865 so it’s real you say? Harriet Tubman’s work had many politically driven untruths. Literary history is filled with opportunistic liars-Jerzy Kozinsky springs readily to mind. That foul mouthed, no talent killed himself when faced with being outed as a fraud-if only many others would follow his example.

  14. RML

    I agree that the letter is fake—either that, or all that we have been taught regarding the laws against teaching slaves to read and write is false.

    I put this up with the hoax of Frederick Douglass who (if he was in fact ever a slave) was supposedly forbidden to learn to read and write and then can suddenly write prose on the same level as Charles Dickens and was an orator comparable to William Jennings Bryan.

    This letter is apocryphal, pure and simple.

  15. Rad Geek

    Ed Roberts:

    Sorry, but a fabrication that happens to be 140 + years old is no more impressive than one invented this month. Read more of the book for chuckles. The chuckles will indeed be forthcoming if you have any training in history.

    pj:

    Printed in 1865 so it’s real you say?

    No, I didn’t say that.

    I did not claim that the date of the letter guarantees its authenticity. The comments about the date were a response to a specific claim made by James Maloney, to the effect that its authenticity was doubtful because the writing style suggests that it was written recently. Since we know for a fact that the letter could not have been composed after August 1865, we therefore know that it was not written recently, and so that particular argument fails. I set out to reply to one specific argument that was given, not to reply to other, different arguments that had not yet been offered.

    Ed Roberts:

    Forgive me for being skeptical of the timeline. This whole scenario would be plausible today with email and internet search services in the picture, but it’s pretty absurd to assume that all of this tracking of a former slave and correspondence with him took place so quickly in the aftermath of a war which disrupted every system in the entire country.

    Do you actually know anything about the kind of tracking and correspondence that went on in the immediate aftermath of emancipation in the U.S.? Black families often went to great lengths within months of the end of the war to find children, family, or other loved ones who had been sold down during slavery. Former slaves who made their way north during the war often had friends and loved ones back home who they made efforts to stay in touch with; and, unlike today, with hundreds of thousands or millions of people in any decently-sized city, and with right-to-your-door mail delivery, back in 1865 it didn’t actually take much fine-grained “tracking” in 1865 to be able to get a letter to someone you were trying to reach. Tough as it might be for the Col. to find out that old Jourdon’s home address, it wouldn’t have been hard to find out that he was in Dayton, and if he knew what city someone was in, that was usually enough to get a letter to them through the post office or by care of local establishment types like lawyers or shopkeeps.

    Wouldn’t a Colonel of the CSA have been off at war?

    You said that Anderson was supposed to be “a Colonel of the CSA;” the letter does not. It just says that he was a colonel. There were many retired colonels living in Tennessee (both militia colonels and regular Army colonels) during the Civil War who kept the title as a form of polite address long after they left military life.

    There were also many active-duty Colonels in Tennessee who were at home at some point during the war, either while on leave or because they were acting as part of the supply apparatus or the Home Guard behind lines. But, like I said, there’s nothing in the letter to claim that he even was an active-duty colonel in the Confederate military.

    Wasn’t Tennessee occupied by US troops during the war?

    The Feds first captured Nashville in February 1862, but Tennessee was one of the most hotly contested states in the Civil War, and the Confederates continued to control about half the state, and were able to mount attacks against U.S.-occupied Nashville, up until December of 1864. So, when you ask:

    How was he able to go to a neighboring plantation to kill a wounded Federal soldier supposedly left behind by the occupation forces?

    The answer is that the Feds weren’t in control of the whole state until almost the end of the war, certainly well after Jourdon Anderson escaped from the Col. (which must have been earlier than 1864, since by 1864 he was in Nashville taking advantage of the military government’s recent emancipation decree). There was an awful lot of fighting going on in Tennessee from 1862-1864, and plenty of Confederate-controlled territory for pro-Confederate Tennesseeans to capture, hold, or kill Union POWs.

    The book is a propaganda piece aimed at establishing as fact the falsehood that the war was fought to free slaves.

    Whatever you want, dude, but Lydia Maria Child’s own explanation of her reasons for publishing the book is that she wrote the book in the hope that those of you who can read will read it aloud to others, and that all of you will derive fresh strength and courage from this true record of what colored men have accomplished, under great disadvantages. That’s part of the reason why the book mainly consists of biographical anecdotes about famous and ordinary black folks, together with a great deal of writing by black authors. There’s actually not very much in the book that touches on the Feds’ war effort at all.

    Of course, you may think that Lydia Maria Child had other, secret motivations that she didn’t disclose. But given what she said about her own motivations, and her choice of the works to include, I think you ought to give some reasons for thinking that. And I don’t know what any of it has to do with whether or not the letter included in the anthology is any more of a forgery than the reprinted material from Douglass, Wheatley, et al.

    The postwar years saw a flood of them from publishers in Boston.

    The letter was originally published in a paper printed at Cincinatti, not in Lydia Maria Child’s anthology.

    pj:

    This former slave could write and sum very well, which was odd.

    1. You may not be aware of this, but there were many slaves who learned how to write before, during, or immediately after the Civil War. (Just after the war, there were many church groups and schools set up for the specific purpose of teaching freedmen how to write. Before the war, there were several former slaves who had already become famous as writers of great eloquence. Not, generally, because some soft-hearted slaver taught them their letters, but rather because they made the effort to learn on their own, for their own reasons. There are many anthologies of freedmen’s letters from the period just after the war; Anderson’s writing a letter was not at all unusual at the time.

    2. Child’s book says that the letter was “dictated,” so in any case Jourdon Anderson need not have been able to write to produce it.

    The former master writing him presupposes literacy. […] The idea that some Colonel Sanders type in a society that forbid slaves from reading would write to his former fieldhand and expect an intelligible reply is absurd.

    Um. Well. As a matter of historical fact, many ex-slaves could read and corresponded with their former captors. (For example, I’ve personally read a number of letters that Robert E. Lee and his family exchanged with a family of former slaves that they had manumitted in a colonizationist scheme and set up in Liberia.) Sometimes this was because they had been taught to read earlier by a religious master, who wanted them to be able to read the Bible; sometimes it was because they had learned to read on their own. And often, if somebody could not read, they would be sent letters anyway, because in a society where a lot of people are illiterate, and where there is no working telephone system or any other reliable means of long-distance communication other than written letters, it’s not at all unusual for an illiterate person to take the letter to someone who can read, and have them read it aloud. Engage a bit of your historical knowledge, or at least a bit of imagination; when it was important to get it done, people figured out all kinds of ways to correspond with each other over long distances, even when one of them couldn’t read, and even when neither of them could.

  16. Rad Geek

    RML,

    I agree that the letter is fake—either that, or all that we have been taught regarding the laws against teaching slaves to read and write is false.

    Hey, I thought I saw some of my friends smoke some dope at a party I was at the other night. That weed must have been fake — or all that we have been taught regarding the laws against marijuana is false.

    Come on, man. You may not know this, but Frederick Douglass does explain how he came to learn how to read and write, in spite of the laws, in that autobiography that he wrote many years later. He did it by ignoring the law and learning it on the sly.

    Read a book!

  17. Robert Paul

    Roderick,

    I thought the point of the school part is that schools for ex-slaves weren’t allowed in the Colonel’s neck of the woods. What was your objection?

    Just the suggestion that the children must be sent to school to be given an education and taught virtuous habits. Like I said, I was just being picky.

  18. Roderick T. Long

    On the authenticity question, see Lester Hunt here.

  19. Aster in Bangkok

    Here is the relevant video. from Buffy:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wF6khBKrmQ&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkQPotX4_7M&feature=related

    I love this song too much.

    The audio is better on the first play, but you can see the original authentic context from the ‘Once More With Feeling’ Season 6 theatrical episode on the latter one.

    I didn’t mean to break earlier, but I wasn’t feeling so well all of a sudden and had to take an utterly necesse est nap. It was raining pretty hard outside for awhile before I dozed off.

    I woke up to hear Madonna blaring so loudly from somewhere around the guest house that every last syllable came out loud and clear through closed and locked window. I don’t know about station you listen to, but whatever good vibes one can get from the D.J. on my wavelength, subtlety is not one of them. And since I got hit over the head by reality awhile back and started seeing things a little too clearly after I finally lost everything all at once, the creepy coincidences and random gravity pulls in three directions at once can get to be more than I can handle. It hurts.

    And I’m now very short on time. My mom just left me all alone here in the biggest city ever. I’ve got a nasty schedule set for me and I more or less have to spend the rest of it doing what we all know is really summum bonum important: shopping. I’ve got like 24 ticks to scour Khao San road and get one of everything for my new apartment, and as I hate waste, I intend to burn through every last baht before leaving.

    Like the woman said: whether you like it or not, causality bites. Even when the mechanism seems to involve two incompatible theories, both of which are true- even so we can still know things and reality is absolute. And whatever people’s been saying ‘round these parts lately, ‘what goes around come around’ doesn’t apply to everyone except me. Right now, I wish. No exceptions.

    I don’t have much right to complain about the result, ‘tho I get shaky when I remember the big picture. It is, intrinsically speaking, now a little too late for that. Just, please: no double standards. No profiling. Don’t automatically blame the girl.

    Think what you wish of me, but I did just kick some Nazi butt when no one else could find the voice to say what needed to be said. I can show people the mirror and write with more capital letters than an IRS overdue notice because I’m past the point of worrying that other people think of me. Someone has to do it or the whole thing will fall down- walls, drainage pipes, and everything. And I do have a brain, and can, have, and will help. I accept that some of the standards have to be set by other people, people like Charles and Roderick, who are a little less iffy in the alignment department.

    And while many people seem to think I took the lazy way out, that’s really is not how the rules work. Honestly, as Saint Chris keeps saying, you ought to try on my moccasins a bit before throwing rocks. My uberkewl neo-mom happens to be German Swiss, and I feel it’s only fair to learn how to communicate effectively and pleasantly with human beings who show me kindness. So, Alps on Alps, you know what that means: homework. Like, a bottomless bucket of it.

    Einz plus einz ist zwei…

    I pick up my corpware Tuesday, one day before leaving. Otherwise, all I ask that a certain more-nice-than-sane cliche errand I got sent on here works out O.K. PLEASE. Formal request. This one ain’t for me.

    Marja, please do your Christian thing. I would appreciate it. Rilly. It… can’t hurt. Oh, and, um, sorry to everyone for all the Christian bashing. My Anglo-Catholic father didn’t exactly set an example of piety to inspire a lifetime of de imitatio christi, and it’s taken me 30 years to get all of that poison out of my system. I didn’t get much childhood, so my turn at the wheel starts around tonight.

    See you all on the barricades, laters. Y’all have done a wonderful thing for me by giving me a place where I can write and talk. But I need to learn when and how to shut up. And right now, I need to be alone for a sit. I’ll be a climb to reach. You can talk to me if you really want to, but you won’t be made any happier by listening to the pretentious watery monologue.

    The truth is out there. Trust no one.

    No exceptions. I just got the message: no exceptions. But I can’t live with this.

· June 2009 ·

  1. Vic

    This letter gives cause for reflection. It is a testimony to both the arrogance of the slave master and the free-minded former slave. It is so easy for the victimizer to ask for a forgive-and-forget response from his victims. We’ve seen this over and over again. The response is kind, firm, logical and intelligent.

  2. Discussed at aaeblog.com

    Everybody Run, the Colonel Has a Gun, Part 2 | Austro-Athenian Empire:

    […] been some discussion over at Charles’ blog as to whether the letter from a slave to his former master that I discussed last month is […]

  3. Discussed at transtextuel.wordpress.com

    Dans la caboche de la traducteuse #1 « Transtextuel:

    […] Après la Guerre de Sécession, d’anciens maîtres ont cherché à récupérer leurs anciens esclaves, faisant miroiter des promesses de vie meilleure en cas de retour au bercail. Mon coup de cœur à partager avec vous : la réponse d’un ancien esclave, Jourdon Anderson, à l’invitation de son ancien maître. Vous pouvez la lire en V.O. sur ce site. […]

  4. Discussed at aaeblog.com

    Everybody Run, the Colonel Has a Gun | Austro-Athenian Empire:

    […] out this marvelous 1865 letter from a former slave to his former, um, employer, explaining his reservations about renewing their […]

  5. NeedingRelease

    What appears to be fake? Maybe the fact that it was an uneducated slave that was writing….. That a salve owner was able to FIND that slave after the war?

    Come on.. get real

  6. Rad Geek

    NeedingRelease,

    That a [slave] owner was able to FIND that slave after the war?

    Why exactly do you think it would be especially difficult for the Jourdon Anderson’s old captor to have found him after the war?

    Many former slaves who made their way north kept in contact with old friends and family members who stayed in the South. Moreover, back when cities and towns were much smaller than they are now, it was not uncommon to ask around a bit and find someone in, say, Nashville, who would remember an old resident, and who could tell you where he moved out to in the not-too-distant past. If Col. Anderson narrowed it down to the city that Jourdon Anderson was in, it would not have been difficult to get a letter to him, given the way that the postal system and social networks worked in the 1860s.

    You may not be aware of this, but the exchange of letters between Col. Anderson and Jourdon Anderson was hardly unique. There are plenty of extant letters from former slavers to their former slaves, and vice versa. (The former slavers usually had economic motives; the former slaves usually wanted news about family and loved ones they had been separated from.) You can find records of a few such letters in this special collection in the Duke library, which I managed to find in about 2 minutes of searching Google. I’m sure you can find some more if you look diligently.

    Maybe the fact that it was an uneducated slave that was writing…..

    1. Lydia Maria Child’s record of the letter doesn’t say that Jourdon Anderson wrote it out himself. It says that he dictated it.

    2. Setting that aside, I think it’s interesting that you seem to think there’s never been a case where a one-time slave ended up being taught, or teaching himself or herself, how to read and write. Really, dude?

· July 2009 ·

  1. Discussed at transtextuel.wordpress.com

    Dans la caboche de la traducteuse #5 « Transtextuel:

    […] Après la Guerre de Sécession, d’anciens maîtres ont cherché à récupérer leurs anciens esclaves, faisant miroiter des promesses de vie meilleure en cas de retour au bercail. Mon coup de cœur à partager avec vous : la réponse d’un ancien esclave, Jourdon Anderson, à l’invitation de son ancien maître. Vous pouvez la lire en V.O. sur ce site. […]

— 2010 —

  1. Discussed at thegrumpyowl.com

    Owl Pellets | The Grumpy Owl:

    […] Wednesday Lazy Linking:  An 1865 letter from a former slave to his former master.  It’s priceless. […]

  2. Discussed at seaofreads.wordpress.com

    Fair Wages For a Day’s Work « Sea of Reads:

    […] Fair Wages For a Day’s Work 2010 February 24 by Kathy 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: […]

Post a reply

By:
Your e-mail address will not be published.
You can register for an account and sign in to verify your identity and avoid spam traps.
Reply

Use Markdown syntax for formatting. *emphasis* = emphasis, **strong** = strong, [link](http://xyz.com) = link,
> block quote to quote blocks of text.

This form is for public comments. Consult About: Comments for policies and copyright details.