Saturday, February 04, 2012

Letter from former slave to former master, hilarious must read.

You absolutely must read this letter from a former slave to a former master. The link is here:

This is another link with additional information about the Jourdan family.

The original source of the letter.

This is from a book, "The Freedman's Book," edited by L. Marcia Child and published by Ticknor and Fields, Boston, 1865.

The former master Colonel Anderson is asking for his former slave to come back and work for him saying that he would treat him better than anyone.

Though the reply by the former slave, Jourdan, is written in the most respectful way in a 19th century which had more formalities than we do today, it is a rather stinging criticism of how the former master treated the former slave. The letter is both a very informative description of the issues of slavery and emancipation, yet the writer has a subtle wit and it is riotous fun to read and yet also sad upon reflection.

Some excerpts:

Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that 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 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. 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 that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.

Jourdan describes how they are well treated and have a good situation and are respected. The current situation is contrasted to the former situation. He also asks for wages for the many years him and his wife worked for the former slave master. He certainly must have known that he wasn't going to be paid any money for his former exploitation.

Then the letter turns to the rape of former slaves at the Anderson's.

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.

Finally it ends with this last sentence.

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

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