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Old 01-31-2012, 03:32 PM
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Sweet letter from former slave to former master


This is my kind of guy. Basically, his previous owner asked him to come back to work for money. The former slave wrote a very well written and jabbing letter to the guy insulting him and demanding back wages.

Excerpts:

Quote:

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

Quote:
Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were 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 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 he ends it with:

Quote:
Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.
You can read the whole letter here.
  #2  
Old 01-31-2012, 03:51 PM
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That is hilarious! Especially the last part.
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Old 01-31-2012, 05:27 PM
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Awesome!
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Old 01-31-2012, 05:45 PM
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I love the math and the demand for back pay.
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Old 01-31-2012, 05:53 PM
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"I have often felt uneasy about you."

I can't help but read this in a posh, stiff-lipped British accent.
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Old 01-31-2012, 06:05 PM
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I think this is one of the most elegantly written "Fuck you" letters I've read.
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Old 01-31-2012, 07:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Achren View Post
I think this is one of the most elegantly written "Fuck you" letters I've read.
I love compounding interest for back wages owed.
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Old 01-31-2012, 10:04 PM
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Where's the southern civil war oops (War of Northern Aggression) apologist to tell us that the institution of slavery was i say boy a kindly one.. ??
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Old 01-31-2012, 10:22 PM
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This definitely falls into the "If it's not true, it should be" category.
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Old 01-31-2012, 10:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicagojeff View Post
Where's the southern civil war oops (War of Northern Aggression) apologist to tell us that the institution of slavery was i say boy a kindly one.. ??
You've got to be kidding me, slavery apologists?!
  #11  
Old 01-31-2012, 10:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucretia View Post
This definitely falls into the "If it's not true, it should be" category.
Discussion thread at Snopes.
  #12  
Old 02-01-2012, 08:34 AM
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I have now seen the original newspaper article and I do have to admit this may not be true. I don't see any citations yet to indicate it is a genuine letter.
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Old 02-01-2012, 09:05 AM
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This does not read like a genuine 19th century letter, it reads like an inexpert modern writer trying to write like a 19th century person.

If you wanted to write something on that topic to appeal to a modern audience, wouldn't you try to come up with something just like that letter?

Nope: the "feel" is all wrong and the story is way too good to be true. I'm calling bullshit.
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Old 02-01-2012, 09:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakester View Post
This does not read like a genuine 19th century letter, it reads like an inexpert modern writer trying to write like a 19th century person.
Did you read the Snopes thread? It was published in various newspapers in 1865. Here's an example, with a page view showing the date.

Last edited by Crotalus; 02-01-2012 at 09:16 AM. Reason: s
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Old 02-01-2012, 09:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crotalus View Post
Did you read the Snopes thread? It was published in various newspapers in 1865. Here's an example, with a page view showing the date.
Obviously I didn't read the Snopes page.

It still doesn't strike me as an authentic document; it reads like something composed for public consumption rather than what it purports to be. Which seems to be the case.
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Old 02-01-2012, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakester View Post
Obviously I didn't read the Snopes page.

It still doesn't strike me as an authentic document; it reads like something composed for public consumption rather than what it purports to be. Which seems to be the case.
So you were totally wrong about your basis for calling it a fake (your belief that it was a modern composition), but you still feel justified in calling it a fake? What's your basis now?
  #17  
Old 02-01-2012, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakester View Post
Obviously I didn't read the Snopes page.

It still doesn't strike me as an authentic document; it reads like something composed for public consumption rather than what it purports to be. Which seems to be the case.
Do you think it is modern still?
  #18  
Old 02-01-2012, 02:08 PM
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The thing is.... if the letter's real if should be fairly easy to authenticate the background.
Was there a COLONEL PH Anderson from Big Spring Tennessee? Are there slave records from his plantation? Any record of Jourdan Anderson and his named family members in Dayton Ohio?

It appearing in a New York news paper in 1865 just means it was written during that time, not that it is real. How did they get the letter?
  #19  
Old 02-01-2012, 02:14 PM
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1880 census has a Jourdan Anderson, wife Amanda, born Tennessee, living in Dayton, Ohio. Four children at home, none of the named ones but they'd probably be old enough to be out of the house. 1870 also has them, including a Jane (mentioned in the letter, 19 in 1870 so old enough to be known by an ex-master.)

ETA - obit 19 Apr 1905, if anybody lives in Dayton and would like to look it up.

Last edited by Zsofia; 02-01-2012 at 02:17 PM.
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Old 02-01-2012, 02:21 PM
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Sorry, I didn't read the Snopes thread first - they found him in the census also.
  #21  
Old 02-01-2012, 05:19 PM
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Snopes has confirmed the letter was printed in the 1860s in a couple of newspapers, and they have confirmed the existence of the stated parties. The people actually lived, and the letter was printed during that time period.

How much the letter was "massaged" by the transcriber or altered for publication is not known. There may have been anti-slavery/whatever motivations to improve the letter, such motivations being demonstrated by the publication of the letter in newspapers.
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