Saturday February 11, 2012

coconut_njFebruary 11, 2012

For the last quote for my quotes for Black History Month, I'm going to post a long quote but a very good one. I can't imagine a better one to end with though.

Preface: In August of 1865, a Colonel P.H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee, wrote to his former slave, Jourdon Anderson, and requested that he come back to work on his farm. Jourdon who, since being emancipated, had moved to Ohio, found paid work, and was now supporting his family responded spectacularly by way of the letter seen below (a letter which, according to newspapers at the time, he dictated). by Shawn Usher of Letters of Note


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 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.

I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy, the folks 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 Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, 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 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 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. 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 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.

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Thank you for a week of meaningful, inspirational quotes. This one is truly powerful.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 7:43AM
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That is a wonderful letter! The whole week of quotes was an inspiration, thank you, Coconut, for your time and research it took to put this week together.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 9:16AM
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Where did you find this letter,Coke? Wish I had had access to it when I was teaching. Your quotes have all been good and we've been in great company with Maya,Alice and the others.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 11:00AM
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I'm glad you all enjoyed them. I did get a bit stuck on Maya, but geez, she has so much to offer and really is an American treasure.

Marda, I first saw the letter on Huffington Post, but it's been getting a lot of coverage this month. Most of the posts about it led to Letters of Note, which is a great site. They have links on there to both the original newpaper article in 1865 in the New York Daily Tribune and a link to site which shows a bunch of census information of Jourdan Anderson and family into the twentieth century. All very interesting and sure would be great for students.

Huffington Post Article

Here is a link that might be useful: Letters of Note article

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 12:44PM
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Thank you for a wonderful week. The powerful letter toped it off. It should be required reading during history in school.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 12:44PM
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I also saw this in the Huff Post. What a show of dignity and intelligence. A lesson for many to learn of all walks of life. Thanks for great week.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 5:46PM
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What a wonderful letter, by Jourdon Anderson. Thanks for the quotes this week, very thought provoking.
I notice that, Colonel P.H. Anderson and Jourdon Anderson, have the same last names, so I guess that the slaves took on the Masters last names.
I come from a society where family names are very important, they go back many, many generations. They could describe the area where the family lived. the professions of the family, they also reflect the son or the daughter of someone.
The "Andeerson" is probably a Swedish name.
Not oonly did "Jourdon" lose his family but also his family name when he became a slave.

I wish it was someway to trace him back to his roots.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 8:13PM
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