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  • #13
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    The letter is a compelling account. I have read it often...to include as a child growing up. As near as I can recall, my grandfather first read this letter to me when I was around 12. He pulled it out of an cigar box when I was in the 6th grade back in the mid '60s. It was a popular read during the Civil Rights era and reprinted many times in various forms.

    According to the Digital Journal, this letter was first published in the New York Daily Tribune in August of 1865. The newspaper then was owned by Horace Greely and was predominantly a Whig / Republican publication which was in competition with sensationalist newspapers of the day (NY Sun, NY Herald).

    http://digitaljournal.com/image/105749
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New-York_Tribune

    My grandfather told me that he believed this letter to be genuine...while my father considered it to be fake. Of course, anyone else is free to decide the validity of the letter based on their own feelings.

    Of course, if there was an obvious end to the story..."Did or did not Col Anderson send the money and repay Jourdan and his family for their hardships endured?"

    Until then...it remains a historical ambiguity.
  • #17
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    Yup, the letter is believed to not be authentic, but the sentiment it exudes is above reproach.

    A slave that had lived in circumstances as described would not likely have had writing abilities and certainly not as developed as presented in the letter. It was never determined who may have written or helped with writing the letter. Some think it may have been written by his children's teacher and the banker intended to capitalize on it.
  • #43
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    @Willozwisp
    Read those responses there on Snopes. Their questioning is the same as I remember from many years ago about the letter, and their comments support what I stated. Their comments support the doubt about the letters authenticity, not the fact that it was published, nor that it exudes sentiment that represents the experiences suggested.
  • #58
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    @bsking

    Colonel Anderson, having failed to attract his former slaves back, sold the land for a pittance to try to get out of debt.
    Two years later he was dead at the age of 44.
    Prior to 2006, historian Raymond Winbush tracked down the living relatives of the Colonel in Big Spring, reporting that they "are still angry at Jordan for not coming back," knowing that the plantation was in serious disrepair after the war.
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  • #1
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    The majority of Americans do not want to think about how cruel and unjust slavery was and how it has led to many, but not all of the problems found disproportionately among the descendants of the enslaved. Our school system has done an exceptionally poor job of connecting the dots between slavery and the animosity and misunderstanding that often exists between the two cultures. It's not about blame, compensation, or even reconciliation. I believe it's about acknowledging the past, putting it behind us, and moving forward.
  • #4
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    that's what you believe but that's not what everyone believes for a lot of people it is about placing blame extracting compensation .... and some will never " put it behind them"

    ...... we have letters like this in our family ... not exactly like this, suffice it to say that a distant relative was a surgeon in the Confederate Army long story short after the war he became a family doctor and took care of many black families regardless of their ability to pay... often times bartering for services. we have his diary and his wife's Journal and when he passed newspapers wrote of how many blacks attended his funeral .... in many ways people were more conciliatory back then.
  • #7
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    @bsking I'm sure there were instances when people were conciliatory and there were many instances of affection between White and Blacks. However, as a whole it sucked for African-Americans. When any group has that little power , they were rife for abuse as was noted in this letter.

    I know there are Whites that hate Blacks and vice versa in present-day, but there is also more genuine platonic and romantic intimacy between both groups than anyone but the most hopeful idealist would have dreamed of back then.
  • #45
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    @Pr0-Lif3 Things are way better with the exception of a few pockets and by pockets I mean the empty pockets of the race baiters who fund raise. Sharpton, Jackson, NAALCP, and on and on. NAALCP is the National Association for the Advancement of Liberal Colored People, since they are the ones who seem to still be stuck in the 19th century and refusing to move on.
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  • #5
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    What a wonderful letter. Some of it brings tears to my eyes. The author, bless him, brought out all of the hell that slavery in the south was.
  • #16
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    I read this in a Reader's Digest last year I think. It was pretty interesting. Now we are just becoming slaves to the corporate masters and unfortunately lots of people don't even get that and instead worship their masters.
  • #18
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    You say that, but none of us can even begin to imagine what real slaves went through. It is absolutely horrifying this this ever existed in our country.
  • #23
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    @Now_What Yes I agree and it should never happen again but don't you think if the rich were aloud to own slaves they would still be doing it? I know we aren't literal slaves but they do keep chipping away at the wages people earn to the point that they can't make a living.
  • #48
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    I have seen more government enslavement via edicts (aka executive orders) and regulations to trap all including the evil and dastardly corporations. What about the 1.6 billion hollow point bullets that they have been purchasing. That is an awful lot of ammo, about 6 rounds or more for every american or CEO who does not Obey Obama.
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  • #9
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    It's obvious he had help, was also enlightening that he might have returned, and was a nicely put together piece. Tells me the wannabe victims of today have got no gripe, it's up to themselves, personal choices, and all opportunity is open.
  • #36
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    @Now_What I notice you and me got voted down. I think that's funny. There is nothing in either comment as far as I can tell that is controversial.
  • #20
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    Jourdon Anderson was an unusual and extraordinarily lucky African-American. First, it sound as if he and his family were house slaves. While still slaves in every sense of the word, house slaves had relatively good living conditions and might have a smattering of education (as long as they didn't and couldn't read). He was also very luck to find a job after the war, much less one that paid the princely amount of $25 a month! Most slaves were not as fortunate.
  • #3
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    Lol, I love this for so many reasons! It must have made P.H. Anderson's blood boil to get such an intelligent and articulate letter from his former property. Truly awesome!
  • #2
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    yeah they're probably right to think that the slave had help to write this letter I'm sure of that... regardless these letters are historic and priceless accounts of what life was like in the 1860s for both slave and master. and it proves that there was income inequality even back then where the slave man got $25 a month and the woman who probably did as hard of work only got eight dollars a month..

    .... so there you have it the more things change the more they stay the same
  • #67
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    The last sentence, to me, conveys a sharp, pointed honesty. He (Mr. Anderson) brings it all home to roost on the man who thought that owning another human being was acceptable. And he lets him know in no uncertain terms that despite all of the horror that his family endured at the hands of these people, his self-respect is in tact.
  • #157
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    Personally, I wish that these professional poverty-and-victim-pimp advocates and activists, with their guilty-white-liberal fans and friends, would quit this legacy-of-slavery nitwit bullshit. I won't hope for change because they are too deranged.
  • #123
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    There is nothing left to say. That letter said it all! I would have never returned to the man who had kept me as a slave! Slavery is terrible and is not a thing of the past in this world. Slavery may have ended her, but not in other areas of the world. I do not think anyone owes me anything for the slavery of my ancestors. The people living today in the U.S. have never held slaves and blacks today in the U.S. today have never held slaves. It's in the past where it should remain. It should still be taught in history because slavery is a part of history. No one today is owed anything for something others did not do. That is in the past. Today's blacks are not due compensation for slavery and this country today owes them nothing for slavery. That should have been in court back then. Not today.
  • #99
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    No matter if the man had help writing it, he indeed did produce a masterpiece of brutal sarcasm. He would have been a hell of a good man to know.
  • #38
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    The shame of all of this?

    If Jourdon Anderson were alive today and using the English language with such skill as he does in this letter... He'd be accused of "acting white."
  • #78
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    @Now_What -- You're missing my point. Millions of children have grown up and continue to grow up thinking that getting good grades being a traitor to one's race. While you are correct that this sentiment springs from racism, it's not white racists that are doing this to blacks.
  • #80
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    @Bobolinsky You are making a generalization from what you perceive to be true. However, most of the black people that I work with are quite proud of their educations.
  • #130
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    @Now_What -- So your saying that because the black people you work with are proud of their educations that means that countless children in inner city schools with abysmal graduation rates aren't getting the message that language skills, mathematics, science, etc aren;t for them?

    Why this sudden shift away from the accusation of racism? Is it because I got my point across that it's racism among blacks that is to blame for this all too common sentiment among black youth and you libs refuse to acknowledge racism on the left?
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  • #11
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    With all of the gay stories, I almost forgot it was race baiter month. While I do find this letter to be pretty funny and at some point in time it would have been relevant to publish for people to read.. that time passed quite a while ago. People like Mary Noble have no interest in race relations improving at all, they just want to stir the pot and see what kind of trouble they can drum up.
  • #19
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    It isn't an interesting letter to you? You choose to try and hide everything like this because you consider it "race baiting"? Slavery is a major part of our history and I find nothing wrong with sharing these kinds of stories.
  • #169
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    I only wish that the majority of his prodigy and kin were as well spoken today as he was then. It is a crying shame the opportunities wasted by the decedents of those slaves. That so many have actually fallen into a less educated rabble than they were when it was illegal to teach them.
  • #143
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    This does make me think that "reparations" -- via the ability for former slaves to sue their former slave owners -- would have been a noble response following the Civil War. Democrats in the South were strongly opposed to such a notion.

    There were many policy discussions about what to do in regard to former slaves. Some favored "returning" ex-slaves to their places of origin (which would have been difficult due to "moving" tribes without real borders at the time) or simply returning them to Africa to form new colonies (e.g., Liberia). Some Northern Republicans wanted former slave plantations to be sold and profits redistributed to the slaves who worked there. However, all of these things failed.

    While I am against any modern idea of "reparations" for the descendants of former slaves by a population that has clean hands (given the time since slavery), I have long believed that the country should have distributed land to freed slaves immediately following their emancipation.

    If pioneers and former indentured servants would gladly accept "40 acres and a mule," then this same goal should have been provided to freedmen. Since the U.S. was lush with mid-western and western land at the time, the approximately 3 Million freedmen (including men, women and children) could have used their status as landowners to start a new life "tabula rasa."

    I suppose that hindsight is 20-20. Still, this letter -- true or not -- is a very moving perspective of the times.
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