01.30.2012 03:22 PM

Letter from a former slave to a former master

Read it to the end.  You won’t regret that you did.


  1. Michael S says:


  2. Tyrone says:

    Great find – thanks for sharing.

  3. W.B. says:

    Jim has a point, but I think it applies to all races.

    • Pomojen says:

      What is the point. I fail to see it.

    • Philip says:

      Perhaps you could enlighten me as well, W.B.

      • W.B. says:

        I think i was merely trying to put a more fair minded twist to Jim E’s point that the level of literacy in pop culture has declined a lot in recent years. His example was a bit exaggerated, but there is no doubt the average citizen wrote with greater clarity and style a few hundred years ago than they do now. If you examine letters that settlers to Canada wrote back and forth to Britain in the 1800’s you will find, as with this former slave letter, a real level of coherence and clarity.Like Jim E I am not too impressed with hip hop lyrics, or for that matter this new ‘tweet’ style of expression. I am trying to think of a really great writer among the columnists and pundits in journalism. Not having much luck.

  4. Mulletaur says:

    Isn’t it amazing that slavery could have existed under the United States constitution, so beloved of the Teaparty faction of the Republican Party ?

    • Ted says:

      Actually, they call for “what the Fathers wanted” just as often as anything, and even proclaim the falsehood that they founded a Christian nation as grounds for claiming that is what we should have now.

      • Mulletaur says:

        In other words, they want to roll back every important decision the Supreme Court has decided up to and including the New Deal. Stop trying to defend the indefensible, Pumpkin.

      • Ted B says:

        Or how about Brown vs. Board of Education?

        Judicial activisim is just a conservative’s way of whining “I don’t like that result.”

        They also want to erase the division between church and state, censor free press and use the power of state to spy on fellow Americans, and kill mentally deficient and child murderers, and require prayers in school, and require teaching of “intelligent” design if not outright creationism and putting an asteriks on references to evolution, and criminalize homosexuality, and deny due process to anyone charged with serious crimes, etc.

        They are NOT defenders of the Constitution, whether as drafted by the Fathers or as currently drafted.

        That is one of the really unfortunate “misses” by non-conservatives: letting conservatives define the past and accepting it; i.e. that they are the defenders of the true Constitution. It’s total poppycock.

        There are some who even accept the that Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Adams, etc. wanted to establish a “Christian nation” which is the OPPOSITE of what is in the Constitution and what they each wrote passionately about.

    • Mulletaur says:

      Oh dear, Gourd, don’t you ever tire of being so completely and consistently wrong ? The Teabaggers want the Constitution and its interpretation to be rolled back to the utopia that never was, a constitution that restrained the power of the federal government and protected the rights of the states – and that means, naturally, the federal government not being able to stop any state from retaining slavery laws, among others. Very sad that you are an apologist for this.

      • Ted B says:

        Not true.

        They only want some of it enforced and adhered to by the courts and some of it they want the state to do their bidding regardless of the Constitution, such as due process for criminals, spying by the state, censorship of the press, separation of church and state, etc.

  5. Warren says:

    All true. But it was Kennedy and LBJ who proclaimed civil rights, and which the conservative GOP fought every step of the way. From Wallace to Nixon to Reagan, they championed state’s rights and segregation.

    No one has a monopoly on virtue. But conservatives shouldn’t attempt to whitewash their more-recent misdeeds.

    • Torgo says:

      I find it interesting that a disagreement over energy policy can be seen as equivalent to apartheid. Perhaps states’ rights can have a legitimate point when it comes to constitutionality and the proper division of federal and provincial/state jurisdiction; but not when it comes to basic human rights.

      And, if we want to stick to the facts, we also have to note how many of the formerly Democratic southern senators who opposed integration wound up defecting to the Republican party over a period of decades as Nixon’s Southern Strategy brought the former champions of segregation over to the Grand Old Party. I also seem to recall that the only current voices in the American political scene who have a lingering issue with the Civil Rights Act both hail from a strongly Republican family.

      Lastly, what exactly is the point you’re trying to make about affirmative action here? You can have a debate about the efficacy of the idea and how it was put into practice (I for one am a strong supporter of affirmative action), but I can’t for the life of me understand the comparison with segregation and slavery here. More false equivalencies…

    • Chris says:

      I implied no such thing.

      I was merely pointing out the fact that you seem to offer a contrarian viewpoint for virtually every post on this site.

      And now you’re engaging in your other trademark behaviour – whining about how poorly you’re treated.

    • patrick deberg says:

      Right Gord, Cause the NEP was so like slavery…….

    • Ted says:

      The problem with your argument is that it equates conservatives and Republicans, progressives with Democrats.

      Shows a lack of historical knowledge and understanding.

    • Ted says:

      (Oh, and by the way, the Alberta government, elected by the people, signed an agreement acceopting the NEP. One of the great revisions of Canadian history is the decades old whine about misperceptions about the NEP. It was dumb policy,b ut it isn’t what Albertans claim.)

    • Ted says:

      Sorry, Gord, but it seems clear that historical reality doesn’t fit into your overly-simplistic binary world view.

      Democrats were conservatives until the 1950s. FDR fought them all the way. William Jennings Bryan was the first great fundamentalist, fighting tooth and nail against evolution until it killed him. The Great Depression and WWII changed the parties as well as the country. There was a great re-allignment of power to what we now understand conservativism to be. Much in the way that Conservatives in Canada were the the believers in a protectionist, big gocernment, strong federal/weak provincial, interfering state and Libereals were the free-trade, strong provinces/weak national government believers, really the true ancestors to Harper.

      The world, and especially history, is full of colour. It’s not black and white, gordie.

  6. Iris Mclean says:

    Let’s not forget that slavery is a part of history north of the 49th as well.

    • Mike says:

      I’ve never heard that before. I teach History and have a degree in it. Where did you find evidence to support such a claim?

      • Ted B says:

        Unfortunately, if you go back far enough, you will find that slavery did exist in what is now Canada. It did not proliferate on any kind of comparable scale to the US. In fact, it’s probably more accurate to simply state that a few people who lived in what is now Canada had a slave or two. But there was slavery.

        The good news is it became socially unacceptable even before it was legally unacceptable in the 19th Century.

  7. Lawrence Stuart says:

    I was going to post the last line of Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, “They endured.”

    But it doesn’t really do justice. Because the descendants of slaves go on to pretty much own American culture.

    Know what I’m sayin’?

  8. Mike says:

    Yes Steve. I am sure. And what I suppose you missed, given the nature of the medium, is that I wasn’t contradicting the information but legitimately had never heard that claim before and asked for the evidence to support it. I read the reputable wikipedia source you shared and your link with no details about slavery. Had you had me as a teacher you might have learned a bit about using quality sources and evidence but I digress. From your snarky reply I think I am glad you were never my student.

  9. Ted H says:

    Considering the fact that slaves were discouraged from learning to read or write, on punishment of having their thumbs cut off, this man who dictated the letter (I presume for the reason above) still had a better command of the English language and more articulate phrasing than many people in our society today. Our conversation has certainly been “dumbed down” in the past 75 years.

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