In the letter called “To My Old Master,” Jourdan Anderson, a freed slave living in Ohio, writes to his former master in Tennessee in about 1865, the year that the Civil War ended. In this document some specific kind of society is generated. The atmosphere was cruel and wild. Some emancipated slaves quickly fled from the neighbourhood of their owners, while others became wage laborers for former owners. Most importantly, African Americans could make choices for themselves about where they labored and the type of work they performed.
Reconstruction did open the door for political involvement on the part of former slaves, and those free blacks that lived in southern states. Hundreds of blacks were killed for attempting to vote, for challenging segregation, for organizing workers, or even for attending school. Even as Reconstruction ended, blacks continued to make some gains. The Ku Klux Klan remains one of the largest continents of racist in the U. S. today. It has long been believed that those in the klan get more than tacit support from more influential and affluent whites whose hypocrisy prevents them from wearing the robes of their beliefs.
Talking about type of political structure and the dominant intellectual assumptions I would like to point the fact that in that time there was a very difficult political situation. In the time of reconstruction Northern Democrats believed the Constitution strictly limited federal power, anticipated that most Southern whites would vote Democratic, and had little sympathy for black sufferings. On the other hand, most Republicans felt that blacks were entitled to fundamental human rights, and many hoped Southern Republicanism could be made with the help of black buttress.
The door for political involvement on the part of former slaves was opened. Most importantly, African Americans could make choices for themselves about where they labored and the type of work they performed. aroused violent controversy over the constitutional powers and over the status of the black ex-slaves Identificantion The letter is articulate and educated enough that I’m interested in verifying the source. while it’s possible that his former owner educated him, this letter strikes me as *possibly* being written by a contemporary activist rather than an actual freedman.
Either Jourdan was a shrewd man with a strong sense of irony, or this is a piece of propaganda designed to show the injustices done to an intelligent, gentle, forgiving race. In the letter it mentions sending the reparations to V. Winters, ESQ. I got the feeling the letter was written by the lawyer at the behest of Jourdan. But in general there is no matter who wrote it, it is powerful and moving. The article it’s printed in is a roundtable in which a bunch of lawyers ponder the reparations issue from a legal standpoint.
It’s quite eye-opening on a number of levels. And as a postscript, Harper’s mentions that as a result of the roundtable (it implies, anyway), an actual suit is being prepared. the sentiments expressed in the letter follow closely the stereotypical “noble slave” pattern that I’ve seen before (“Uncle Tom’s Cabin”). If the letter is authentic, that’s interesting. It just looked to me as if it could easily be a persuasion piece from an anti-discrimination group. I am not sure that the author addresses the letter just to his old master, Colonel P.
H. Anderson. He applies to all people, involved in that violent battle, to slaves with the same fortune, to any reader who will be lucky to read his letter. He wants us to know the real situation with slavery. I wonder that he was rather calm and content while writing this letter. Happiness depends on his freedom, on the fact that everything bad ended at last. He shouts about injustice, unfairness, violence and freedom. We should learn historical facts not just to remember but to understand the value of things that people struggle for.
The main idea of Jourdan’s letter is to name the most valuable thing in our lives and the life of our country – FREEDOM. Evaluation My point was made in the often reprinted letter from Jourdan Anderson to Colonel P. H. Anderson, in answer to the latter’s offer that the now freed Anderson and his wife return to work as wage-labourers. As a sign of good faith they ask for back wages, discounted by various expenses undertaken for their benefit. Anderson alludes to many wrongs suffered by him and by his family, yet it is restitution of the retained value of their labour that, he seems to suggest, is a precondition of their meeting now as equals.
“Here,” Anderson says (he is writing from Ohio), “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. ” Compelling former slave-owners to pay back wages, on this understanding, defeats the message—otherwise left to stand—that slaves were livestock. The moral-expressive content of the labour claim then, isn’t that what was wrong with slavery is that slaves were unsalaried. It is rather that what was wrong with slavery is that slaves were treated as though they were not persons.
And this, I think, gets the wrong of slavery exactly right. Claims in unjust enrichment by descendants of African-American slaves against private corporations face a number of difficult procedural hurdles, as recent developments in the slavery reparations litigation attest. Without meaning to suggest either that these problems are mere technicalities and do not also raise questions of justice, or that they are otherwise unimportant, I would like to set them aside here.
I want to take up a substantive criticism of a subset of the unjust enrichment claims raised in the recent litigation. The subset comprises claims for the value of slave labour and the profits derived from it, raised against corporations that used slaves. The worry is deep and important. It matters even if the litigation is abandoned. It is likely that the vocabulary in which the litigation is being conducted will survive into public debate. The author is not a neutral narrator. A preacher’s voice sometimes rings in his evocative, beautifully crafted prose.
His message is that slavery was an abomination and no one who benefited from it — directly or indirectly — is without the stain of guilt. To live with the advantages of white skin in America is to benefit from the old slave system. At the same time, we know that what’s past is past. The dual acts of remembering and forgetting slavery have become central to the constitution of American history. “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. ” He wants to tell us by these words that time changes and mistakes, violent actions that took place in the past are always hurtful for our descendants and are in our mind. The document and its value seem pertinent or relevant today because there are some words that make our heart palpitate and our blood run faster – freedom, motherland, human rights. And there are some words that make us cry, feel pain – slavery, murder, injustice.
Nowadays we just prefer to deal with independence not with freedom. We do not have a problem to be free, but we care about the position of our country. We managed to become the whole thing – the nation. We are not alone any more. But the point is to remember all historical events not to make mistakes more.
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