“To My Old Master”: A Sassy Slave Letter

Here’s an interesting article about a slave named Jourdon Anderson who wrote a letter to his master in 1865 after he had won his freedom. The slave said he had no desire to go back to his old “family,” and he had the audacity to ask his former master for back wages. Apparently, a historian is writing a biography on Anderson.

Southern law made it a crime to teach slaves to read and write. Some slaves were literate anyway,  regardless of whether or not they had help from their master or mistress. Slave letters are by no means unheard of, but the few we have are highly prized by historians.

Make of the letter what you will.

About amerikanrambler

Amerikan Rambler is a Virginia-based blog and podcast hosted by Colin Woodward. Colin is a historian, author, and amateur musician, who works in the archives full-time. Author of Marching Masters: Slavery, Race, and the Confederate Army during the Civil War, he is now writing a book on the historical, family, and musical roots of Johnny Cash.
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