Letter From A Former Slave

The photograph, scratched and undated, is captioned ‘Brother Jordan Anderson’. He is a middle-aged black man with a long beard and a righteous stare, as if he were a preacher locking eyes with a sinner, or a judge about to dispatch a thief to the gallows.

Anderson was a former slave who was freed from a Tennessee plantation by Union troops in 1864 and spent his remaining 40 years in Ohio.

He lived quietly and probably would have been forgotten, if not for a remarkable letter to his former master published in a Cincinnati newspaper shortly after the Civil War.

 
 
Jordan Anderson
This circa 1890 image provided by Dayton History shows Valentine Winters. Jordan Anderson's remarkable letter to his ex-master was reportedly dictated to Winters.
 

Scathing: Former slave Jordan Anderson (left) wrote a satirical letter in 1965 to his old master after he was asked to return to work for him. He wrote the letter with the help of Valentine Winters (right)

Treasured as a social document, praised as a masterpiece of satire, Anderson’s letter has been anthologized and published all over the world.

Historians teach it, and the letter turns up occasionally on a blog or on Facebook. Humorist Andy Borowitz read the letter recently and called it, in an email to The Associated Press, ‘something Twain would have been proud to have written’.

 
Addressed to one Col. Patrick Henry Anderson, who apparently wanted Jordan to come back to the plantation east of Nashville, the letter begins cheerfully, with the former slave expressing relief that ‘you had not forgotten Jordon’ (there are various spellings of the name) and were ‘promising to do better for me than anybody else can’. But, he adds, ‘I have often felt uneasy about you’.

He informs the colonel that he’s now making a respectable wage in Dayton, Ohio, and that his children are going to school.

He tallies the monetary value of his services while on Anderson’s plantation – $11,608 – then adds, ‘we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you.’…

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2174410/Pictured-The-freed-slave-moving-letter-old-master-asked-work-farm.html#ixzz20s2kBAij

 
The brother knew: YOU ARE WHAT YOU DO!  What you say are just words.

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