So, we start here, with a beautiful letter written by a freed slave to his former master: |
As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you.
That's not actually the best part of the letter (the final line is), but really, the whole thing deserves to be read. (There is a line that is slightly heartbreaking, in reference to past tragic sufferings of slavery, but they are, at least, past.)
What's also supremely nifty, though, is kottke.org followed it up, and did some research into what happened to the family; the short version is that they appear to have done quite well, and the gent in question seems to have lived until at least his seventies.