Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Master's Letter to a Former Slave


Jermain Loguen was born in 1813 to his slave mother Cherry, and white master father David Logue. He was thought to be just another slave when he escaped from Logue's Davidson County, Tennessee farm in 1834, but he would prove that with the opportunity of freedom, he was anything but common. After making his way to Canada he moved to New York state in the 1840s. He eventually became a teacher and an African Methodist Episcopal Zion preacher, as well as a shrewd real estate investor. While living in Syracuse, Loguen became active in Underground Railroad operations and frequently spoke out against slavery. In 1859 he published his biography, The Rev. J.W.  Loguen, as a Slave and as a Freeman, A Narrative of a Real Life.

Loguen's former master, Sarah Logue most likely heard about or read his book and wrote to Jermain in Syracuse asking him to pay $1000 for his freedom - 26 years after he ran away. It is interesting that Mrs. Logue basically calls Loguen a thief for running away (stealing himself), but does not see that while he was a slave his labor was being stolen. The Abe and Ann mentioned in the letter were Jermain's brother and sister.

 MAURY Co., STATE of TENNESSEE,
February 20th, 1860.
        To JARM:--I now take my pen to write you a few lines, to let you know how we all are. I am a cripple, but I am still able to get about. The rest of the family are all well. Cherry is as well as common. I write you these lines to let you know the situation we are in--partly in consequence of your running away and stealing Old Rock, our fine mare. Though we got the mare back, she was never worth much after you took her; and as I now stand in need of some funds, I have determined to sell you; and I have had an offer for you, but did not see fit to take it. If you will send me one thousand dollars and pay for the old mare, I will give up all claim I have to you. Write to, me as soon as you get these lines, and let me know if you will accept my proposition. In consequence of your running away, we had to sell Abe and Ann and twelve acres of land; and I want you to send me the money that I may be able to redeem the land that you was the cause of our selling, and on receipt of the above named sum of money, I will send you your bill of sale. If you do not comply with my request, I will sell you to some one else, and you may rest assured that the time is not far distant when things will be changed with you. Write to me as soon as you get these lines. Direct your letter to Bigbyville, Maury County, Tennessee. You had better comply with my request.
        I understand that you are a preacher. As the Southern people are so bad, you had better come and preach to your old acquaintances. I would like to know if you read your Bible? If so can you tell what will become of the thief if he does not repent? and, if the blind lead the blind, what will the consequence be? I deem it unnecessary to say much more at present. A word to the wise is sufficient. You know where the liar has his part. You know that we reared you as we reared our own children; that you was never abused, and that shortly before you ran away, when your master asked you if you would like to be sold, you said you would not leave him to go with any body.
SARAH LOGUE.

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