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1846 Maine teacher letter on Mississippi slavery  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$360
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Maine teacher ambivalent about Mississippi Slavery – letter

Abbott, J. J.

Hudsonville, Mississippi


Feb. 15, 1846


Autograph Letter Signed. 4pp.+address leaf. To J. P. Carpenter, Montgomery, Alabama.

Maine teacher writing to another teacher from the North expresses unexpected ambivalence about his first view of slavery.

After four months teaching 30 “quite backward” students in rural Missisippi, in a “strange land and amongst strange people…a moral, social and literary desert…”, he found himself unexpectedly ambivalent about his first view of slavery. “Southern ‘Masters’ are not the monsters of cruelty  and inhumanity that Northern Abolitionists have represented them, and that I have fully believed…Slaves are treated with much kindness. Indeed I have been surprised to observe the familiarity between the whites and the blacks. Slaves are not so trampled down & abject & miserable as we have been taught” in New England. Yet “it is emphatically true that they are ignorant, degraded and oppressed.  When I plead the cause of the Masters against their unsparing calumniators, it is not that I wish to apologize for Slavery. I have seen nothing yet to speak in the least in its favor, but regard it, as ever, a most unrighteous & Heaven-daring system of fraud & oppression. As long as I continue to feel any anxiety for the removal of this curse, I cannot but regret the course pursued by many of our abolitionists. However worthy their motives may have been, they have certainly overshot the mark and wounded their own cause…”

Based on hints in the letter, Abbott and Carpenter, who had also come south to teach, in Alabama,  were probably from Andover, Maine, and attended school together, probably at Dartmouth or Bowdoin.

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