"There Was Never Any Pay-day For the Negroes": Jourdon Anderson Demands Wages

To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee

Sir: I got your letter and was glad to find you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Col. Martin’s to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. —Jourdon Anderson

I wasn’t able to find anything on Jourdon Anderson, other than references to this letter and debates over whether it is authentic, but whatever its origin, the full letter is a great read. (Via Jason Scott’s Facebook.)

3 thoughts on “"There Was Never Any Pay-day For the Negroes": Jourdon Anderson Demands Wages

  1. Okay, it looks like its first appearance is shortly after the Civil War, and it could have some satire or tall-tale elements, but it seems to be an authentic historical document, regardless of the actual circumstances of its inscription.

  2. There are no debates whether the letter dates back to that time – but there’s debates as to whether it was completely written by a slave or if it got a little help from people who got it into a bunch of papers.
    In other words, it may be one of those little ideas that gets passed around to prove a point, but has at the germ of it an actual person.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *