The short form: in August of 1865 one Colonel P.H. Anderson of of Big Spring, TN, a former slaver, apparently wrote to one of his former slaves (now living and working – for a paycheck – in Ohio with his family) asking him to come back. The good Col. claimed that he would pay the slave – Jourdan Anderson – a good wage.
That is ballsy. Chutzpah. Audacity. Something along those lines. For a man who *owned* another human being to watch that human being escape to freedom and then ask for that now free man to come *back* is the height of
But perhaps startlingly, Mr. Anderson replied with a dictated letter of surpassing politeness. But as you read along, the “yes massa” tone the letter starts off with gradually grows into a well-crafted FU. Mr Anderson knows what the value of his labor is, now that he’s getting paid for it, so he wants the slaver to provide assurances that he will actually pay off.And what better way to prove his honest intentions than… BACK PAY. Thirty two years at 25 dollars per week – plus twenty years at two dollar per week for his wife, PLUS INTEREST – worked out to $11,680. Which Mr. Anderson could be paid by Adams Express.
Somehow I expect that the good Colonel probably did not pay up.