Letter, 15 July 1865, from [Anonymous] to "Aunty"
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Letter , 15 July 1865, was likely written from Charleston, S.C., by a female correspondent, whose identity remains unknown, to her "Aunty" somewhere in the North and updates the recipient on the activities of the family as well as describing the poverty, social unrest, and general postwar conditions in the city, a location described in the letter’s dateline as "Niggerdom." The writer recounts nearly daily visits of naturalist and Lutheran minister John Bachman (1790-1874), noting that on the previous Sunday he "preached a sermon on ‘contentment’ and remarked... we felt we were subjugated, but not conquered, at this last remark, the Yankee Officers who were in the Church got up, and deliberately walked out." | Manuscripts Gifts 2008 | Previous Issues | Endowments | Friends of the Library |
A large portion of the letter is devoted to the welfare and activities of the newly freed slaves. She claims that, since emancipation, "one fifth of the Plantation Negroes, have died in less than five months, [and] at this rate they will not remain many of them to enjoy their freedom." The writer admits that she expected the Fourth of July to be "a very ugly day amongst the negroes and whites; but their fun was spoiled by an order closing up all Stores, and prohibiting any kind of sales from the afternoon of the 3rd till the morning of the 5th."
This is followed by a description of confrontations between Union soldiers and African Americans in the city over the course of the previous two weeks during which "some of each class were killed, wounded and no one dared to go in the streets with out being armed."
The last topic discussed in the apparently unfinished letter is her family’s attempt to make money. The writer laments that "my hens are nearly all dead from the intense heat, so my income from eggs is cut off. I have taken to make Sassafras Beer, but my friends take on trust, and promise to pay 60 days after death, or in Confederate money... Rudolph has made five dollars since he commenced to go to work... glorious future for the poor South."