A Freed Slave Penned A Sarcastic Letter When Asked Back To The Farm

Samuel Reason | June 19th, 2019

Brother Jordan Anderson was a former slave who had been freed from a plantation in Tennessee by Union troops in 1864. He spent his remaining years up in Ohio finding the North much more friendly at the time to him and his family.

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After gaining his freedom, he lived quietly and would most likely have tried hard to completely forget the horrors of slavery and his old plantation master. Yet his old master asked him to come back, which caused Anderson to write back a letter which now is seen as one of the best examples of satire in history.

Anderson’s letter is studied and taught by historians and writers all around the world. It is seen as a masterpiece of satire and has received numerous praises from news outlets. It is now treated as a treasured document that shows how satire evolved over the years. Humorist Andy Borowitz and told the world it would be something that Twain would have been proud to have written.

The letter addressed to Col. Patrick Henry Anderson starts out quite cheerfully with relief that he had not been forgotten but does mention that he often felt uneasy around his old masters. He then goes on to explain that he is now working in Drayton, Ohio and has a very well paid job. Also explains that in Ohio his family is respected and his children are allowed to go to school.

His letter takes a much more satirical turn when he asks for 52 years of back pay to test his old master’s sincerity regarding his offer of employment. Jordan tallies this up at being over $11,000 dollars.

He then goes on to take a much more serious tone, commenting on the violence that happened to a black woman in Tennessee and that he could not risk bringing his family around that sort of level of violence. One of the best parts is his nonchalant way of signing off, advising his old master to thank George for stopping him from shooting him.

Questions have arisen over how Jordan possibly wrote this letter after years of working on a plantation with no education, however, historians and researchers have verified that his letter is indeed real and not a fake. All the signs point to Jordan dictating his words to a writer.

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