Saturday, November 11, 2023

To My Old Master

In 1865, plantation owner Colonel P. H. Anderson was short on workers after the Civil War. He wrote a letter to the formerly-enslaved Jordon Anderson of Dayton, Ohio, asking him to return to Tennessee to help bring in the harvest and save the farm. Anderson responded with a very polite letter that is a masterpiece of passive-aggressive truth. Anderson's boss, attorney Valentine Winters, who had written the letter Anderson dictated, had the letter published in the local paper, where it became a sensation.

In the Letters Live program from Letters of Note, Laurence Fishburne reads Anderson's letter in the deadpan manner he must have intended. It is both funny and deeply cutting. The Wikipedia entry on Jordan Anderson tells us about every person mentioned in the letter, plus what happened to Colonel Anderson afterward. (via Laughing Squid)

No comments: