Historically Speaking: Letter to M. T. Densmore, July 3, 1859

This letter was written on July 3, 1859 from Adrian, Mich. to the author’s father J.R.D. (Densmore) in Hartland, Vt. A small portion of this letter is so important at this time, as we celebrate the 150th year since the beginning of the Civil War, that I wanted to pass it along for us to consider as we look back on that time. I am leaving out a great deal due to space but will include some of the personal thoughts of the author.

“Dear Father, It is a long time since I have written to you but I assure you it is not because I cease to think of you for I think of you every day and glad would I be if I could be with you and minister to you and comfort you for well I know how lonely you must be. I too am alone and desolate. Time does not efface the memory of the loved and lost and I cannot help thinking how different my circumstances might have been ” Of all the sad words of tongue or pen. The saddest of these it might have been”.

I find that I am growing old and my life is more and more desolate. My children will soon be grown up and gone and the place that knows me now will know me no more. I have only John and my youngest girl at home. Belle is with her grand mother and Marretta has gone to Ohio to spend a year with a cousin of mine who married and moved there about a year ago. ” (She has gone to learn typsetting at the newspaper where her cousin’s husband is editor and proprietor, called the Germantown Independant).

Skipping forward, we come to this “Tomorrow is the Fourth of July and people will get together and fire cannon and make patriotic speeches and tell about our glorious country, it’s liberty and freedom, when four million of our brothers and sisters are bought and sold and driven in chained gangs from market. At the same time our Supreme Court decides that a coulard (sic) man has no rights that a white man is bound to respect.

For my part I think that we as a nation should sit in sackcloth and ashes until this great wrong shall be abolished. I cannot think of celebrating the 4 with any kind of patience”.

The author then returns to family matters and finishes with “Write me as soon as you receive this and believe me as ever yours. M.T. Densmore”.

How astounded M.T. would be if he could come back and celebrate the 4th today in a country where blacks hold leadership positions all the way up to and including the presidency. C.Y.M.

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