Schoolteacher’s letter describing a young slave’s attack upon three children in her classroom. Clarissa, rubee Terry.

Schoolteacher’s letter describing a young slave’s attack upon three children in her classroom.

Wading River, Long Island, New York: 1853. This 4-page letter from a schoolteacher to her aunt, apparently in Bridgeport, Connecticut, measures approximately 6.5” x 8.5”. It is in very nice shape. Very good. Item #008824

Much of the letter concerns news about family and friends, however Clarissa notes that “My school is not yet out but will be soon, and then I shall feel my self quite at liberty. I usually have 9 scholars, more than half must to be read in words of one or two syllables, which makes it quite tiresome and dull to me. But I have very little troble to make them mind; most are very good.”

However, she devotes two paragraphs to: “quite a scene [that] occurred at school. While myself and the elder children had gone to the beach for a walk, a colored boy belonging to Mr. Paynes came into the school room and began to beat three little children I had left there—two of them was not much hurt, but Laura Ann Hulse was badly injured. Her back was fairly black & blue, and the skin was broke in many places. Her head was all bloody and her hand and arms much swollen where he had beat her with my ruler which he took from the desk. The children were too small to offer any resistance, and he told them if they attempted to make any noise, he would kill them. Mrs. Hulse took the child before the ‘village squire’ and obtained a warrant for his apprehension. Accordingly, on Monday afternoon, he was carried to jail, where his is to stay three months.”

This calls to mind Nat Turner’s massacre of ten white children at Waller’s School, and even though Long Island in 1853 was a far cry from Southampton County, Virginia in 1831, it’s quite surprising that Mr. Paynes’ slave received such a light sentence for his violent and bloody attack upon these students.

Very scarce. As of 2018, other than the testimony associated with Nat Turner’s rebellion, no other first-hand manuscript accounts of such attacks are held by institutions per OCLC. None are in the trade; and no similar auction records are found at Rare Book Hub or ABPC.

Price: $750.00

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