The Audacity of Jermain Wesley Loguen
I went to go see Lincoln last week, and I walked away from the experience with a better understanding of both the Thirteenth Amendment and the president himself. It was an incredibly touching film, and I would highly recommend seeing it, but only if you are willing to pay attention and learn something; it's a two-and-a-half hour biopic, not a political thriller.
Also, Daniel Day-Lewis is a boss bitch. As was Lincoln. The two are a match made in heaven.
What made me think about all this a couple of weeks after the fact is the most recent post on the blog Letters of Note, entitled "Wretched woman!". It documents the correspondence between an ex-slave and the wife of his former master. The slave, Jarm Logue, stole a horse and escaped to freedom, leaving behind his entire family and eventually creating a new, free life for himself in New York. Years later, the aforementioned wife wrote him a letter demanding that he pay her $1000 to make up for all of the damage he had done by stealing a horse and escaping, or else she would sell him to someone else. His letter of response is an absolute joy to read - it is scathing and articulate, and it makes you want to leap out of your seat and shake his hand for writing it.
An excerpt (via Letters of Note):
If you or any other speculator on my body and rights, wish to know how I regard my rights, they need but come here and lay their hands on me to enslave me. Did you think to terrify me by presenting the alternative to give my money to you, or give my body to Slavery? Then let me say to you, that I meet the proposition with unutterable scorn and contempt. The proposition is an outrage and an insult. I will not budge one hair's breadth. I will not breathe a shorter breath, even to save me from your persecutions. I stand among a free people, who, I thank God, sympathize with my rights, and the rights of mankind; and if your emissaries and venders come here to re-enslave me, and escape the unshrinking vigor of my own right arm, I trust my strong and brave friends, in this City and State, will be my rescuers and avengers.
|Jermain Wesley Loguen (he changed his name after he escaped): another boss bitch.|
I am resisting the urge to copy and paste the entire letter, because it is just so good. The hatred and prejudice of which people are capable is so horrifying - present day included - but the goodness and human spirit that prevail far outweigh any of the awful bullshit that ignorant people spew. History has a way of repeating itself, be it good or bad, and equal rights - for all races, all genders, all sexual preferences, all people - is one of the most important causes to struggle and fight for. I am in awe of the audacity and strength of the people who stand up for these rights on a daily basis, be it Abraham Lincoln, a man who managed to escape the bonds of slavery, or so many people today fighting to be allowed to love who they want and see it legally recognized by society as a whole. These efforts are so important. Haters gonna hate, but in the end, they'll be irrelevant and on the wrong side of history. The good and true will always prevail.
Truth never damages a cause that is just.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Welp, now I'm all worked up. In conclusion, Letters of Note is an incredible web site that deserves hours of your perusal. Start with the audacity of Jermain Wesley Loguen, and go from there.
Have a wonderful, freedom-filled weekend. Happy Friday!