Reader Response Essay - Slave Purchases and Breeding: Unruly Slave

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Reader Response Essay - Slave Purchases and Breeding: Unruly Slave While reading the letter written to Andrew from G.B. Wallace many things ran through my head. There were three main thoughts though, a difference in society and acceptance and a different language and form of writing, and the way some of the words and terms were used. I found all three of the topics very interesting when I further looked into them. The thing that really hit me was how common and normal slavery and slave trade was in 1855. We all have learned in our history classes that slavery existed and all about it, but for some reason this letter really struck me as real. It really shows how the slave world worked. The trading and buying of other human beings is so casually talked about. The terminology for the slaves is also a very telling part of the letter. The word Negro and dispose of are nothing that we would ever say today. To hear “the Negro of whom I wish to dispose” would be totally unheard of and inappropriate today. The differences are amazing. The style in which it is written is another interesting aspect of the letter. The words used and the forms in which they are used are different from what we are used to seeing today. I found that when I was reading the letter I had to read it very slowly and over a few times. The letter is written in a very formal business-like manner, and that adds even another aspect to confuse a student. I personally, and I would assume most students my age have had little or no experience in the business world and with formal writing and reading. It is a different and many times difficult thing for me and others to deal with. I also found the terms “breeding Negro woman”, “young acting Negro man” and “dispose of” very interesting. I guess I never really thought about certain women being “used” for breeding purposes only. It makes me wonder what they did with the “breeding women” after they were past their breeding years. I am also really amused by the “young acting Negro man”. Could he sell him for more money if he was young acting?

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