Reader Response Essay - Slave Purchases and Breeding: Unruly Slave

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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Reader Response Essay - Slave Purchases and Breeding: Unruly Slave

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I would assume so, and that really points to another interesting point. How honest was the “slave trade world”? Did people lie about slaves ages or work abilities or strength? The last term was to dispose of the very unruly Negro girl. What does the author mean by dispose of. I know what the word dispose means, but what does it mean in this context. Will she be sold or beaten or killed. All of these are the things we are not taught in classes, at least that I have taken, and are very foreign to me. This letter has made me curious and I am interested to look further into this.

The letter from G.B. Wallace to Andrew is very interesting and has given me an opportunity to look into something different, and something that I would not have read on my own. The lack of equality along with the language and word usage really help to illustrate how different a time and society they lived in. It also really makes me realize and appreciate how far our world has come since then. I really found this assignment interesting.
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