A letter to Lincoln

November 14, 2009
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Dear Mr. President,

Being one of the few freedmen that can write, I would just like to thank you from all of us for everything you have done. We all know that if it were not for you, we would not have the rights that we do now, and we cannot thank you enough for that. Our appreciation for your actions overwhelms us. The Emancipation Proclamation and the rights to citizenship are just two things we have to thank you for. Some people may be against you in your decisions about the slaves, but don’t listen to them as you know God is on your side. The Lord will stand by you when you make kind choices like you have.

When I heard about the Emancipation Proclamation, I could not be more grateful to you, sir, for trying to help us. By freeing the slaves in all the revolting states in 1863, you changed the goal of the Civil War so that it was also a war over slavery. Even though I know that I was not freed at that time because my owner down in Georgia did not listen to the Union laws, I knew that I would only have to hold on for a little bit longer. I knew that my freedom would be granted eventually, if we could just struggle by until the end of the war. At the moment I heard of your Emancipation Proclamation, I felt completely relieved that freedom was a possibility for future generations of my family! And for that, I really have all the gratitude in the world for you! You are saving my family!

After the Emancipation Proclamation was issued and the north started winning a little bit, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders; liberty and justice was that much closer! But once I heard about the Battle of Gettysburg, this weight immediately returned as I felt badly for those who gave their lives for this cause, a very noble one at that. The way you spoke to the people during the Gettysburg Address really moved me. The speech in which you stated that there was going to be a new interpretation of the Declaration of Independence would change my life forever. The line “a new birth of freedom” moved me and my fellow slaves at the time. I trusted you and I knew that you were going to do everything in your power as the President to make this come true. Everyone knew and trusted in you.

I know that many of the northerners and most of the slaves did not like the part of your second inaugural where you talk about “malice towards none”; people were not happy with this plan for reconstruction because many believed the south should be punished for its behavior. But I can see why you chose to do this and although I would love nothing more than to see my plantation owner, Mr. Smith, be tortured, I can see why you made this decision. It is important to keep your nation, OUR nation, unified. But also I know that many of the slaves were happy with the “malice towards none” because that includes us too. Your ideas of equality amaze me and I could never thank you enough for your actions and for seeing that justice needed to be granted.

All in all, Mr. President, sir, I cannot believe how much you have done for our country. Even if some racist southerners do not see it now, I know that ultimately future generations of white people will be able to live in harmony with us blacks without discrimination. You have done everything in your power to make this possible, which is the right thing to do. I am sure I speak for all freedmen when I say, thank you Mr. President, for making all of this possible for us and for making the honorable, fair, and morally correct decisions in enforcing the laws that you have. With the help of God and a great thank you from all freedmen, I wish you a happy and healthy life.

Sheridiah Freedman

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