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Slavery and the Making of AmericaPhoto of a slave family on a plantation in Georgia
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The Slave Experience: Family
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Original Documents The Family

Letter from Maria Perkins to Richard Perkins
October 8, 1852
Courtesy of Yale University Library, Manuscripts and Archives Collection

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Photo of a letter from Maria Perkins to Richard Perkins
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Filled with the anxiety and fear of separation, Maria's letter makes an appeal to her husband, asking that he approach his own master or a man named Dr. Hamilton about buying her. Being married gave slaves a certain kind of negotiating power. A slave owner might worry that a husband would run off if his wife was taken too far away. Alternatively, he might see in a slave couple the promise of children, who would also belong to him.

Charllotesville Oct 8th 1852
Dear Husband

I write you a letter to let you know of my distress my master has sold albert to a trader on monday court day and myself and other child is for sale also and I want to you let hear from you very soon before next cort if you can I dont know when I dont want you to wait till christmas I want you to tell dr Hamelton or your master if either will buy me they can attend to it know and then I can go after wards I dont want a trader to get me they asked me if I had got any person to buy me and I told them no they took me to the court houste too & they never put me up a man buy the name of brady bought albert and is gone I dont kow whare they say he lives in Scottesville my things is in several places some is in staunton and if I should be sold I dont kow what will become of them I dont expect to meet with the luck to get that way till I am quite heart sick nothing more

I am and ever will be your kind Wife Maria Perkins

To Richard Perkins
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