[1861–1866, Archive of 46 Letters to Andrew Wallace, Draper and Silk Mercer in Stirling and Glasgow Scotland, with a letter discussing slavery in the Sea Islands of America].
“Now Slavery is one of those things that is bad, bitter bad, in itself, therefore to remove it can never be called a curse…”
Forty-six incoming letters to Andrew Wallace who worked in 1865–1866 for Menzies & Melrose, Drapers in Stirling.
The standout is a letter written by David Turner, a friend in Glasgow. Turner writes at length on slavery and emancipation in history and then of the present times in Jamaica and the coastal islands of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Replying to a letter from Wallace (not present) Turner pens:
“You open up your remarks by saying you never were against freedom and follow it up by calling the blessing of freedom conferred on some Negros a curse because of his being ungrateful to his liberators. Now Slavery is one of those things that is bad, bitter bad, in itself, therefore to remove it can never be called a curse. In the early history of the world we have an account of the liberation of 6000 Slaves besides women & children. I refer to the C[hildren] of Israel. Would you call their freedom cursed because they longed for the flesh pots of Egypt and charged their leader with bringing them out to their grave? I am ignorant of that part of our history where we are said to have been slaves to England. I have always understood Scotland to be a country that never was conquered not even by that proud country which boasted of having conquered the world. It strikes me from the tone of your letter that you are in favor of a gradual emancipation scheme. That I believe to be a moral impossibility, and a system that must entail tenfold more misery & suffering to the poor negro than the other. It was forty years before the Children of Israel were considered fit to partake of civilized life, in short the generation liberated never enjoy the benefits. I am asked to point out ‘a flourishing island or any other spot of this earth’s surface where free emancipation exists.’ I ask you compare Jamaica with the past & the Sea Island of America ditto. Both of which have been proved to be much better under freedom than Slavery.” I will not go further into details but will wait till you contradict what has already been advanced. (January 9, 1866) [ This is the only letter in the group on this subject.]
The majority of letters to Andrew Wallace are from family. Brother David Wallace in Newburgh, Fife, Scotland pens twenty-two letters. He is a young scholar and budding teacher hoping for a permanent position. He writes about the calling and appointments of church ministers, non-government schools, the “Madras” or school for girls, temperance activities, the Young Men’s Institute, and the Second United Presbyterian Church in Newburgh.
The father, also named David Wallace, is a carpenter or builder. He bemoans the lack of enterprise in Newburgh although hopeful of a recent survey of the Firth of Tay “…for a Bridge going across making a great Central link of the chain which would unite the Highlands and the Lowlands…”
Janet Wallace is in domestic service in Dundee. At night, she goes home “to the loom,” perhaps to work as a weaver to supplement her income. Margaret is around the age of 13; she hopes for an apprenticeship, writing to Andrew that “I would not like to go to the loom.”
One non-family member gives Andrew advice about his future ambitions: “If at 5 years you seek to rise to be the buyer in a wholesale house or a Commercial Traveller than I would say you are much better where you are And that anytime spent in the Country is just to much time lost…”
A gathering of letters from a working-class family in mid-Victorian Scotland, with an interesting letter on slavery and emancipation in America.
Description: [1861–1866, Archive of 46 Letters to Andrew Wallace, Draper and Silk Mercer in Stirling and Glasgow Scotland, with a letter discussing slavery in the Sea Islands of America].
Newburgh, Auchtermuchty, Dundee, Johnstone, Edinburgh, etc., Scotland, 1861–1862 and 1864–1866. 8vos. About 160pp. 46 ALsS with envelopes. Two letters with defects; all easily legible; overall Very Good.