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Women and Freedmen's Aid after the Civil War

Document 8

LOTTSBURG, Va., February 2d, 1869        

       DEAR MR. POWELL:--The colored people are very anxious about their future. They eagerly ask me, "Are the times going to be any better for us?" They have been hoping the Government was going to help them in some way to the great desideratum of their lives, land. "A little spot to stand on," as Mr. Ball said, "The Lord made me and put me here, and it seems to me he meant me to have some place to put my feet where they couldn't turn me off. If I only had a little land, not more'n two acres, it 'pears to me I might get a little rest, and peace." So continually goes up this prayer. "Give us this day some land, where we can stay, without the fear of being turned off at any minute, and earn in cheerful contentment our daily bread!"

       A year ago I talked with Miss Grimk about the necessity of dividing the Southern land among the freedmen. Even her large, just mind hesitated and objected, "It would be too hard on the white people. It would take all they have!"

       She would see differently to be here where the landowners still make large profits out of their poor tenants, with the power and the disposition to compel them to vote to please them, or take the alternative of being thrown out of house and home and set adrift in the wide world, without the chance to get a rod of the soil their sweat and toil has earned through generations of labor. . . .

CAROLINE F. PUTNAM                     

 -- "Affairs in Virginia: Letter From Miss Caroline F. Putnam,"
National Anti-Slavery Standard
, 20 February 1869

16. Why do freedpeople want land?

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17. Why did Grimk object to the distribution of land to freedmen and freedwomen?

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18. How did whites use land to control African Americans in other aspects of their lives?

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