Diary of a Refugee

Frances Fearn, ed., Diary of a Refugee

Then the emancipation of the slaves. How is that going to be dealt with? We who know them, and have learned to love them and care for them since we were children, cannot foresee what their freedom will bring to them. While I rejoice that they have it, I pity them, for they are in no way prepared for it. I cannot help but fear terrible conditions for those who will have to depend upon negro labor for the cultivation of their fields. I have faith in the older ones taking it sensibly, and remaining in most cases faithful in their allegiance to their owners, from force of habit as well as sentiment, for they have a strong sense of attachment; it is the younger generation that will be demoralized and corrupted by it. If the suggestion made during the War by some of the largest slave-owners in the South had been accepted, and adopted, it would have been better. These wise men were in favor of arming the negroes, putting them in the Southern army, and at the same time giving them their freedom. If it could have been done it might have changed the conditions of the war, for I have not the slightest doubt but that they would have fought bravely under the command of their masters; not in a single instance have I heard of their failing to do so, when they have been in a battle with their young masters. Often have they been known to run great risks, and shown great bravery in their efforts to save their masters when they have been wounded on the battlefield. I wish that they could have been in some way educated or prepared for freedom, before it was so suddenly thrust upon them. The North has assumed a tremendous responsibility; I hope that they will prove themselves equal to it, and treat this race of people with a firm, just, and discriminating policy; otherwise they will become an evil and menace to the welfare of the country.

I cannot help but wonder what our slaves will do when told that they are free. I am sure that they will all want to go back to the plantation, for they hate Texas and long to return to the sugar-cane and warmth of Louisiana. James has written to the overseer to give them the necessary money to take them back if they wish to go.

Diary of a Refugee, edited by Frances Fearn, Moffat, Yard and Company, New York, 1910


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