Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Slavery and the Making of AmericaPhoto of a slave family on a plantation in Georgia
Time and Place Slave Memories Resources The Slave Experience

The Slave Experience: Family
Intro Historical Overview Character Spotlight All in the Family Personal Narratives Original Docs
Original Documents The Family

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

return to main documents page
Photo of a letter from Maria Perkins to Richard Perkins
view full-sized image

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
email this page to a friend
About the Series K-12 Learning Feedback Support PBS