Words from a father, escaped from slavery, to his children still in bondage

“My Children, I take my pen in hand to rite you A few lines to let you know that I have not forgot you and that I want to see you as bad as ever,” wrote escaped slave Spotswood Rice to his daughters, still in bondage, in September of 1864. “Your Miss Kaitty said that I tried to steal you   But I’ll let her know that god never intended for man to steal his own flesh and blood.”

Rice had escaped in February from the plantation of Benjamin Lewis in Madison County, Missouri, and fled to Glascow, Missouri, to join the Union army. With his newfound position in the 67th USCT, he intended to return for his children.

Rice sent a letter to “Miss Kaitty,” Kitty Diggs, to let her know. Diggs owned one of Rice’s daughters, Mary.

“I received a leteter…telling me that you say I tried to steal to plunder my child away from you,” Rice wrote. “now I want you to understand that mary is my Child and she is a God given rite of my own and you may hold on to hear as long as you can but I want you to remembor this one thing that the longor you keep my Child from me the longor you will have to burn in hell and the qwicer youll get their….”

The full text of Rice’s letter to his children and his letter to Kitty Diggs are available from the University of Maryland’s Freedmen and Southern Society Project. They show Rice’s clear ebullience at being free—as well as the heartbreak of a parent forcibly separated from his children.

While the outcome of Rice’s story remains unknown, his two letters echo with pathos still clearly recognizable today.

This entry was posted in Slavery, USCT and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Words from a father, escaped from slavery, to his children still in bondage

  1. A remarkable correspondence made all the more poignant for our not knowing the outcome. Since the writer had such a distinctive name, maybe history will one day discover whether he and his daughters were reunited. Thank you for sharing.

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