Mar 26, 2015 - Sale 2377

Sale 2377 - Lot 81

Price Realized: $ 4,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,000 - $ 1,500
ROCHESTER, NEW YORK. WILBUR, JULIA. Autograph Letter Signed, addressed "My Dear Secretary" [to Maria Porter]. Folio leaf, folded to form four pages, written on all sides in a neat cursive script. Alexandria, VA, 12 May, 1863

Additional Details

a first-hand report on the condition of the contrabands at alexandria. Portions of this letter are quoted or paraphrased in the 12th and 13th Annual Reports of the Rochester Ladies Anti-Slavery Society's "Contraband Aid Society" for 1863. Julia Wilbur describes the deplorable condition of the contrabands at Alexandria in the hot summer: "It is so hot at the barracks I can't see how these people live there. The tar drips from the roof beautifully both inside and out. The ditches in which stagnant water has been standing all the while will probably create a pestilence before a month has passed." She recounts an instance of exploitation by contractors: "The commissaries for contrabands Bridge and Pierce were arrested about ten days since and are now in Alex. Jail. . . .The contrabands have complained of half rations and short rations lately, or for 3 mo. past." There is a great deal of detail in this letter regarding the condition and health of the poor contrabands, including an outbreak of small pox. "How the Rochester folks would be frightened if they thought the small pox was within a block of them. . . . There's no use to send Frederick Douglass' Paper to me. Thee need not trouble thyself any further about this. I don't think I should ever get it." The picture painted by Ms. Wilbur is one of terrible disorder and confusion, complicated by corruption and neglect.