# 43944


[AFRICAN-AMERICANA] Letter by a 6th Ohio Cavalry veteran advocating black suffrage. La Grange, Iowa, June 1865.

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Manuscript in ink, [3] pp. quarto (245 x 195 mm); headed ‘Lagrange, Lucas Co., Iowa, June 12th 1865’, the letter is addressed ‘Dear Miller’ and is signed at the foot ‘Your friend, J. E. Wood’; accompanied by the original postal envelope, addressed to ‘L. D. Miller Esq., Newton Falls, Trumbull Co., Ohio’, with pen-cancelled 3¢ rose postage stamp and sender’s address and date of June 15th at upper left, verso blank; the letter with original folds and some toning, but very well preserved; the envelope with some light staining and old pencil scribbles to the front.

A white Iowa farmer’s impassioned and eloquent plea for black suffrage, written in June 1865.

Around the grim and frowning works of Petersburg and Richmond the blood of white and black freely flowed in the same crimson tide.…’

This remarkable letter was written just two months after the end of the Civil War by a veteran of the 6th Ohio Cavalry, J. E. Wood, who has now taken up farming in La Grange, Lucas County, Iowa. It is addressed to one of his regimental comrades, L. D. Miller – now also a farmer – in Newton Falls, Trumbull County, Ohio. The 6th Ohio Cavalry had taken part in the Richmond–Petersburg campaign between June 1864 and March 1865.

Partial transcription of the letter:

‘… I do [believe] Lupe(?) Miller, some pretty girl will take pity on you and rescue you from your perilous situation. I do believe you are convalescent now, and if you take a relapse I am afraid you are gone. I hope the remedy is not far distant. How do you and Ansil get along farming and have the worms bothered you any? … I wish you would please tell me the address of some of the boys of the Sixth Ohio Cavalry. I have not heard from the Regt. since I left Ohio. Strawberries are getting rife (wild ones) and we had some stewed yesterday. Just come over some afternoon and we will pick some.

Now I will talk politics: you know we used to dabble in that a little. Negro suffrage is agitating me some and I have come to a conclusion. You can divine it without my telling you. Here it is. The negroes ought to have the right to vote – is that pretty blacks? perhaps it is but I cannot help it, it is the way I am made. Justice, honor and our good name among nations demands it. Our own sense of right demands it, and now I ask why shall it not be so? The negro is a man as well as the white man. He has intelligence as well as your I. He can see, hear, talk and has an immortal soul. He has proven his valor on many a hard fought field in this struggle for our national existence. Amid the roar of cannon and the smoke of battle on the bloody fields of the Wilderness he boldly stood up and faced death for freedom beside his white brother, and together their spirits winged their way to another sphere. Around the grim and frowning works of Petersburg and Richmond the blood of white and black freely flowed in the same crimson tide. Around the battlements of Charleston and Fort Pillow side by side sleep Africa’s sable sons and the fair Ango Saxon. They could fight, they could die, and they shall vote if they wish to do so, is my dictum. Some say what if they get their freedom, they should be satisfied. They will, but the word freedom to the black man means all the same [as] it does to you or me, it means that every one shall have a voice in making the laws by which he is governed. Now Miller excuse me for filling up this letter with my abolition politics, but I guess it will not hurt anything at least … Your friend, J. E. Wood’.