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Spousal Separation Under Slavery
Digital History ID 490

Author:   Laura Spicer

Annotation: When he and his wife were sold apart, Laura Spicer's husband remarried, thinking that he would never see her again. After the Civil War, however, Laura found him, prompting anguish and confusion.

Document: I don't know whether I have told you Laura Spicers story. She was sold from her husband some years ago, and he, hearing she was dead, married again. He has had a wavering inclination to again unite his fortunes with hers; and she has received a letter from him in which he said, "I read you letters over and over again. I keep them always in my pocket. If you are married I don't ever want to see you again." And yet, in some of his letters, he says, "I would much rather you would get married to some good man, for every time I gits a letter from you it tears me all to pieces. The reason why I have not written you before, in a long time, is because your letters disturbed me so very much. You know I love my children. I treats them good as a Father can treat his children; and I do a good deal of it for you. I was sorry to hear that Lewellyn, my poor little son, have had such bad health. I would come and see you, but I know you could not bear it. I want to see you and I don't want to see you. I love you just as well as I did the last day I saw you, and it will not do for you and I to meet. I am married, and my wife have two children, and if you and I meets it would make a very dissatisfied family."

Some of the children are with the mother and the father writes, "Send me some of the children's hair in a separate paper with their names on the paper. Will you please git married, as long as I am married. My dear, you know the Lord know both of our hearts. You know it never was our wishes to be separated from each other, and it never was our fault. Oh, I can see you so plain, at any- time, I had rather anything to have happened to me most than ever have been parted from you and the children. As I am, I do not know which I love best, you or Anna. If I was to die, today or tomorrow, I do not think I would die satisfied till you tell me you will try and marry some good, smart man that will take good care of you and the children; and do it because you love me; and not because I think more of the wife I have got than I do of you. The woman is not born that feels as near to me as you do. You feel this day like myself. Tell them [the children] they must remember they have a good father and one that cares for them and one that thinks about them every day. - - My heart did ache when reading you very kind and interesting letter. Laura I do not think that I have change any at all since I saw you last- - I thinks of you and my children every day of my life. Laura I do love you the same. My love to you never have failed. Laura, truly, I have go another wife, and I am very sorry, that I am. You feels and seems to me as much like my dear loving wife, as you ever did Laura.

Source: Unsigned and undated letter (1869?) in the Chase Papers, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts.

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