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In Their Own Words

June 26, 1869

Radical Ideas Expressed in Journal

Gertrude Thomas had some radical ideas for her day, which she knew would be unacceptable to her society, but which she confided to her journal:

“The laws of our state permit Negroes to vote & hold offices but forbid their marriages with white persons. I sometime think I am ahead of my time - that my ideas are more liberal, more advanced than they ought to be but blood is blood and I predict that in the next generation, that which I confess to me would be a stigma of disgrace will then be no especial drawback in matrimonial alliances. The bright mulatto man & especially woman who has coursing in his or her veins the blood of the first men in the South, first in talent. I don’t say anything about the morality side of the questions. I am handling the subject fearlessly as a great social problem. I predict that these persons never having known the weight of bondage & having received the equalizing influence of education will be received socially into some familys [sic]. I make this prediction because already I see social equality between our uneducated women & our late servants, & I see the contrast between black as well as mulatto women who have (without the education of books) been trained under the most refined associations. I am forced to see the difference between them & some white help I have employed. It is for this reason I would cry aloud for education for our children thorough and complete… . Sometimes I think our people are blind. They do not see the handwriting upon the wall. There must always be a strong affinity for the two races… .”

Source: Virginia Ingraham Burr (ed.), The Secret Eye: The Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1848-1889 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990), pp. 320-321.