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In Their Own Words

August 17, 1868

Unflattering View of Atlanta

In a letter to a bishop, school teacher Elizabeth Sterchi did not portray Atlanta in a flattering light:

“Atlanta is more or less round, and about three miles in diameter. Taking the thickness of 3/4 of a mile in circle all around, this circle, or ribbon if you will, is crowded with poor people piled the one upon the other, perfect heathen in a civilized country, with the most savage tastes, fighting, murdering, stealing, quarreling, begging, swearing, drinking, and possessing the most abject ideas of life - they are beasts with a soul. They know not how exactly how to manage them… .

“They go to a certain Rev. Speleman, Yanky [sic] nutmeg character who marries them whether they elope or not, and causes with his elastic-rubber conscience a perfect misery… .

“We have a lottery here which helps also to do evil; … .

“The Germans have a beer-garden, where there is dancing every week, sometimes every night – it seems to me that the devil has taken hold of the place; The Negroes also have dancing and drinking. It is every day worse and worse. Gambling and houses of infamy are in the face of the new large brick buildings in the main streets, and nobody is ashamed of it.”

Source: Franklin M. Garrett, Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1954), p. 792.