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In Their Own Words

September 17, 1864

Diary Entry Questioned Morality of Slavery

An Augusta woman confided to her diary that she had reservations about the morality of slavery, although she was not yet ready to acknowledge blacks as equals.

“… How I do wish this war was over. I wish to breathe free. I feel pent up, confined, cramped … . Never have I so fully realised the feeble hold upon this world’s goods as I do now. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed that peculiarly charming season the Indian Summer more than I have during the past few weeks… . I imagine this contrasted with men clad in Yankee uniform rudely violating the privacy of my home. I imagine the booming of Yankee cannon and the clash of Yankee sabres and I ask myself how soon shall this thing be? Nor does it require an imaginative mind to foretell such an event but the last page of my Journal must bear no such cowardly record. I have sometimes doubted on the subject of slavery. I have seen so many of its evils chief among which is the terribly demoralising influence upon our men and boys but of late I have become convinced the Negro as a race is better off with us as he has been than if he were made free, but I am by no means so sure that we would not gain by his having his freedom given him… .”

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. 235-236.