In Their Own Words
September 23, 1864
Woman Admitted Slavery Wrong in Journal
In Richmond County, Gertrude Thomas chose this day’s journal entry to ruminate on the rightness and wrongness of slavery, expressing private thoughts that would have been unpopular if expressed openly:
“…The doctrine of self government I suppose of course to be right and yet our Southern people do not appear to have learned the art, even if they had the right granted them. Where is there more power exercised than is displayed in the manner in which our Gen’s are ‘relieved’? But as to the doctrine of slavery altho I have read very few abolition books (Uncle Tom’s Cabin making most impression) nor have I read many pro slavery books - yet the idea has gradually become more and more fixed in my mind that the institution of slavery is not right - but I am reading a new book, Nellie Norton, by the Rev. E.W. Warren which I hope will convince me that it is right - Owning a large number of slaves as we do I might be asked why I do not free them? This if I could, I would not do, but if Mr. Thomas would sell them to a man who would look after their temporal and spiritual interest I would gladly do so. Those house servants we have if Mr. Thomas would agree to it I would pay regular wages but this is a subject upon which I do not like to think and taking my stand upon the moral view of the subject, I can but think that to hold men and women in perpetual bondage is wrong - During my comparatively short life, spent wholly under Southern skies, I have known of and heard too much of its demoralizing influence to consider the institution a blessing… .”
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. 238-239.