A Slave Carrying Her Fate in Her Hands, 1854

This letter documents the commodification of black bodies and the contradictory inhumanity that was often required for such materialism.

The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection

A.M.F. Crawford, American



Frances, the young girl carrying her fate in her hands but helpless to change it, is being sold away from her family by her owner, in order to purchase other goods.






Charlottesville, April the 3rd, 1854. The owner of the unsuspecting 17-year old Frances bemoans, “This will be handed you by my servant Frances...



"I am told that it is useless to give the capabilities of a servant, that it depends altogather [sic] on there [sic] personal appearance;



"...be that as it may. I say positively that she is the finest chamber-maid I have ever seen in my life, 

"she is a good washer, but at house cleaning she has perfect slight of hand.



"She is 17teen [sic] years old the eleventh of this month.

“She does not know that she is to be sold, I couldn’t tell her;

"I own all her family,



"and the leave-taking would be so distressing that I could not.



"Please say to her that that was my reason, and that I was compelled to sell her...



"to pay for the horses that I have bought, and to build my stable.



"I believe I have said all that is necessary,



"but I am so nervous, that I hardly know what I have written.



Respectfully Yours AMF Crawford” 



Envelope, addressed to Meggers Dickerson & Hill, Richmond

A Slave Carrying Her Fate in Her Hands (1854) by A.M.F. CrawfordThe Kinsey African American Art & History Collection

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