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Four African American women seated on steps of building at Atlanta University, Georgia

[Detail] Four African American women seated on steps of building at Atlanta University, Georgia

Sample response 1

January 3, 1845

Dearest Family,

I hope this letter finds you in good health. Today I want to alert you to something of the greatest importance. It is with great distress that I must tell you of the awful conditions found at the mills. Please do not think of sending my dear sisters to this wretched place. The mill owners pay us very little for the many hours of hard work we do every day.

As you know my work hours are long. I work 13 hours every day, except for the Sabbath, for this I am paid just one dollar a week. It is true that my breakfast is provided on workdays otherwise I would have nothing to eat.

The working conditions are very unsafe, few days pass without a horrible accident of some sort. Even with all the accidents the mills have increased the rate at which we must work, daily more and more girls are severly injured. I fear for the health of those whi have no access to fresh air, luckily I am near a window and my health remains strong since I breath fresh air.

The mill is an awful place; no one should have to work in these conditions. Please dear sisters do not be tempted to work at these mills. Tell everyone you see just how wretched the mills are and they should do anything else to earn a living. I shall be quitting my job after I receive my week's pay.

With my deepest love,
Lucy Larcom

Sample response 2

June 22, 1856

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Dear Mr. President Pierce, I would just like to say first of all that I think that you are doing a fine job as president of our great nation. I am presently a student in Phildelphia. the opportunity for all to be educated is an important part of our society and I hold this close to my heart. I am against slavery in all forms and in my life I work toward its end.

It is in this vein that I ask for a change in how things are in the United States I believe that we should educate all people regardless of race. This is why I am petitioning you to change the law about educating black people. I really believe that slavery should be abolished, but that wish is for another day.

Educating all the races will sooner lead to an equality that can only strengthen our great nation. I know that you are a busy man, but I would be grateful if you could put your attention to this matter. I know that telling individual states what to do might be against your political beliefs, but I do believe that an example must be set for the humanity of our nation. An educated nation is a civilized one and a civilized nation is one of power.

Thank you for your time.

Anna Dickinson