What Are We Worth?
I said in my letter to you that Col. Horton would let you have me for 1000 dol. or a woman that could fill my place. I think you could get one cheaper where you are than to pay him the money. . . . I think that 1000 dollars is too much for me. You must writ very kind to Col Horton and try to Get me for less money. I think you can change his Price by writing Kindly to him.
What hit me was learning what comes along with the knowledge that one is property. I had never thought about the fact that my ancestors must have been knowledgeable about things like how much a person goes for in Texas, versus Ohio. Or how much they were each worth, individually, in a dollar amount, such that a dollar amount such as $1000 could be exorbitant. (Did they often assess one another that way, thinking of dollar amounts when they noticed each other's physical qualities?) Or the way suggesting that another person come be a slave in one's place could be discussed as a matter of fact if one were writing one's free daughter and hoping to meet one's own grandchildren. It was the matter of fact way that she thought through what it would take. Of course, of course, but it opened up a whole world of sorrow for me to read that letter. How are we still dealing with this kind of knowledge today? What is the after-image?
For the record, the daughter was able to buy her mother for $900.