Hannah Valentine and Lethe Jackson Slave Letters, 1837-1838

Correspondence of house slaves Hannah Valentine and Lethe Jackson from Abingdon, Virginia

About the Digital Collection

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Hannah Valentine and Lethe Jackson were house slaves at Montcalm, the family home of David and Mary Campbell, located in Abingdon, Virginia. During the years David Campbell served as governor of Virginia (1837-1840), he and his family moved into the governor's mansion in Richmond, taking several of their slaves with them, but leaving Hannah and Lethe to care for the homestead. According to historian Norma Taylor Mitchell, young men wrote these letters for Hannah Valentine and Lethe Jackson to their mistresses and other slave family members. Even if not produced by their own hands, the letters provide a rare firsthand glimpse into the lives of slaves and their relationships with their owners. In the spring of 1840, the Campbells, including niece Virginia, returned to Abingdon. Virginia Campbell and Mary Burwell, a literate slave whom David Campbell had purchased in 1840, taught Hannah, Lethe, and the other house slaves to read and write at that time.Hannah Valentine and Lethe Jackson's original letters are a contained in the Campbell Family Papers.

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Source Collection

This digital collection comprises selected materials from the following archival collection at David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library:

Campbell family papers 1731-1969

Collection #RL.00186 | 20 Linear Feet

Family, business, and political correspondence of David Campbell, Governor of Virginia; William Bowen Campbell, Governor of Tennessee; Arthur Campbell, soldier in the Revolutionary War who fought indigenous peoples in North America; John Campbell, Virginia statesman and U.S. Treasurer; James Campbell, lawyer and member of the Tennessee legislature; Virginia Tabitha Jane (Campbell) Sutton; and other members of the Campbell family; and papers of related families, including the Owens, Montgomerys, Kelleys, and Newnans. Topics covered include national political issues such as the War of 1812, the formation of the national banking system, Jacksonian party politics, and social and economic reforms, as well as Virginia and Tennessee state politics and education, and general discussions of educational experiences, personal philosophy, and family news.

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