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Letter from John Boston
January 12, 1862



Consider These Questions


John Boston, a runaway slave from Maryland, fled North to freedom, taking shelter with a New York regiment of the Union army. He wrote this letter to his wife Elizabeth, who remained in Maryland, unable to join him in his escape.

Upton Hill [Va.] January the 12 1862

My Dear Wife it is with grate joy I take this time to let you know Whare I am i am now in Safety in the 14th Regiment of Brooklyn this Day i can Adress you thank god as a free man I had a little truble in giting away But as the lord led the Children of Isrel to the land of Canon So he led me to a land Whare fredom Will rain in spite Of earth and hell Dear you must make your Self content i am free from al the Slavers Lash and as you have chose the Wise plan Of Serving the lord i hope you Will pray Much and i Will try by the help of god To Serv him With all my hart I am With a very nice man and have All that hart Can Wish But My Dear I Cant express my grate desire that i Have to See you i trust the time Will Come When We Shal meet again And if We dont met on earth We Will Meet in heven Whare Jesas ranes Dear Elizabeth tell Mrs Own[ees] That i trust that She Will Continue Her kindness to you and that god Will Bless her on earth and Save her In grate eternity My Acomplements To Mrs Owens and her Children may They Prosper through life I never Shall forgit her kindness to me Dear Wife i must Close rest yourself Contented i am free i Want you to rite To me Soon as you Can Without Delay Direct your letter to the 14th Reigment New york State malitia Uptons Hill Virginea In Care of Mr Cranford Comary Write my Dear Soon As you C Your Affectionate Husban Kiss Daniel For me

John Boston

Give my love to Father and Mother

Copyright ©1992 Free at Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom and the Civil War edited by Ira Berlin et al. Reprinted by permission of the New Press. (800) 233-4830


Consider These Questions



1. Read John Boston's letter out loud so you can hear his voice clearly. What influences can you trace in his language and figures of speech?

2. What does Boston's letter convey about the positives and negatives of running away behind Union lines?

3. Boston's letter was intercepted and given to a committee of the Maryland House of Delegates that was protesting Union policy towards runaway slaves. What significance would Boston's letter have had if read by a Confederate soldier?

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