Free Verse: Letters from Dora Stephens and Others to Their Former Enslaver

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The papers of Georgia politician and vice president of the Confederate States of America Alexander Hamilton Stephens (1812-1883) include a series of letters written by individuals formerly enslaved by the Stephens family. Only a child when slavery was abolished in 1865, Dora Stephens (1857-1931) remained with her parents as employees of Alexander Stephens, and Dora sent friendly letters to Stephens during his absences. Other formerly enslaved persons who left the area wrote to Stephens seeking assistance in finding family members sold away during slavery, asking for advice on financial matters, and or reporting on their new lives. These letters provide a glimpse into the different ways Dora Stephens and other formerly enslaved persons each constructed their lives in freedom.

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