Letter from Melton Linton--Freedman

Freedmen resented giving up the land they had been granted in the Sea Islands. They argued that they had earned a right to the land over the 200 years of slavery and that they were entitled to the land through their own hard work. In protest of being asked to leave the contested Sea Islands land one black solider wrote:

Edisto Island, March 26, 1866

Mr. Editor:

I hope soon to be called a citizen of the U.S. and have the rights of a citizen. I am opposed myself to working under a contract. I am as much at liberty to hire a white man to work as he to hire me. I expect to stay in the South after I am mustered out of service, but not to hire myself to a planter.

I have seen some men hired who were turned off without being paid. They try to pull us down faster than we can climb up. They have no reason to say that we will not work, for we raised them and sent them to school and bought their land. Now it is as little as they can do to give us some of their land--be it little or much.

Melton R. Linton, Co. H. 35th Regiment,
U. S. Colored Troops

Source: South Carolina Leader, March 31, 1866

African Americans argue for land
Francis Cardozo
Frederick Douglass
Louisiana Freedmen
Melton Linton
The National Freedmen
Baley Wyat
Sea Islanders

History 122

HIST 122 Syllabus


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