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This one-page letter, dated 1854, believed to be from a runaway slave from Kentucky, describes his preference for his new country, Canada West. The significance of the letter lies in the credible first hand account of a fugitive slave who traveled, in much probability, via the Underground Railroad to Chatham, Ontario.
There are very few first-hand accounts from fugitive slaves at the Archives of Ontario making this letter an important item in the rich collection of materials documenting Black History in Ontario.
Despite the condition, it is remarkable that the letter has survived and it is hard not to be moved by the sentiment. It was written in manuscript ink (possibly iron gall ink) on blue wove paper. Scroll down to see the complete text.
Please note that the transcription reflects the original spelling and grammar of the letter.
Chatum Canada West July the 9 1854
Tom Elice to
A water-based home made ink, in contrast to printing ink which often contains oil.
A specific manuscript ink, produced by the fermentation of ferrous sulphate in solution with tannin, mixed with a binder such as gum Arabic. Notorious in paper conservation for contributing to a chemical breakdown of cellulose fibres penetrated by the ink.
A type of handmade or machine made paper in which the sheet is formed on a woven screen. (In the case of blue wove paper, the fibres simply were blue.)