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What's in a Name?

In early January, 1862. Griffin wrote, “I don’t know what to think whether they will attack us or not. I am fully confident if they do come that we will lick them. And if we give them a thorough licking, in their present shattered condition, I think they will begin to think about giving it up. I wish they would quit their foolishness. For I tell you, I would much prefer being at home with my Wife and Children—I am delighted to hear that the citizen of old South Carolina, and old Edgefield especially, have come up to the mark—without being drafted. It would have been an everlasting disgrace to have drafted the men when the Enemy were on our soil.”

A few days later, he wrote, “My Darling what a comfort to me it is, to know that you and the dear Children although separated from me, are well, and appear to be getting along so well. I am also delighted to hear that the Negros are behaving so well—Do say to them that I hear with pleasure of their good behaviour, and hope they will continue to behave well—tell them they shall not lose anything by keeping it up.

I hope also from what you and Willie write, that our new overseer may do well. Tell him, I have entire confidence in him although a Stranger, from what I have heard of him, and he must do his best. Tell your man Peter, that he knows my plan for planting and he must pursue it just as if I were there to attend to it.

At no time in his lengthy letters did Griffin use the word “slave.” When speaking of one of his slaves, he used only a first name: Peter, Ned or Abram. He referred to this children—Willie--in the same way.

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