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The Plantation Negro as a Freeman

Scrapbook Page

A page from a personal scrapbook compiled by Sarah Alexander Seddon Bruce of Staunton Hill includes newspaper clippings about her son, Philip Alexander Bruce, after he published his first book, The Plantation Negro as a Freeman: Observations on His Character, Condition, and Prospects in Virginia (1889). The volume reflected the thinking of many white southerners who then regarded African Americans as a socially and intellectually inferior laboring class. Positive reviews of the book are pasted on the page, though the Hartford Times does offer one caveat: "The author, Philip A. Bruce, of Richmond, must be a young man yet; for he has no recollection of the negro in a state of bondage." A biographical sketch on the left side of the page identifies the author's father, Charles Bruce, as "one of the largest slave holders in the South under the old system, and one of the most extensive planters of the new." 

Citation: Papers regarding Philip Alexander Bruce's historical writings and personal correspondence, 1899–1940. Accession #2889. Special Collections, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

Original Author: Sarah Alexander Seddon Bruce

Created: 1889 and later

Medium: Scrapbook page

Courtesy of University of Virginia Special Collections

"Letter from Ex-President Davis."

This detail from a scrapbook page compiled by Sarah Alexander Seddon Bruce of Staunton Hill shows a letter that the former Confederate president Jefferson Davis sent to her son, Philip Alexander Bruce, after he published his first book, The Plantation Negro as a Freeman: Observations on His Character, Condition, and Prospects in Virginia (1889). The author had sent a copy of his book to Davis, who was living in Mississippi. The volume reflected the thinking of many white southerners who then regarded African Americans as a socially and intellectually inferior laboring class—a viewpoint endorsed by Davis in this letter, which was reproduced in a Richmond newspaper. "It is gratifying to know that at last a southern writer, comprehending the true character of the nogro [sic], has chosen to present a real portrait for the benefit of the uninitiated," Davis wrote. "While the subject is being so grossly misrepresented by writers having no exact knowledge of the subject … history is being made by the grossest perversion of the facts, and school-books are introduced in our own country which intentionally, or otherwise, are calculated to mislead the minds of our children."

Citation: Papers regarding Philip Alexander Bruce's historical writings and personal correspondence, 1899–1940. Accession #2889. Special Collections, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

Original Author: Jefferson Davis

Created: March 29, 1889

Medium: Newspaper clipping

Courtesy of University of Virginia Special Collections

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  • Scrapbook Page

    A page from a personal scrapbook compiled by Sarah Alexander Seddon Bruce of Staunton Hill includes newspaper clippings about her son, Philip Alexander Bruce, after he published his first book, The Plantation Negro as a Freeman: Observations on His Character, Condition, and Prospects in Virginia (1889). The volume reflected the thinking of many white southerners who then regarded African Americans as a socially and intellectually inferior laboring class. Positive reviews of the book are pasted on the page, though the Hartford Times does offer one caveat: "The author, Philip A. Bruce, of Richmond, must be a young man yet; for he has no recollection of the negro in a state of bondage." A biographical sketch on the left side of the page identifies the author's father, Charles Bruce, as "one of the largest slave holders in the South under the old system, and one of the most extensive planters of the new." 

    Citation: Papers regarding Philip Alexander Bruce's historical writings and personal correspondence, 1899–1940. Accession #2889. Special Collections, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

    Original Author: Sarah Alexander Seddon Bruce

    Created: 1889 and later

    Medium: Scrapbook page

    Courtesy of University of Virginia Special Collections

  • "Letter from Ex-President Davis."

    This detail from a scrapbook page compiled by Sarah Alexander Seddon Bruce of Staunton Hill shows a letter that the former Confederate president Jefferson Davis sent to her son, Philip Alexander Bruce, after he published his first book, The Plantation Negro as a Freeman: Observations on His Character, Condition, and Prospects in Virginia (1889). The author had sent a copy of his book to Davis, who was living in Mississippi. The volume reflected the thinking of many white southerners who then regarded African Americans as a socially and intellectually inferior laboring class—a viewpoint endorsed by Davis in this letter, which was reproduced in a Richmond newspaper. "It is gratifying to know that at last a southern writer, comprehending the true character of the nogro [sic], has chosen to present a real portrait for the benefit of the uninitiated," Davis wrote. "While the subject is being so grossly misrepresented by writers having no exact knowledge of the subject … history is being made by the grossest perversion of the facts, and school-books are introduced in our own country which intentionally, or otherwise, are calculated to mislead the minds of our children."

    Citation: Papers regarding Philip Alexander Bruce's historical writings and personal correspondence, 1899–1940. Accession #2889. Special Collections, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

    Original Author: Jefferson Davis

    Created: March 29, 1889

    Medium: Newspaper clipping

    Courtesy of University of Virginia Special Collections