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Hawkins Wilson Letter Analysis

From Wilson’s letter, I ascertained the grim reality of slavery and the suffering that the slaves experienced under the owner’s power and how slave trade separated from their families. The letters illustrated Wilson’s effort to reconstruct his family which had fallen apart due to slave activities. His life was full of fantasies and memories of his family. By this, the writer illustrates the depression experienced by slaves due to family separation. It also clear that his life was spiritual was he choose to establish a close relationship with God for him to allow him to meet with his family in heaven. According to the letters, Wilson was happily married to a girl from Georgia, and also he knew how to read and write.

According to Wilson letters, slaves were termed as property which could be sold and inherited by their specific owners. Slaves are obliged to live their life serving their masters, and their owner can dissolve. It also clear that slaves work under the power of their owners although there would exist certain regulations on master-slave treatment. In the analysis, I also learned that slaves are people who have fundamentally excluded from the society and shifted across localities and destined to enslavement. From the letters, it is clear that some masters permitted their slaves to participate in spiritual roles as well as education. It is evident in the letters that slaves were given a certain freedom to communicate for as long as they wanted and were not treated as slaves. Blacks could now be baptized, marry, attend church services and develop intimate relationships. In this letters, a far more positive story on slavery is told.

The information provided by letters describes a different version of slavery. In the letter, slaves enjoyed numerous privileges which are not attributed to a “normal” slave as described in other literary sources. According to Wilson, the slaves were free; this is evident where Hawkins writes to his sister that they were now given freedom and it’s not like before (Donnan, 1965). Slave’s life was different from past form of the slave trade as the slaves were allowed to acquire education. Their educational efforts were met which enabled them to read and write unlike past slave stories were slaves were denied access to education as they were viewed to lack mental capacity to learn and that education would lead to rebellions.

This document offers historical evidence of the institution of slavery. The slave institutions believed that they would not survive without slaves and hence conducted long-distance slave trade where Africans slaves were sailed from East Africa and used, abused and used as plantation laborers. The slave institutions enslaved Africans as they were in need of laborers (Schneider and Schneider, 2014). They also believed that Africans were resistant to diseases, unlike Europeans. The institutions were characterized by constant kidding and constant warfare as well as slave raiding and slave trading by the Europeans (Paine, 1975, p. 265).

The most interesting topic from the letter was how the Europeans treated slaves as an “item.” The slaves were subject to trade activities in which in my opinion was inappropriate and inhumane. Treating fellow human beings as property was the highest social disorder which was experienced by the slaves. Selling the slaves and subjecting them to forced labor was the main trading activity in that era since slaves were the economic driving force. The slave masters also “owned” the slaves in such a manner that even they die the slaves could be inherited and continue serving the new master whether they like it or not.


Donnan, E. (Ed.). (1965). Documents illustrative of the history of the slave trade to America (Vol. 1). Octagon Books.

Schneider, D., & Schneider, C. J. (2014). Slavery in America. Infobase Publishing.

Paine, T. (1975). African slavery in America. The Works of Thomas Paine, ed. William Vander Weyde, Patriot’s Edition (New Rochelle, NY: Thomas Paine Historical Association, 1925)2(5), 269.



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