Blackford family papers, 1742-1953.

Creator: Blackford family.
Collection number: 1912
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Abstract: Blackford family members lived in Fredericksburg, Lynchburg, and Alexandria, Va. Chiefly correspondence of three generations of the Blackford family. Included are letters relating to the involvement of Mary Berkeley (Minor) Blackford (1802-1896) in the American Colonization Society; diaries, 1842-1844, kept by William Matthews Blackford (1801-1864) while serving as United States charge d’affaires in Bogota, New Granada (now Columbia); Civil War letters from Launcelot Minor Blackford (1837-1914) and his brothers; scattered correspondence from missionaries and former slaves in Liberia; three issues of a newspaper, 1854, published in Cavalla, West Africa; Blackford family history information (typed transcriptions), including microfilm of a scrapbook of Launcelot Minor Blackford containing genealogical sketches of the Blackford, Minor, Byrd, Willis, Washington, Ambler, Mason, Jacquelin, and Gray families.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Much of the correspondence relates to the activities of the American Colonization Society and its counterpart in Great Britain, and documents the Blackford family’s antislavery sentiments and their attempts to organize a colonization society in Fredericksburg. The collection includes discussion of fears of a large-scale slave insurrection in the slave states (1831); difficulties in educating black women to be teachers; the life of missionaries in Liberia (1836, 1843, 1845, 1852, 1855); freeing slaves to send to Liberia (1841); observations of South American slavery (1842-1843); antislavery views in Richmond, Virginia; and opposition to the annexation of Texas as a proslavery plot to enable the South to secede (1844); the outfitting with tools of a slave manumitted by the Blackfords (1844); letters written by the slave Maria West for her blind owner and occasional personal notes from West herself (1846-1847); news of Abraham, a manumitted Blackford slave who joined a colony in Liberia (1845); opposition faced by abolitionists in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and nationally (1849); views on slavery and colonization (1850); response to a plan to send slaves to the Amazon Valley (1851); Charles Blackford’s opinion of the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1853); a proslavery argument and description of the treatment of slaves written by V. M. Randolph of Forkland, Alabama (1859); an account of the life, death, and philosophies of Richard Randolph, a Virginian who freed his slaves and moved to Ohio (1859); reaction to John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry (1860); the Northern working-class view of the war and slavery (1862); the secession crisis and Confederate army life (1861-1865); problems with freed slaves (1865); news of Liberia and the hope that emancipated slaves would join the African colony (1865); the idleness of freedmen and thievery among blacks and whites (1866); experiences of the white M. Payne in teaching black children (n.d.); and a description of a Danville, Virginia, race riot (1883).