Ode to a Black Man and Brother called “George”

The following letter was written to the Jewish owner of an African Black Man called “George.” It exemplifies the courage, spirit, and dignity of the Black Man as he fought his Jewish oppressor. 

Reading, March 2, 1772

Mr. Bernard Gratz, Merchant in Philadelphia

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I took your negroe George, some time ago, home, thinking I might be the better able to sell him, who, after being with me a night, behaved himself in such an insolent manner I immediately remanded back to the jail.

About a week since, I put him up for sale at Christopher Witman’s tavern, where there was a number of persons who inclined to purchase him. But he protested publickly that he would not be sold, and if anyone should purchase him, he would be the death of him, and words to the like purpose, which deterred the people from bidding.

I then sent him back again with directions to the jailer to keep him at hard labour, which he refuses to do, and goes on in such an insolent manner that it is impossible to get a master for him here.

I therefore request you’ll send for him on sight hereof, or send me a line by Drinkhouse, or the first opportunity, what I shall do with him.

He’s now almost naked, and if not furnished soon with some clothes, I fear he’ll perish.

Pray let me hear from [you] and, in the mean time, I remain, with great regard, sir,

Your humble servant,

George Nagel

PS: He’s now chained and handcuffed on account of his threats.


[1] The The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, Vol. 1.  Some terms clarified from the old English spelling. Variant grammar in the original.