22451Re: [civilwarwest] Letter from a USCT
- Nov 1, 2000Dear Bob,
Thank you for the excellent post. I hope your spellchecker is now
fully recovered :-) .
Reading through Samuel Cabble's letter it struck me that this is a
man with no formal education and whose command of the English language was
entirely self taught. His formal grammar (capitalizing sentences,
punctuation, etc.) is very clearly lacking but his sentence construction is
excellent. I would have loved to hear this man speak as there was none of
the, "De Massa say dat.." kind of English that we are spoon-fed by popular
authors, TV and movie screenwriters and their ilk.
Whatever this man's position as a slave, it was clearly in close and
regular contact with the white members of his community where he had ample
opportunity to listen and to learn from what he heard. I would suggest that
he was a carriage driver or butler or some such position rather than the
occupation stated. I would also suggest that if we English speakers spoke as
we write, including orally the "mental notes" we employ ("New sentence,
capital letter", "'know' has a 'k' but it's silent" and so on) this letter
would have been as good as or better than one written by his former owner.
And interesting insight into a man who would have been considered
incapable, because of his color, of leading troops - even troops of the same
color. I know this is getting way off subject but one of my other great
passions in life is the game of cricket. Now, you may think that in the
Twentieth Century attitudes became more liberal. Not so in West Indies
cricket. I watched the first team to be captained by a black man when touring
abroad. It was in 1961 and this was from an area with no particular racial
aspect to their politics as would have been found in, say, South Africa. The
"official" reason given (if any was ever given) was that a colored man lacked
the social refinement required for the captain of an international team.
It looks to me that if Samuel Cabble had still been alive then he may
well be wondering why he and his fellows ever bothered putting on the
uniforms of which they were so proud and to pick up their muskets with which
they felt they could do so much good.
Just a few rambling (if disconnected) thoughts.
PS. It may interest you to know that of the supposedly "uncultured"
all black 1961 team, three later received knighthood's from Queen
Elizabeth...not bad, eh?
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