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The Primary Document: Letter from Sally Smith to her Mother, July 1, 1671:

“Dearest Mother,

More than a year has past since my first letter to you. I got no reply from you. This makes me feel sorrow and disturbed that you may have not received it or some terrible event may [have] befallen you. I must pray you are well. I am not well. The work here on the farm in Virginia never seems to end and it goes on day and night. I rise in the morning and work to prepare food for the men and other servants. Some of them treat me fine but others do not. Mr. Garvey is unjust and vicious with all of us and he may not know or not care what his actions are doing [amongst] the work hands. He owns three slaves and he has four English servants all men but me. That they talk amongst their selves is not his concern. That they work with the tobacco from sun up to sun down is all he wants. The tobacco keeps this farm [running?] and this is true for all around us. The country around us [has] dangers for all to see. I work the tobacco as well as my other duties in the house and garden with my Mistress Garvey. I can say no thing about her but she is unjust and vicious like the master. She gives me no clothes apart from the home spun I must wear all the time. She is jealous of me and my age because I am 21 years and she is twice that with no children of her own. If I live beyond my service I will be 24 years. Virginia is no place for the poor but I know London is the same and I wish you well there. We have the fever season now and most all are sick. I now wake up sick and must survive the day. If I feel well I go to town on Saturday my time to gather supplies with the mistress. I will then try to deliver [mail] this letter, from your loving daughter,

Sally Smith.”

Assignment: Write a three-page primary source analysis regarding this letter written by an indentured servant in Virginia named Sally Smith. 1) Your first paragraph should describe in detail the content of the letter; in other words, what information does Sally choose to convey to her mother. 2) The rest of your essay should analyze/interpret this 1671 document in its historical context. (Note: analyzing the source is different from summarizing it: we are asking for your interpretation based on what else you know.) Possible issues related to the “historical context” include (but are not limited to):

-how does the letter’s content relate to what we know about the Virginia colony?

-how does Sally address issues of race, class, and gender?

-what tensions does he describe and why might these be important?

-why would Sally become an indentured servant in this English colony?

-how does her letter compare to Richard Frethorne’s 1623 account?

Please use the course readings (the textbook and related primary documents), lectures, and discussions to assist you with the historical context and whatever interpretation you derive from the letter. You may include quotes from these sources in support of your own interpretation of the historical context and analysis of the letter. Cite your sources, for instance (Frethorne letter, 1623) or (Igler lecture, Oct. 16) or (American Yawp, ch. 2 or 3).

Do not use outside source material. This is not a group project. The writing you turn in must be your own. The rules regarding plagiarism (see syllabus) apply to this assignment.

Texts:

**The American Yawp: A Massively Collaborative Open U.S. History Textbook. Stanford University, 2019.http://www.americanyawp.com

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