Letter from Susan Blanding to Elizabeth Carpenter, December 1808

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Susan Blanding moved to Camden, South Carolina after her marriage to Dr. William Blanding because of his medical practice.  This letter to her sister in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, illustrates Susan Blanding’s feelings towards the South and slavery.  On the first page, Blanding mentions how she dislikes the South's use of slaves, prefering the industry and liberty of the North. She continues with an unfavorable report of the work ethic of the slaves.  On the last page, Blanding says that although they do not own any slaves at present, they would be forced to if they decided to stay.  Her letter indicates that although she disliked slavery she was not an abolitionist.


Letter from Susan Blanding to Elizabeth Carpenter. 2 December 1808.  William Blanding Papers.  South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.

Correlating SC Social Studies Academic Standards:

Standard 3-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the events that led to the Civil War, the course of the War and Reconstruction, and South Carolina’s role in these events.

Indicator 3-4.1 Compare the conditions of daily life for various classes of people in South Carolina, including the elite, the middle class, the lower class, the independent farmers, and the free and enslaved African Americans. (H,E)

Indicator 3-4.2: Summarize the institution of slavery prior to the Civil War, including reference to conditions in South Carolina, the invention of the cotton gin, subsequent expansion of slavery, and economic dependence on slavery. (H, E, P)

Standard 4-6: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the Civil War and its impact on America.

Indicator 4-6.1 Compare the industrial North and the agricultural South prior to the Civil War, including the specific nature of the economy of each region, the geographic characteristics and boundaries of each region, and the basic way of life in each region. (G , E, H)

Standard 8-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the American Civil War—its causes and effects and the major events that occurred during that time.

Indicator 8-3.1 Explain the importance of agriculture in antebellum South Carolina, including plantation life, slavery, and the impact of the cotton gin. (H, G, E)

Standard USHC-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the causes and the course of the Civil War and Reconstruction in America.

Indicator USHC-4.1 Compare the social and cultural characteristics of the North, the South, and the West during the antebellum period, including the lives of African Americans and social reform movements such as abolition and wo

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