'My Whole Desire Was to Choose Him for My Companion'

In 1867, Carrie Hall, a white woman, married Sandy Alexander Hall, a black man. They were, like many interracial couples, tormented by whites in fear of the fall of white supremacy. Here is Carrie Hall's appeal to the local Freedman's Bureau.

Dear Sir,

As you are the Bureau agent of this county, I have some advice to ask of you, if you please, concerning myself and my husband.  I am a White woman and my husband is a Colored gentleman. Some two or three years ago, I became very much attached to this colored gentleman for whom my desire grew stronger and stronger every day of my life, and my whole desire was to choose him for my Companion and my Husband through life,and he was the only one on this earth that I desired for a husband and I never would have been happy without him.
 
But of course we had to keep all of this a secret to ourselves, fearing that the white people would trouble him about me and I would not have him hurt on my account no way in this world, for my respect and love towards him was too great for anything of that kind to trouble his mind, and I would stand up in any crowd to save him from any trouble if I had it to do, or if I have it to, for it is me that is the cause of this being carried on as far as it is so, for me charging him to marry me. 

We came to the conclusion some two or three months ago that we would get married and see what would be the trouble with us anyway. So he got his licenses and paid for them and we were married by an ordained minister of the Gospel, though our marriage was somewhat secret we are lawfully and honestly husband and wife before God and Man and would be one of the happiest couples in the world if it were not for this: Some of the white people have learned some or the other that we are married, or at least that I have married a colored gentleman and I hear they are making great talk of what they are going to do and my mind is in great trouble fearing they may try to carry out some of their plans.

I have no relations near me to interfere with us and besides I am an orphan and have been working for my self ever since I was eleven years of age and now I am twenty-six years of age no one has any right to interfere with me or my husband or at least I don't think they have under the circumstances as he was my choice. 

And now my dear sir the advice I ask of you is this: If you please to let me know if anyone has any rights or law or Authority to interfere with us and if not will you be kind enough to give each of us, from your hand a writing that will save us from any trouble--that is, if it is in your power to do so. If it is not and you can not attend to to it for us, will you please inform me who to apply to. If you can, please give us two notes--one for me and one for my husband. My husband is living in Ala. and I am living in Ga. The reason we are not living together is he is in a contract on a plantation and can not leave until the end of the year. I left the neighborhood knowing that the white people would be against me for marrying this colored gentleman.

I am living with my husband's Uncle in Georgetown, Ga. If you can understand my trouble by this letter and can help me out, please do so as soon as you can and I never can thank you for as long as I live. I will now give you my husband's name--Sandy Alexander Hall lives near Eufala Barbour Co., Ala. My name is Carrie Hall living in Georgetown, Ga. I write you confidentially. Please answer this as soon as you can and excuse my bad writing and spelling and also the letter. I wrote it in the best of my knowledge, and hope you might understand it.,

Yours, 
Very Respectfully,
Carrie Hall

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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