Glass freedom project
CREATED BY THE BULLSEYE GLASS COMPANY
The “Glass Freedom Project,” created by the owners of the Bullseye Glass Company, was founded to enrich and educate underprivileged children while honoring the legacy of freed slaves Jourdan and Amanda Anderson. The Bullseye Glass Company is based in Portland, Oregon but the owners have deep ties to Tennessee. In fact, the great-great-grandfather of the owner, Patrick Anderson, was a Confederate Colonel in the United States Civil War and a slave owner. For the purposes of finding educators for their program and supporting black-owned businesses, Bullseye Glass reached out to Betty Turney-Turner – one of only 3 black glass shop owners in the US. Upon some research into their family histories, they discovered Jourdan and Amanda Anderson were distant relatives to Betty and that they were owned by Patrick Anderson. This information weighs heavy on the Bullseye Glass Company owners. In order to ignite the healing of all parties involved Bullseye Glass has pledged reparations to finance the supplies and space needed for Betty to conduct her education.
This story begins in 1864. Following the end of the civil war, Jourdan Anderson was granted freedom from Col. Anderson’s plantation in Tennessee. Jourdan and his family received their freedom papers and headed to Ohio to start a new life. Meanwhile, back in Tennessee, Col. Anderson’s plantation was failing without the revenue generated from the free labor of hard-working slaves. As such, he wrote to Jourdan, imploring him to come back and work on the plantation for wage this time. Jourdan, in a masterfully written letter, replied by stating the only way he and his family could forgive the horrid treatment they received would be for Col. Anderson to show proof of his change in character. This proof was to come in the form of $11,680 – the total amount of compensation calculated by Jourdan for his 32 years of unpaid servitude. Col. Anderson declined this offer. Shortly after, his plantation failed, the Colonel went bankrupt and killed himself. This story serves as a microcosm of America’s history. America’s social and financial prowess was built largely on the backs of slaves who worked in deplorable conditions without pay. The Bullseye Glass Company is taking on some of this guilt and working to correct this long lineage of mistreatment.
Read Jourdan Anderson's Letter Here
August 7, 1865
To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee
Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin’s to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.
I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy,—the folks call her Mrs. Anderson,—and the children—Milly, Jane, and Grundy—go to school and are learning well. The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, “Them colored people were slaves” down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.
As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor’s visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams’s Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night; but in Tennessee there was never any pay-day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.
In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve—and die, if it come to that—than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.
Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.
From your old servant,
As a result of this impactful story, Bullseye Glass is funding Betty and her company, “This Little Light: Glass Art Gallery & Shop” with the amount requested by Jourdan Anderson – $11,680. While this is by no means equivalent to its worth in 1865, but it is hoped to be a start to the path of healing. It is through the education of the next generation that the Glass Freedom Project hopes to grow this gesture into something much larger. This project has proven to enrich the children involved with a sense of confidence at creating, as well as growing their curiosity and knowledge in science, history, art, and culture in general. Cultivating the coming generation with a foundation in the arts and glasswork – funded in part by reparations – will help foster a society founded in understanding and community values.