Copy of a Letter from John Copeland
Charlestown, Va. Nov. 26. 59
Dear father & mother,
I now take my pen to address you for the first time since I have
been in the situation that I am now in. My silence has not been
occasioned by any want of love for you but because I wished to wait
& find what my doom would be. I am well at this time & as
happy as it is possible to be under the circumstances. I received
your kind and affectionate letter, which brought much consolation
to me, & the advice that you have therein given me, I thank
God I can say I have accepted, & I have found that consolation
which ran only be found by accepting & obeying such advice.
Dear father & mother, happy am I that I can now truthfully say,
that I have sought the Holy Bible & have found that everlasting
Life in its holy advice, which man can from no other source obtain.
Yes, I have now in the eleventh hour sought for & obtained that
forgiveness from my God, whose kindness I have outraged nearly all-my
Dear Parents, my fate so far as man can seal it, is sealed, but
let not this fact occasion you any misery; for remember the cause
in which I was engaged, remember it as a holy cause, one
in which men in every way better than I am, have suffered &
died. Remember that if I must die, I die in-trying to liberate a
few of my poor & oppressed people from a condition of servitude
against which God in his word has hurled his most bitter denunciations,
a cause in which men, who though removed from its direct injurious
effects by the color of their faces have already lost their lives,
& more yet must meet the fate which man has decided I must meet.
If die I must, I shall try to meet my fate as a man who can suffer
in the glorious cause in which I have been engaged, without a groan,
& meet my Maker in heaven as a christian man who through the
saving grace of God has made his peace with Him.
Dear Parents, dear bros & sisters, miserable indeed would
I be if I were confined in this jail awaiting the execution of the
law for committing a foul crime; but this not being the case, I
must say, (though I know you all will feel deeply the fate I am
to meet,) that I feel more deeply on acct of the necessity
of myself or any other man having to suffer by the existence of
slavery, than from the mere fact of having to die. It is true I
should like to see you all once more on the earth, but God wills
otherwise; therefore I am content, for most certainly do I believe
that God wills everything for the best good, not only of those who
have to suffer directly, but of all, & this being the case I
beg of you not to grieve about me.
Now dear Parents I beg your forgiveness for every wrong I have
done you, for I know that I have not at all times treated you as
I ought to have done. Remember me while I shall live & forget
me not when I am no longer in this world. Give my love to all friends.
There are some little matters that I would give most anything to
have settled-& made right. There have been misrepresentations
of things which I have said; & if I can I shall correct them.
Oh brothers, I pray you may never have to suffer as I shall have
to do: stay at home contentedly, make your home happy not only to
yourselves but to all with whom you may be connected. Dear Brothers
& Sisters, love one another, make each other happy, love, serve
& obey your God, & meet me in heaven. Now, dear father &
mother, I will close this last,or at present I think last
letterI shall have the pleasure of writing to you.
Good-bye Mother & Father, Goodbye brothers & sisters, &
by the assistance of God, meet me in heaven.
I remain your most affectionate sonJohn A. Copeland.
Copied very hastily by
Mrs. E.B. Clark