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“Ole Mistiss uster teach me; she taught me to spell liability, publication,   baker, and lady. She never could teach me to write ’cause I had heard Marster   tell about some ‘niggers’ that wanted to get to a free country, and someone   wrote them a pass, and the man was caught and the fingers of his right hand   chopped off, so I was afraid to learn to write–afraid I might write something   that would cause my fingers to get chopped off.

http://msgw.org/slaves/myers-elbert-xslave.htm

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