September 26th--Happy Birthday John Chapman!
This hand written note is the only piece of original writing of Chapman's that I was able to find during my research...a simple note regarding the sale of some of his trees. I always try to use quotes from the person in our letters when I can so I used the date on the note, his signature, and the reference his location and the sale of 38 trees for our letter this month.
Writing these letters can be difficult. Some of the people left behind such large bodies of work that it is difficult to narrow down my focus for the letters and others left behind too little. And then there can be the discrepancy between their legacy and their personal lives which sometimes I don't learn the depths of until I'm deep in research. People who made extraordinary contributions to the world, but who had poor leadership skills, less than admirable romantic lives, or used language that while common in their era is now considered derogatory.
I've chosen to handle these issues by not bringing them up in our letters and leaving them for parents to bring up as they wish. These letters are meant to be an introduction to these people and their works only, not a comprehensive view of them so that you may delve into their lives as much or as little as you feel appropriate for your family. None of the people I have covered in the letters or will ever cover in them are perfect (that requirement would leave me with no letters to offer), I'm simply calling attention to people who have made important contributions to America's history.
The books I recommend are ones that I feel meet the criteria of being beautiful and not bringing up controversial issues. In the case of the Foster letter's songbook in the free downloads I only used the modernized lyrics for his songs as they have been reworded through the years to be more sensitive and respectful of all people. I also specifically mentioned Frederick Douglass's viewpoint of Foster's work in the letter to put it in context of his era, not ours.
I hope it helps to know, in some small way the thought processes that go into our letters. We have a plan to finish up 2019 in a big way with our letters and have a great line up already in the works for 2020! We're grateful to all of you who open your homes to our letters each month and who share in our love of American history!