I remember the days of my youth. You see I am an old man now. I was foolish then, unwise. I was headstrong and thought I deserved to be King of the World. I was that way until I met them. Ah, yes. Them. Now listen closely, for I wish to tell you my story and my encounter with them.
It was during the end of the Civil War. I inherited from my father a slave powered tobacco plantation in Virginia. I therefore wanted the Confederates to win and keep slavery in America. I would have lost all my money, of which I had plenty.
My family and I lived in a mansion on our property. We had slaves that did our housework and cooking. I had a wife named Rosemary. Rosemary had started a Ban Slavery Association, which she called BSA. She was being silly. Rosemary didn’t understand that the slaves made the tobacco that I sold to feed us and give us a wonderful home. No, she didn’t understand at all.
We had three children. Two boys and one girl. My two twin boys at the age of three were named Robert and Jackson because of the famous Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson. I tried to get Rosemary to name our daughter Lee, but she named her Martha.
One early morning I was sitting on the terrace of our mansion, smoking my pipe (with my own tobacco) and watching my slaves begin to work. It was dawn so Rosemary and the children weren’t up. I usually worked the slaves from dawn to dusk.
I felt so royal sitting up there. Not a speck of humbleness was in me. I was pleased. I had a wife, children, a mansion, plenty of money, a tobacco plantation full of slaves and I could hear the roar of cannons and artillery in the distance. I was positive the Confederates were giving the Union a good, large whooping. What else could I possibly want?
I was thinking these contented thoughts when I heard someone approach. Two young men, covered in soot, ash and mud stood before me. You could dimly make out the gray uniform of the South and the blue uniform of the North. “What do you want?” I questioned.
The one in the blue stepped forward. “Sir, we come from the skirmish a few miles yonder. We came to ask you a question.” The young soldier replied. “Well, spit it out boy. What have you got to say?” I prodded him.
He asked,” Sir, do you believe in liberty, justice, freedom and most importantly equality? Or do you believe in bondage?”
The Confederate had a smug look on his face. As if he knew, he was winning. But winning in what? I had no clue. I didn’t know the answer to the boy from the Union. So I replied,” I don’t know. Come back later and you shall have my answer.”
The smug look was gone from his face. I realized he wanted me to answer now and pick what he wanted. I was pondering his young soldier in gray, when another young man appeared. I realized the two young men were now gone, as if whisked away by some invisible magician. This new fellow wore the blue of the Union and had several medals pinned to his uniform. He had long brown hair pulled back neatly into a ponytail that was braided with elegant ribbons. I did not get the other two’s names so I asked of his. He answered,” My name is Justice. For those who do wrong get punished and those who do right are rewarded.”
Justice was wise for his years. Much wiser than I, even though I was a few years older. As I reflect on it now, I believe that he was wise because he believed in liberty for all unlike I did.
Justice’s sharp blue eyes held more knowledge and power than I could ever imagine in one person alone. I thought myself capable of being King of the World! How much more mislead could I be?
I heard more footsteps, but they were lighter, more graceful. It was a woman. An African American woman. I watched as Justice pulled her to him and lightly kiss her on the head.
“This is my wife, Freedom.’ Justice stated. Freedom had her black hair pulled back into a tight bun. Though she wore the rags of a slave, Freedom radiated power not unlike her husband.
“I bring peace and tranquility to those who need it. And you Henry Barsh need it.’ Freedom whispered. Even though she whispered it, what she said rang in my ears. “And you, Henry Barsh, need it.’ How did she know my name? What did she mean by that? I was very peaceful. These thoughts raced through my head.
Then a young child stepped out from behind her parents. Her body was divided in half! One half was white the other black. In a loud voice she said,” My name is Equality. For all men are equal no matter their color or race.”
I was on my knees now holding Equality’s small hand in mine. She reminded me so much of Martha. I couldn’t believe that I wanted to enslave people, enslave this poor little girl and her mother. Own them as if they were property.
Suddenly they were gone. I was looking for them when, two pairs of footsteps approached me. It was the two soldiers. “Before you speak, give me your name.” I ordered.
“My name is Bondage; that’s Liberty.” The gray soldier remarked. Liberty stepped up and said,’ Sir, do you believe in liberty, justice, freedom, and most importantly equality? Or do you believe in bondage?”
“What did we fight for in the American Revolution?” I questioned, “We fought for freedom of Britain! We fought for our liberty, for our justice! We fight for the same thing now, but equality is involved. We fight against bondage and slavery! You there, you filthy Confederate, you fight for bondage and slavery! So be gone you fool! The war is soon over and the Union will win! Go back to your farms full of slaves and torture them one last time!
“I believe in all things good! I believe in liberty, justice, freedom, and most importantly equality! I do not believe in bondage!” I answered maybe just a tad enthusiastic.
Unexpectedly, I heard my wife calling. I blinked my eyes open. It was almost eight o’clock. I must have dosed off. “Coming Rosie!” I called back. But first, I had something to do.
Liberty and Bondage had left and I called down to my men watching my slaves, “Set them all free! Give them all plenty of money! Give them all plenty of food and certificates saying they are free men of the Union! They stared at me for a couple seconds, and then realized I wasn’t joking around. The slaves, free men of the Union, cheered for their freedom.
In the next month, General Robert E. Lee surrendered. I rejoiced. I invited all my former slaves to come to a large celebration.
I have now related my events of my youth. You have learned about them. I now retire, as my tale has been told. Remember it and don’t make the same mistake as I did.
Liberty, Justice, Freedom, Equality (and definitely not bondage) For All!