Although this article hit the scene a few years ago, I couldn’t help but point it out again.
This is a letter from Jourdon Anderson to his former slave master in 1864.
An excerpt of the money discussion:
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.
As per Dave Manuel’s inflation calculator, $11,680 in 1864 was worth about $176,969.70 today.
As could be expected, good business — not to mention human decency — led to Jourdon Anderson declining his former master’s tantalizing offer.