Thom Jackson Before Stonewall
Yesterday, January 21st, was Stonewall Jackson's 195th birthday. When Jackson was seventeen years old, he and his friend Thaddeus Moore were sent by Jackson’s Uncle Cummins to Parkersburg [VA] to pick up a piece of machinery for the mill. Moore kept a journal of their trip. They passed a farm owned by a Mr. Adams while a slave funeral was in progress. Moore recorded:
“They carried the coffin across the road from the cabin and buried him in the field. It was a nice black coffin and the grave was deep. . . . Thom seemed to be very sorry for the race and thought they should be free and have a chance, and said that Joe Lightburn said they should be taught to read so they could read the Bible, and he thought so too. I told him it would be better not to make known such views.”
Though most of Jackson's views on race no doubt matched those of the majority of other 19th century white Americans, this incident would seem to indicate that he had contemplated the need for slaves to be taught to read long before the efforts in his Lexington, Virginia Sunday school class.