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Charles W. Chesnutt to George Washington Cable, 17 October 1889

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  Dear Mr. Cable:-

I return the MS. It contains my ideas, and I am quite willing to let it go in its present shape.1 If it would not interfere with your plan, however, I would suggest one or two changes.:

The repetition of the word "because" might be avoided by putting it at the end of the main proposition, followed by a dash, instead of at the beginning of each argument.

Is not the second argument a little obscure? I thought of this: "This suppression, as practiced, is not confined to the Negroes who are not educated, but bears down with equal weight upon the educated Negro."

It seems to me that the eighth, and ninth, and tenth propositions are rather minor propositions to support the seventh, than directly in support of the main proposition, and might be marked (a) and (b) and (c), leaving the tenth and 11th to be called the 8th and 9th.

I do not insist upon these changes, as perhaps your arrangement may be imperative in connection with the other papers. It has occurred to me that the word "suppress" might be replaced with something else in one or two places with a gain in strength and no loss in clearness, though that, with the rest, I leave to you.

Yours very Truly, Chas. W. Chesnutt— 30 Blackstone Bld'g Cleveland, O.

Correspondent: George Washington Cable (1844–1925) was a reporter, novelist, and critic. He began his career at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, writing nearly one hundred columns in two years. After working on a collection of journalistic essays based mostly on historical accounts, Cable turned to writing short stories, novellas, and novels, typically set in New Orleans. In the 1880s, Cable began lecturing, writing essays, and forming organizations focused on social reform, specifically in the areas of Black rights and prison conditions, and in 1885 he moved to Northampton, MA. Cable and Chesnutt met for the first time in Cleveland, on December 21, 1888, at the Congregational Club's Forefather's Day celebration, where Cable was the principal speaker. They began corresponding immediately, and in mid-1889 Cable offered to employ Chesnutt as his secretary in Northampton, MA; Chesnutt declined. Cable visited the Chesnutt home in the fall of 1889, and for two years, their correspondence was frequent, typically about Cable's political efforts on race issues, Chesnutt's writings, or recent publications. After 1891, they corresponded only occasionally.

1. The manuscript Chesnutt references is his essay responding to an essay by Daniel Henry Chamberlain (1835-1907), which George Washington Cable had solicited for his "Open Letter Club." Cable sent Chamberlain's essay to Chesnutt on September 26, and on October 4 Chesnutt sent his response to Cable. Neither Chamberlain's essay nor Chesnutt's response have been located. [back]