Thursday, August 5, 2010


While preaching in Tulsa, Oklahoma my wife and I visited the Gilcrease Museum. Advertised as 'one of the country's best facilities for the preservation and study of American art and history', it houses over 100,000 books, manuscripts, documents, and maps, some dating back to 1494, two years after Christopher Columbus landed on our shores. Among many rare and historic documents and paintings I viewed copies, not photo-copies, but original hand made copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation, both signed by Benjamin Franklin.

To write that I was impressed is a huge understatement, but a small one page handwritten document affected me the most. It was a two column inventory roll entitled the "Complete listing of the slaves of the Robert M. Compton estate with age, name, and their value Madison County Tenn. 1848".

On it a six year old boy named Cos was valued at $275.00. A twenty five year old male named Stephen was valued at $650.00, a young woman, Sylvia - $425.00. As I read this list my heart began to ache. But the most heart breaking record of all was this one, (and I record it here just as it appeared on the original inventory): "Old Ben, age 65, no value, -0-".

How terrible!

How much is a person worth?

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