Thomas Jackson's Ambassadors

Family Ties: Part 2

Wedding of Charles and Gertrude Slater.
Having reached America, they eloped and married, had a child, and then returned to their hometown in England for the rest of their lives.

Charles and Gertrude in their garden in Eastwood Nottinghamshire
They both lived into old age and had a long and happy marriage.

Charles & Gertrude with their 5 children
Helen Slater is bottom row, far right; Elsie is top row far right

Helen Paling and Elsie Machin in later years.
This website is dedicated to them

The Ambassadors For Thomas Jackson
John Paling         David Machin

Family Ties: Part 1
Charles Lincoln Slater

Charles Lincoln Slater was the grandfather of the two cousins living in two countries who are the current "Ambassadors for Thomas Jackson".
Charles's mother died during his birth and he was brought up by two unmarried aunts. He was skilled in ornamental terracotta work.

Chalets Lincoln Slater (4th from the left back row) on way to America
On the boat, he met Gertrude Lucy Owers who was being sent over to look after an uncle who had just lost his wife. (A socially accepted form of slavery at the time?)

Charles Lincoln Slater (center) ready to take New York by storm.

A tale of two sets of cousins.

The Thomas Jackson letters would not have been written were it not for the lasting relationship between Thomas and his English cousin, Caleb Slater. The family bonds and shared experiences of growing up near each other in England survived many decades after Thomas had moved to live in America and built his business there. The ongoing relationship between the two cousins living in two countries served as the lubricant that caused these letters to be written.

Now four generations and nearly 150 years later, two other cousins have worked together to make Thomas Jackson’s powerful testimony against slavery available for all on the internet. In a striking parallel to Thomas and Caleb, these cousins also grew up near each other in England but then one moved to America to live for most of his adult life while the other stayed in England (living in the same community where Caleb used to have his rope walk). They too stayed in close touch all their lives and were like minded in wanting these family letters to become more widely known. They also felt the responsibility to make them available as the basis of further research and, in time, to pass the originals on to an appropriate organization for posterity.

John Paling (great grandson of Caleb Slater) is one of the two cousins from the present generation who see their role to be “Ambassadors for Thomas Jackson”. Like Thomas Jackson, he left England and is now a long-time American citizen living in Florida.

David Machin (also great grandson of Caleb Slater) is the second cousin who makes up the self proclaimed “Ambassadors”. Like Caleb, he was a long-time, active member of the community in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England but now lives with his wife and family in Canterbury, England. Thomas Jackson represents a great great uncle for both John and David.

John and David’s mothers were daughters of Charles Lincoln Slater and stayed close to each other all their long lives. They both shared the characteristics of being endlessly cheerful, making do with little through two world wars and dedicating themselves selflessly to their families. It is an outcome of their strong love of family that their two surviving sons have come together to produce this website. They dedicate it to the memories of their mothers.

A local newspaper found out about the coincidence of the two modern day cousins paralleling their relatives’ activities a century and half previously.

Notes on the letters by The Ambassadors of Thomas Jackson.

Although neither John Paling nor David Machin view themselves as experts on American history, they felt it would be worthwhile to add their own Notes to accompany each letter. Even though these somewhat amateur commentaries might seem elementary to some readers, they hoped that their own research and their familiarity with the family relationships throughout the whole collection might make the letters more meaningful to readers.

The Ambassadors want to make this site as valuable as possible to all visitors, not just by making public Thomas Jackson’s words written long ago but also by encouraging others to comment on the contents. Undoubtedly many visitors to this site will be far better placed to offer insights and context than the Ambassadors. For this reason, they encourage all visitors to the site to offer their own perspectives on the original letters and the events they record. In that way, they hope to have a rich collection of additional material under the Readers’ Comments section attached to each letter.

In addition, visitors can send personal notes not intended for consideration for publication to