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1830 Letter, Kentucky grandee to ex-slave

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1830 Letter, Kentucky grandee to ex-slave

Lot 0004 Details

Description
Heading: (African American, 1830)
Author: Dallam, Will[iam] S[mith]
Title: Autograph Letter Signed from a wealthy Kentucky patrician to a freed slave about proving his emancipation
Place Published: Lexington, Kentucky
Publisher:
Date Published: June 15, 1830
Description:

3 pp. including 1pg. handwritten manumission certification + integral stampless address leaf. 8x12". addressed to "Thomas (a Freeblack)", Russellville, Logan County, Kentucky. c/o Thomas M. Smith, Counsellor at Law.

Signed "Your friend, Will S. Dallam". William Winton Smith Dallam, the wealthiest resident of Lexington, married the daughter of Patrick Henry's sister, and had entertained James Monroe, as well as Andrew Jackson and the Marquis de Lafayette at his Latrobe-designed mansion.

He writes to an ex-slave whom he also calls "friend": "...I am willing to aid you as far as I can in obtaining the necessary papers to establish your Title to Freedom and have sent you such a Certificate [the third page of the letter] as I have given to the others who were manumitted in Maryland. I really do not know who was your Mother if I ever did it has escaped my recollection...your old Master took you for a Debt... you were not one of the original family servants but it is probable that your Master Richard B. Dallam could inform you better on the subject..." The Certificate he sent had been accepted by the Courts and used by other freed slaves to obtain "regular papers" - at a cost of $5. ("by enclosing me the money will get them for you here") "You mention that some of your Master Richard's people are suing for their Freedom." But "none that he got from his Father are regularly manumitted as their master did not comply with the Law which in that day was very particular and they had better be quiet about it or the Sheriff will seize them and sell them for his Debts when it is once known they are not entitled to their Freedom on account of a defect in the Deed of Manumission by their Master as Richard is much in Debt and his Crediters will be glad to get at any thing." There follows the certificate which reads, "I do hereby Certify the Negroe Tom formerly the property of Colonel Richard Dallam was regularly manumitted in... Maryland and is a well [?] man and is therefore a Free Man..."

The Dallam family, descended from a Welsh immigrant who had settled in Maryland and moved to Kentucky in the early 1800s. The elder Richard Dallam, William's cousin, was a large plantation owner who died leaving his son vast acreage and vast debts - as well as many slaves. William Dallam was a thrifty financier, rather than a gentleman farmer; he had also inherited land through his wife's father, a Revolutionary War General. He dealt in slaves "for lease" as a business proposition, but Census records show him owning a few young girls, undoubtedly his house servants. As a young man, he had traveled in revolutionary France, where he had met Monroe, then the US Ambassador in Paris. It is possible he was ambivalent about of slavery, and had no reservations about befriending an ex-slave - or advising other slaves to circumvent the law.

Condition
Letter splitting at upper folds, loss to one word of text; reinforced with archival tape; else good.
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1830 Letter, Kentucky grandee to ex-slave

Estimate $600 - $900
Jun 10
Starting Price $300
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0004: 1830 Letter, Kentucky grandee to ex-slave

Sold for $450
7 Bids
Est. $600 - $900Starting Price $300
Americana-Zamorano 80-Travel-History-Maps
Thu, Jun 10, 2021 02:00 PM
Buyer's Premium 25%

Lot 0004 Details

Description
...
Heading: (African American, 1830)
Author: Dallam, Will[iam] S[mith]
Title: Autograph Letter Signed from a wealthy Kentucky patrician to a freed slave about proving his emancipation
Place Published: Lexington, Kentucky
Publisher:
Date Published: June 15, 1830
Description:

3 pp. including 1pg. handwritten manumission certification + integral stampless address leaf. 8x12". addressed to "Thomas (a Freeblack)", Russellville, Logan County, Kentucky. c/o Thomas M. Smith, Counsellor at Law.

Signed "Your friend, Will S. Dallam". William Winton Smith Dallam, the wealthiest resident of Lexington, married the daughter of Patrick Henry's sister, and had entertained James Monroe, as well as Andrew Jackson and the Marquis de Lafayette at his Latrobe-designed mansion.

He writes to an ex-slave whom he also calls "friend": "...I am willing to aid you as far as I can in obtaining the necessary papers to establish your Title to Freedom and have sent you such a Certificate [the third page of the letter] as I have given to the others who were manumitted in Maryland. I really do not know who was your Mother if I ever did it has escaped my recollection...your old Master took you for a Debt... you were not one of the original family servants but it is probable that your Master Richard B. Dallam could inform you better on the subject..." The Certificate he sent had been accepted by the Courts and used by other freed slaves to obtain "regular papers" - at a cost of $5. ("by enclosing me the money will get them for you here") "You mention that some of your Master Richard's people are suing for their Freedom." But "none that he got from his Father are regularly manumitted as their master did not comply with the Law which in that day was very particular and they had better be quiet about it or the Sheriff will seize them and sell them for his Debts when it is once known they are not entitled to their Freedom on account of a defect in the Deed of Manumission by their Master as Richard is much in Debt and his Crediters will be glad to get at any thing." There follows the certificate which reads, "I do hereby Certify the Negroe Tom formerly the property of Colonel Richard Dallam was regularly manumitted in... Maryland and is a well [?] man and is therefore a Free Man..."

The Dallam family, descended from a Welsh immigrant who had settled in Maryland and moved to Kentucky in the early 1800s. The elder Richard Dallam, William's cousin, was a large plantation owner who died leaving his son vast acreage and vast debts - as well as many slaves. William Dallam was a thrifty financier, rather than a gentleman farmer; he had also inherited land through his wife's father, a Revolutionary War General. He dealt in slaves "for lease" as a business proposition, but Census records show him owning a few young girls, undoubtedly his house servants. As a young man, he had traveled in revolutionary France, where he had met Monroe, then the US Ambassador in Paris. It is possible he was ambivalent about of slavery, and had no reservations about befriending an ex-slave - or advising other slaves to circumvent the law.

Condition
...
Letter splitting at upper folds, loss to one word of text; reinforced with archival tape; else good.

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