Mar 24, 2022 - Sale 2598

Sale 2598 - Lot 47

Price Realized: $ 6,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,500 - $ 3,500
(SLAVERY & ABOLITION.) Letter written on stationery, with the famed engraving by Patrick Reason. Autograph Letter Signed from Austin F. Williams to wife Jennette Cowles Williams in Farmington, CT, on printed letterhead "Engraved by P. Reason, a Colored Young man of the City of New York, 1835." 3 pages, 9 3/4 x 8 inches, plus address panel on final blank bearing New York postmark; mailing folds, seal tear on final leaf, otherwise minimal wear. New York, 22 October 1836 (on 1835 letterhead)

Additional Details

This engraving was produced by Patrick Henry Reason (1816-1892) of New York, an early Black engraver. The image went on to be used frequently by the American Anti-Slavery Society, including in the 1836 book "The Fountain for Every Day in the Year," and sometimes appeared with the caption "Am I Not a Woman and a Sister."

This letterhead was used by Austin Franklin Williams (1805-1885), a leading white abolitionist from Farmington, CT who made his home a stop on the Underground Railroad, helped form the defense committee for the Amistad captives in 1839, and then built a house for the freed male captives where they resided until their return to Africa in 1841.

This letter was written before the Amistad case, but Williams was already deeply involved in the abolitionist cause. Around Reason's engraving, he has written "Remember those that are in bond, as bound with them." The letter contains mostly family news, and also discusses a legal case which may or may not be abolition-related: "You say the young men had a time of rejoicing. Who were acquitted? I heard by Ch. that 5, but have not seen the names. As for what the lawyers and our F[armingto]n friends! say about my testimony, I care not one straw about it. I am glad, however, that some of the good people saw as I did, but what I did see I know for a certain. One thing I have for my comfort, my conscience is quiet as I wish it to being on that subject."