Mar 28, 2019 - Sale 2503

Sale 2503 - Lot 13

Estimate: $ 5,000 - $ 7,500
(SLAVERY AND ABOLITION.) An auction broadside from northern New York offering "a likely Negro Wench, with a female child." Letterpress broadside, 12 1/4 x 10 inches, signed in type by the administratrix Achsah de Fonclair; worn with several holes and partial separations at folds but only minimal loss of text. Johnstown, NY: Asa Child, 22 February 1811

Additional Details

This auction for the estate of Vaumane de Fonclair was held in the town of Johnstown, 45 miles northwest of Albany, NY in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. The usual articles of a prosperous rural landholder are on offer: hogs, a riding chair, mahogany chairs. At the bottom is a postscript: "A likely Negro Wench, with a female child, about one year old, to be sold at private sale."
Vaumane de Fonclair was a French military officer who came to America to seek his fortune before 1790. The 1810 census lists two slaves in his household. His widow Achsah Kibbe de Fonclair (1761-1831), who arranged this sale, was an American.
While slavery was an institution throughout the northern states as well as the south during this period, in the far north it was rarely on a scale large enough for dedicated slave auctions to be held. Slaves were more often sold privately or purchased directly through merchants connected with the south. We can only guess that the estate administrators here wanted a private sale to avoid the unpleasant spectacle of a woman and child on the auction block. Abolitionism was starting to gather momentum during this period, and some citizens of Johnstown might have been moved to protest.