Feb 21, 2008 - Sale 2137

Sale 2137 - Lot 4

Estimate: $ 3,500 - $ 5,000
"YOUR NOTES GIVE A STAB TO IT." (SLAVERY AND ABOLITION.) CAMDEN, CALVERT AND KING. Two letters (one a part of the other, being a copy of a previous letter) to Francis Grant, Esq., attorney for numerous Jamaican planters. Folio leaf, folded to form four 4to pages, written on two sides, addressed and docketed on a third; remnants of a seal and three pence frank. A note on the docketing states "Recvd. 2 Feby, 1789, no answer." Some very light smudging; creases where folded. (London, 3 November, 3 December, 1788)

Additional Details

The firm of Camden, Calvert and King was one of the most powerful 18th-century London companies dealing in African slaves. This two-part letter to an associate, Francis Grant, an attorney in Jamaica, is an extraordinarily candid discussion of their dealings in the slave trade. They caution him about keeping to his side of a business agreement and issuing "notes" in lieu of money due to them: "We address you the 6th of August, since we are favored with yours of 1st and 24th July. The former enclosing duplicates of account sales etc, the latter acquainting us of the arrival of our ship Fly to your address. We hope the selling of her cargo will not interfere with any plan that may be more agreeable to you than that of the selling cargoes of slaves, consigned to you . . . you have made our situation painful, by your remittances . . . particularly, them for the Venus' cargo . . . in short, you cannot oblige us more than by letting us have money for your notes." Thomas Clarkson said of the notorious ship "Fly," "The sight of the rooms below and the gratings above filled me with both melancholy and horror." The second letter goes on "If you mean to stay in Jamaica and think the sale of slaves an object, it's to your interest to do what we request of you . . . it is our intention to send our ship Recovery, captain Hewson to be with you late in next year with 370 slaves to load produce on our account home . . . while we are in the trade, we could not suffer a risk of its being stagnated, as it is now by such remittances as you have sent us. The business we are in will not admit of it. We have very seldom less on the Coast of Africa than property to purchase at least 2000 slaves, that together with ships and craft for the purpose . . . require our every resource to enable us to keep up a tolerable degree of credit. Your notes give a stab to it . . . They clog the wheels of our commerce. And you may be assured that they would have put a total stop to many as (sic) respectable house in this city."