Mar 28, 2019 - Sale 2503

Sale 2503 - Lot 31

Price Realized: $ 688
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,000 - $ 1,500
(SLAVERY AND ABOLITION.) Dunham, William. An overseer's letter describing a bleak Christmas on the plantation. Autograph Letter Signed to William Gibbons in New York. 3 pages, 9 3/4 x 7 3/4 inches, on one folding sheet, with address panel, inked Savannah postmark stamp and docketing on final blank; seal tear, minimal wear. Whitehall Plantation [Savannah, GA], 26 December 1832

Additional Details

This letter was written by the overseer at Whitehall Plantation, owned by William Gibbons (1794-1852), the day after a grim Christmas which featured a dangerous epidemic among the enslaved laborers, and meager rewards to discourage them from getting drunk. "The day before yesterday I had promised the negroes if they would remain at home & keep sober I would give out the handkerchiefs yesterday. I must keep my word with them. I gave out 28 dozen. . . . I am glad to say I saw but two negroes drunk. I am sorry to say Backus at Fairlawn was one of the two." He also describes in detail the distribution of a new shipment of "negro cloth": "It will not wear well in men's clothes. It will do very well for women." In closing he reports: "The health of some of your negroes is bad plurisy. Dandy is dead and 4 or 5 others very sick. . . . Quamina is as ill as a man can be to keep alive. If he lives the night out, I shall have hopes of him. I remained with him until a late hour at night. Abelard & April sometimes, Cuffee & Seat have all been as bad as Quamina and are now a little better."