May 07, 2020 - Sale 2534

Sale 2534 - Lot 52

Price Realized: $ 1,375
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,500 - $ 2,500
(SLAVERY AND ABOLITION.) Lisle, John; and Eliza Capen Stewart. An African-American minster introduces the Rev. Josiah Henson. Autograph Letter Signed as E.C. Stewart and John Liles to Almira Porter Barnes (visiting in Berlin, CT) with inked Troy, NY postmark. 6 pages, 12 1/4 x 7 1/2 inches on one folding sheet plus a smaller inserted sheet; mailing folds, small tear from seal, minimal wear. Syracuse and Troy, NY, 25 and 26 January 1848

Additional Details

This remarkable joint letter is addressed to Almira Porter Barnes (1786-1858), an early supporter of Oberlin College and abolitionist causes. The main body of the letter is by white philanthropist Eliza Capen Stewart (1806-1894), one of the founders of Oberlin College, and a leader of the Troy Anti-Slavery Society. Some of the letter is devoted to abolitionist matters. In a postscript, she notes that "Mr. H and myself have agreed to call on Mr. White to see if the First Church can be had for Douglass to deliver an address before our A[nti] S[lavery] Society, as he is to be here next week." She adds "Father Henson is here come in the morning, asking for help for his mill and school. I enclose a line he brought from Mr. Lisle."
The inserted one-page letter, on a smaller 7 x 7 1/2-inch sheet, is from the Rev. John Lisle of Syracuse, NY, an African-American Congregationalist minister and leader in the local branch of the Underground Railroad. He offers an introduction to the Rev. Josiah Henson, leader of the Dawn Settlement for fugitive slaves in Ontario, and a major inspiration for Uncle Tom's Cabin: "Allow me to introduse to your notice the barer the Rev. Josiah Henson, the agent of the British American Institute at Dawn Mills, Canada West. He will anser eny questains respecting the conversation we had in referance to [?] station in the Canada Mishion and as he is direcly from thare he can give all the information that wold be of interrris to you and the society of witch you are the president."
On the back of Lisle's letter, Stewart has added another postscript defending Rev. Isaac J. Rice, a white missionary who was sometimes suspected of misdirecting antislavery donations: "Mr. Henson states that there were those whom Mr. Rice had clothed from head to foot, who had not honesty enough to get up and own it, wicked men who wanted to carry a point against Mr. Rice." Henson does concede that "his wife is not strong in mind, and Mr. Rice also is a little lacking."