Tuesday, May 19, 2020

1793 American Mother & Child

1793 Ralph Earl (1751-1801). Sarah McCurdy (Mrs. Henry Channing) and Son Henry William

Monday, May 18, 2020

18C Early American Timeline 1710-1729

1711 Artist: Henrietta Johnston 1674-1729. Subject: Henriette Charlotte de Chastaigner, Mrs Nathaniel Broughton

3,000 German men and women from the Palatinate settle near Livingston Manor on the Hudson River in New York to produce naval stores. When the colony fails, the settlers go first to the Mohawk Valley (in New York) and finally to eastern Pennsylvania.

The English Parliament passes the Post Office Act which sets a postal system for the American colonies controlled by the postmaster general of London and his deputy in New York City.

New York forbids blacks, Indians, and mulattos from walking at night without lighted lanterns.

Pennsylvania prohibits the importation of male & female blacks and Indians.

Rhode Island prohibits the clandestine importation of male & female black and Indian slaves. (See this blog for more information of enslaved women in the 18th century.)

Tuscarora Indian War in North and South Carolina. Hostilities break out between Native Americans and settlers in North Carolina after the massacre of male & female settlers there.

The Carolina colony is officially divided into North Carolina and South Carolina.

Charles II's Grant of New England to the Duke of York, 1676 - Exemplified by Queen Anne; October 30

The Pennsylvania assembly bans the import of male & female slaves into that colony.

In Massachusetts, the first sperm whale is captured at sea by an American from Nantucket.

Grace Smith writes The Dying Mothers Legacy: Or the Good and Heavenly Counsel of that Eminent and Pious Matron, Mrs. Grace Smith, late Widow to Mr. Ralph Smith of Eastham in New-England. Left as a Perpetual Monitor to Her Surviving Children; As It Was Taken from Her Own Mouth a Little Before Her Death, by the Minister From that Town Where She Died. Boston, Printed and sold by Timothy Green, at the lower-end of Middle-Street, 1712

An alleged slave revolt in New York City leads to violent outbreaks. Nine whites are killed and eighteen slaves are executed.

New York declares it illegal for male & female blacks, Indians, and slaves to murder other blacks, Indians, and slaves. And New York forbids freed blacks, Indians, and mulatto slaves from owning real estate and holding property.

In Charleston, South Carolina male & female slaves are forbidden from hiring themselves out.

England's South Sea Company is allowed to transport 4,800 male & female slaves per year into the Spanish colonies of North America.

Queen Anne's War ends with the Treaty of Utrecht.

George I becomes king of England (r. 1714–27).

Tea is introduced for the first time into the American Colonies. 1715 Artist: Henrietta Johnson 1674-1729. Subject: Mary Magdalen Gendron, Mrs Samuel Prioleu 1691-1765

Yamasee tribes attack and kill several hundred male & female Carolina settlers.

Rhode Island legalizes slavery.

Maryland declares all slaves entering the province and their descendants to be slaves for life.

South Carolina settlers and their Cherokee allies attack and defeat the Yamassee.

The first group of black slaves is brought to the Louisiana territory. 1717-18 Artist: Henrietta Johnston 1674-1729. Mary Griffith (Mrs Robert Brewton, Mrs William Loughton) 1698-1761

Scots-Irish immigration begins, with most settling to western Pennsylvania.

New York enacts a fugitive slave law.

French found New Orleans.

The Tuscarora people are defeated in a war with North Carolina colonists. With many of their people killed they move north to live with other Iroquois nations in New York Colony.

Blackbeard, the pirate, is killed, putting an end to pirate raids along the southern colonial coast.

North Carolina’s first free school, endowed by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, opens at Bath. 1719 Artist: Henrietta Johnston 1674-1729. Subject: Judith DuBose (Mrs Joseph Wragg) 1698-1769.

The American Weekly Mercury is the first newspaper launched in Philadelphia by Andrew Bradford (1686-1742). It would publish six of Franklin's "Busy-Body Papers" in 1729 and continue publication until 1746.

The Boston Gazette is the second newspaper in Boston is launched by William Brooker (fl. 1715-1720) and printed by Benjamin Franklin's older half-brother, James Franklin (1697-1735). The paper would become the official organ of the government and continue until 1741.
1720 Attributed to Gerrit or Gerardus Duyckinck Subject: Portrait of a Lady

1720 Artist: Gerardus Duyckinck 1695-1746. Subject: Mrs Johannes van Braght b 1673. Her husband was an alderman for the City of New York.

Estimated population of colonies: 475,000. Including Boston (pop. 12,000), Philadelphia (pop. 10,000), and New York (pop. 7000).

A smallpox epidemic in Boston prompts Cotton Mather and Zabdiel Boylston to experiment with inoculation against the disease. Mather had learned of the practice from Onesimus, his slave, who had himself been inoculated as a child and knew inoculation to be a widely accepted medical practice in Africa.
1720-25 Attributed to Schuyler Limner (active ca. 1715–1725) Portrait of a Lady (possibly Tryntje Otten Veeder)

Benjamin Franklin leaves Boston for Philadelphia, a trip that he chronicles in his Autobiography.

South Carolina planters settle along the Lower Cape Fear River and begin developing the rice and naval stores industries. They bring large numbers of enslaved people and establish a large, plantation-style slave system.

Virginia abolishes manumissions.
1720-28 Artist: Gerardus Duyckinck 1695-1746 Subject: Grace Mears, Mrs Moses Levy

The French build forts on the Mississippi, the St. Lawrence, and the Niagara rivers.

French Louisiana prohibits slaves from marrying without the permission of their owners.

The population of male & female black slaves in the American colonies reaches 75,000.

Riots occur in Philadelphia as poor people tear down the pillories and stocks and burn them.
1725 Artist: Charles Bridges 1670-1747. Subject: Evelyn(1708-1737) daughter of William Byrd II and Lucy Parke.

Explanatory Charter of Massachusetts Bay; August 26

Zabdiel Boylston: An Historical Account of the Smallpox Inoculated in New England. Boylston details his experiments with smallpox inoculation in Boston, in which only 6 of his 244 patients die of the disease. This figure compared with the 844 out of 5,757 Bostonians who died of smallpox naturally during the same epidemic. One of the first of its kind written by an American physician.
1727 John Smibert 1688 - 1751. Eleanor Nightengale

George II becomes king of England

Benjamin Franklin founds the Junto Club.

Cadwallader Colden (1688-1776): History of the Five Nations. Colden's greatest achievement is this tribal history of the Iroquois Indians based on firsthand observation.

Elizabeth Hanson (1684-1737) writes God's Mercy Surmounting Man's Cruelty, a polished literary account of Hanson's 1724 capture by the French and Indians. (See Hanson's account on this blog.)

Jewish colonists in New York City build the first American synagogue.
1729 Artist: John Smibert 1688-1751. Subject: Mrs. Tyng.

Benjamin Franklin prints, publishes and largely writes the weekly Pennsylvania Gazette.

Yale Law School, The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy. New Haven, CT.
HISTORY MATTERS. American Social History Project / Center for Media and Learning (Graduate Center, CUNY) and the Center for History and New Media (George Mason University)

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Portrait of 18C American Women

1754 Joseph Blackburn fl 1752-1778 Elizabeth Pelham Mrs Peter Harrison Redwood Library

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Equality & Education for 18C American Girls & Slaves

Anthony Benezet (1713-1784) was a Quaker teacher, writer & strong believer in the equality of women & in the abolition of slavery. He was born to a Huguenot (Protestant) family in France. When he was 2 years old, they moved to London to avoid persecution &  then to the British American colonies, when he was 17.

He joined the Religious Society of Friends in Philadelphia & worked to convince other Quakers that slave-owning was against Christian teaching. In 1739, he started as a schoolteacher at Germantown then moved to a position at the Friends' English School of Philadelphia. In 1750, in addition to his daytime work, he set up an evening class for poor black boys & girls, which he ran from his own home.

In 1754, he left the Friends' English School to set up the first public girls' school in America. He also continued to teach African American children from home until 1770 when, with the support of the Society of Friends, he set up a school for them at Philadelphia.

From the 1750s, Benezet dedicated his life to fight for human rights & equality. He felt not supporting the equality of all people contradicted Christianity & lessened a person's humanity. He wrote: "To live in ease & plenty by the toil of those whom violence & cruelty have put in our power, is neither consistent with Christianity nor common justice..."

Although living in colonial British America, his influence on the England's equal rights movement was great. He campaigned for the Quaker Headquarters in London to strongly support human rights & equality, & he produced, at his own expense, a number of anti-slavery tracts & pamphlets. His pamphlet, 'Some Historical Account of Guinea', written in 1772, was read by John Wesley &  his appeals to the British legal system, to show that slavery was contrary to the founding laws of the empire, also influenced Granville Sharp. Both men corresponded with Benezet & distributed his works in England. He even wrote to Queen Charlotte in 1783, encouraging her to consider the plight of the enslaved & the "divine displeasure" that may occur to the nation that promotes such injustice.

Anthony Benezet died at Philadelphia on May 3, 1784. He left money to continue his teaching work with black boys & girls & to fight for equality & justice.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Scot John Harrower on arriving in America 1774

 John Harrower Leaves London for Virginia, 1774

John Harrower, a 40-year-old shopkeeper & tradesman, lived in the far north of the British Isles. Like many of the 40,000 residents of the Scottish Highlands who left after 1760, he found little opportunity there. Harrower made his way to London already swelled as thousands looked unsuccessfully for employment. After several weeks, Harrower signed an indenture to travel to Virginia as a schoolmaster. He sailed with 71 other male indentees, some from London, but many others from across England & Ireland. With his relatively privileged training, Harrower found a new life on a tidewater plantation. These excerpts from his journal tell of his time in London, journey across the Atlantic, his arrival in Virginia, & mentions the women there.
From John Harrower:

Munday 18th [January 1774] This day I got to London & was like a blind man without a guide, not knowing where to go being freindless & having no more money but fifteen shillings & eight pence farthing a small sum to enter London with; But I trust in the mercys of God who is a rich provider & am hopefull before it is done some way will cast up for me. I took up my lodging at the old Ship Tavern in Little Hermitage Street, Mr. George Newton being the landlord, but in Prison for debt at present.

Wednesday 19 Jay. 1774 This day I shifted my cloaths & put on a clean Ruffled Shirt, clean Britches & waistcoat & my Brown Coat. I not having any other cloaths on ever since I left Lerwick but my blew Jacket & Bigg Coat above it & a plain shirt. At 11 am I called to see Capt. Peery, but was told he would not be at home untill 5 pm. Having eat nothing for 24 houres, I dinned in my Lodging this day which cost me l/2 Str. After dinner I took a walk with the mate of a ship a Scotsman who carried me through Virginia Street, London Street, part of White Chappel Street, down to London Hospitall, through Ragg fair, the Minnories Round Tour hill, & the Tour, through Saint Catharins, & Bur street & so home.  At 5 pm called again at Capt. Perrys & the first face I saw was Willie Holcraw of Coningsburgh who I found staid here as a servant, & while I was speacking to him, Capt. Perry came home & he immediately knew me, & desired me to walk in which I did, & after sitting some time & drinking some tea, I called Capt. Perry aside & made my Intentions known to him, at same time begged his advice & assistance; He told me he hardly thought there would be any Business got for me in London. But told me to call on him at the Jamacia Coffee House to morrow at Change time. I then went home, & soon went to Bedd.

Thursday 20th Jay. 1774 This morning breackfast at home & paid 6d. for it. At noon called at the Jamacia Coffee House & soon after seed Capt. Perry & waited here & [at the?] Change untill 3 pm. but no appearance of any Business for me. The time I was in the Coffee house I drank 3ds. worth of punch, & I was obliged to make it serve me for Dinner. At night I hade l/2d. worth of bread & 1d. of Cheese & a poynt of Porter for supper it being all I cou’d afford.

Freiday 21st This morning I seed an advertisement for Bookeepers & Clerks to go to a Gentleman [at?] Philadelphia. I went as it directed to No. 1 in Catharine Court Princes street, but when I came there I was told they were served. I then waited again on Capt. Perry untill after 3 pm, But to no purpose. I this day offered to go steward of a ship bound to Maryland but could not get the birth. This day I was 3 or 4 miles through London & seed St. Pauls Church, the Bank of England where I seed the Gold lying in heaps, I also seed Summerst house, Gild hall, Drury Lane, Covingarden, Adelphus Buildings & severall other pleaces. I then returnd & near my Lodgings I dinned at an eating house & hade 4d. worth of roast Beiff 1d. worth of bread & a poynt of small beer, in all 5 1/2 d.

Saturday 22d. Jay. 1774 This morning I seed an advertiesment in the Publick Ledger for a Messenger to a publick Lodge, Sallery 15/Str. per week & another advertisement for an under Clerk to a Mercht. to both which I wrote answers & went to the places apointed, & found at each place more than a dozen of Letters before me, so that I hade litle expectation that way they being all weel acquanted & I a stranger. I then went to Change to see if any thing would cas[t] up but to no purpose, so I returned hom at 4 pm & spent the evening in a verry sollitary manner supping on bread & Cheese as usuall.

Sunday 23d. This morning I drank some purle for breackfast & then I took a walk in the forenoon through severall streets, & at 1 pm I returned to the eating house I hade formerly been at & dinned which cost me 6 1/2 today having hade 1d. worth of pudding more than I formerly hade. In the afternoon I went to a Methodists Meeting, the Text was in the V Chap: Mathew & the 20th Verse. After sermon I came home & being solitarry in my room I made the following Verses which I insert on the other side of this leaf.
Now at London in a garret room I am,
here frendless & forsaken;
But from the Lord my help will come,
Who trusts in him are not mistaken.
When freinds on earth do faint & faile,
And upon you their backs do turn;
O Truely seek the Lord, & he will
Them comfort that do murn.
I’ll unto God my prayer make,
to him my case make known;
And hopes he will for Jesus sake,
Provide for me & soon.

Munday 24th. This morning I wrote six tickets to give to shipmasters at Change seeking a stewards birth on board some ship, but could not get a birth. I also wrote a petition in generall to any Mercht. or Tradesman setting forth my present situation, & the way in which I hade been brought up & where I hade served & in what station, at same time offering to serve any for the bare suport of life fore some time. But all to no effect, for all pleaces here at present are intierly carried by freinds & Intrest, & many Hundreds are sterving for want of employment, & many good people are begging….

Wednesday 26th. This day I being reduced to the last shilling I hade was oblidged to engage to go to Virginia for four years as a schoolmaster for Bedd, Board, washing & five pound during the whole time. I have also wrote my wife this day a particular Accot. of every thing that has happned to me since I left her untill this date; At 3 pm this day I went on board the Snow Planter Capt. Bowers Comr. for Virginia now lying at Ratliff Cross, & imediatly as I came on board I reed, my Hammock & Bedding. At 4 pm came Alexr. Steuart on board the same Ship. He was Simbisters Servt. & hade only left Zetland about three weeks before me. We were a good deall surprised to meet with on[e] another in this place.

Thursday 27th Jay. 1774 This day ranie weather. The ships crew imployed in rigging the ship under the Direction of the mate & I was imployed in getting my Hammock slung. At 2 pm came on board Alexr. Burnet nephew to Mr. Frances Farquharson writter in Edinburgh & one Samuel Mitchell a Cooper from Yorkshire & both entred into the birth & Mace with Stewart & me.

Freiday 28th. This day the ships crew imployed as Yesterday.

Saturday 29th. This day came on board Alexr. Kennedy a young man from Edinburgh who hade been a Master Cooper there & a Glasgow Man by trade a Barber both which we took into our Mace, which compleated it being five Scotsmen & one Yorkshire man, & was always called the Scots Mace, & the Capt. told me he was from the Toun of Aberbothick in Scotland, but that he [had] note been there since he was fifteen years of age but hade been always in the Virginia trade which I was verry glade to hear. . .

Sunday 6th. At 7 am got under way with a fair wind & clear wr. [weather] & at 11 am came to an anchor off Gravesend & immediatly the Mercht. came on board & a Doctor & clerk with him & while the Clerk was fulling up the Indentures the doctor search’d every servt. to see that they were sound when two was turned ashore haveing the clap, & Seventy five were Intend to Capt. Bowres for four Years.

Munday 7th. Feby. 1774 This forenoon imployed in getting in provisions & water; at 4 pm put a servant ashore extreamly bade in a fiver, & then got under saile for Virginia with seventy Servants on board all indented to serve four years there at their differint Occoupations myself being one of the Number & Indented for a Clerk & Bookeeper, But when I aravied there I cou’d get no such birth as will appear in its place. At pm we came to an anchor at the Nore it blowing & snowing verry hard.

Tuesday 8th. At 5 am made saile from the Nore with the wind at W.N.W. Clear weather & blowing hard. At 2 pm got off a Pillot from Deall to take our River Pillot ashore for which Boat Capt. Bowers paid one & a half Guineas, & after buying some Gin here we stood streight to sea Under Close R. T. sails & our fore saile, a verry high sea running all this day.

Wednesday 9th. Wind at V.N.V. Steering V.B.S. in Company with the Price Freggate of Eighteen Guns bound to Jamacia. At noon caste out the Rd [reefs?] out of the Topsailes. . . .

Tuesday [May] 10th. [after the ship has arrived in Virginia] At 2 am wegh’d & stood up with the tide, came to an Anchor at 6 am & lay untill Do. 8 when we weigh’d with a fair wind & got to our Moorings at 6 pm at the Toun of Fredericksburgh.

Wednesday 11th. At 10 am Both Coopers & the Barber from our Mace went ashore upon tryall. At night one Daniel Turner a servt. returned on board from Liberty so drunk that he abused the Capt. Cheif Mate & Boatswan to a verry high degree, which made to be horse whipt. put in Irons & thumb screwed. An houre after he was unthumbscrewed, taken out of the Irons, but then he was hand cuffed, & gagged all night.

Thursday 12th May 1774, All hands quite on board this day. Turner ungagged But continoued in handcuffs.

Freiday 13th. This forenoon put ashore here what bale goods we hade remaining on board. In the afternoon Mr. Burnet, Stewart & myself went ashore on liberty to take a walk & see the Toun, who’s principall street is about half an English Mile long, the houses generally at a little distance one from another, some of them being built of wood & some of them of brick, & all covered with wood made in the form of slates about four Inches broad, which when painted blew you wou’d not know it from a house sclated with Isedell sclate. In this Toun the Church, the Counsell house, the Tolbooth the Gallows & the Pillary are all within 130 yds. of each other. The Market house is a large brick building a litle way from the Church. Here we drank some Bottles of beer of their own brewing & some bottles of Cyder for which we paid 3 1/2 per bottle of each. Returned on board in the evening. Turner still in handcuffs.

Saturday 14th. Nothing remarcable. Turner still in handcuffs.

Sunday 15th. All last night a great deall of thunder & Lightning. This day Mr. Anderson came to toun & came on bord, & spacke to severall of the servts. Turner still handcuff’d.

Munday 16th May 1774 This day severalls came on board to purchase servts. Indentures & among them there was two Soul drivers. They are men who make it their bussines to go on board all ships who have in either Servants or Convicts & buy sometimes the whole & sometimes a parcell of them as they can agree, & then they drive them through the Country like a parcell of Sheep untill they can sell them to advantage, but all went away without buying any.

Tuesday 17th. This day Mr. Anderson the Mercht. sent for me into the [cabin? ] & verry genteely told me that on my recomendations he would do his outmost to get me settled as a Clerk or bookeeper if not as a schoolmaster which last he told me he thought wou’d turn out more to my advantage upon being settled in a good famely. The ships crew & servants imployed in getting ashore all the cask out of the hould, no sales this day.

Wednesday 18th. This day the ships crew & servants imployed in getting out the ballast & unrigging the ship. One Cooper, one Blacksmith & one Shoemaker were settled with Masters this day.

Thursday 19th. One Farmer’s time sold & one Cabinet Maker on tryall.

Freiday 20th. This day we got the first four Hhds. of Tobacco on board; Turner still continous handcuffed.

Saturday 21st May 1774 This day one Mr. Cowly a Man twixt fifty & sixty years of age, a servt., also three sons of his their ages from Eight to fourteen were all settled with one McDonald a Scotsman.

Sunday 22d. All hands quiet on board.

Munday 23d. This morning a great number of Gentlemen & Ladies driving into Town it being an anuall Fair day & tomorrow the day of the Horse races. At 11 am Mr. Anderson begged [me] to settle as a schoolmaster with a freind of his one Colonel Daingerfield & told me he was to be in Town tomorrow, or perhaps to night, & how soon he came he shou’d aquant me. At same time all the rest of the servants were ordred ashore to a tent at Fredericksbg. & severall of their Indentures were then sold. About 4 pm I was brought to Colonel Daingerfield, when we imediatly agreed & my Indenture for four years was then delivered him & he was to send for me the next day. At same time ordred to get all my dirty Cloaths of every kind, washed at his expence in Toun; at night he sent me five shillings on board by Capt. Bowers to keep my pocket.

Tuesday 24th. May 1774 This morning I left the Ship at 6 am having been sixteen weeks & six days on board her. I hade for Breackfast after I came ashore one Chappin sweet milk for which I paid 3 1/2 Cury. At 11 am went to see a horse race about a mille from Toun, where there was a number of Genteel Company as well as others. Here I met with the Colonel again & after some talk with him he gave me cash to pay for washing all my Cloaths & Something over. The reace was gain’d by a Bay Mare, a white boy ridder. There was a gray Mare started with the Bay a black boy ridder but was far distant the last heat.

Wednesday 25th. I Lodged in a Tavern last night & paid 7 1/2 for my Bedd & 7 1/2 for my breackfast. This morning a verry heavy rain untill 11 am. Then I recd. my Linens &ca. all clean washed & packing every thing up I went on board the ship & Bought this Book for which I paid 18d. Str. I also bought a small Divinity book called the Christian Monitor & a spelling book, both at 7 1/2 & an Arithmetick at 1/6d. all for my own Accot.

Thursday 26th. This day at noon the Colonel sent a Black with a cuple of Horses for me & soon after I set out on Horseback & aravied at his seat of Belvidera about 3 pm & after I hade dined the Colonel took me to a neat little house at the upper end of an Avenue of planting at 500 yds. from the Main house, where I was to keep the school, & Lodge myself in it.
This pleace is verry pleasantly situated on the Banks of the River Rappahannock about seven Miles below the Toun of Fredericksburgh, & the school’s right above the Warff so that I can stand in the door & pitch a stone on board of any ship or Boat going up or coming doun the river.

Freiday 27th. This morning about 8 am the Colonel delivered his three sons to my Charge to teach them to read write & figure. His oldest son Edwin 10 years of age, intred into two syllables in the spelling book, Bathourest his second son 6 years of age in the Alphabete & William his third son 4 years of age does not know the letters. He has likeways a Daughter whose name is Hanna Basset __ Years of age. Soon after we were all sent for to breackfast to which we hade tea Bread, Butter & cold meat & there was at table the Colonel, his Lady, his Childreen, the housekeeper & myself. At 11 am the Colonel & his Lady went some where to pay a visite, he upon horseback & she in her Charriot. At 2 pm I dined with the Housekeeper the Childreen & a Stranger Lady. At 6 pm I left school, & then I eat plenty of fine straw berries, but they neither drink Tea in the afternoon nor eat any supper here for the most part. My school Houres is from 6 to 8 in the Morning, in the forenoon from 9 to 12 & from 3 to 6 in the afternoon.

Source: John Harrower, The Journal of John Harrower, An Indentured Servant in the Colony of Virginia, 1773–1776 (New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1963), 14–19, 38–42.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

1737 A broken-hearted, vindictive, & humiliated John Wesley 1703-1791 flees colonial Georgia

On February 28, 1784, an elderly John Wesley (1703–1791) officially chartered the 1st Methodist Church in the United States. Despite the fact that he was an ardent Tory & still an Anglican, Wesley saw the need to provide church structure for his followers, after the Anglican Church abandoned its American believers during the American Revolution. (See note below)
Young John Wesley (1703–1791) Preaching by British artist John Russell 1745-1806

A 32-year-old John Wesley 1st brought his evangelical brand of methodical Anglicanism to James Oglethorpe's (1696-1785) colonial Georgia from 1735 to 1737 with his brother, Charles Wesley (1707–1788). Charles & John traveled to Georgia with Oglethorpe on his 2nd voyage to the colony. John Wesley's 1st venture onto American soil was not a great success. Young John Wesley became embroiled a failed love affair & was unable to win adherents to his religious practices. 

Searching for his own religious experience John Wesley found a complicated romantic experience instead.  He fell in love with Sophia Hopkey, the niece of Savannah's chief magistrate Thomas Causton.  Wesley met Miss Hopkey on the 4-month-long sail to Georgia. While traveling on the ship, Sophia’s mother employed Wesley to teach her daughter French. After arriving in Savannah, their passion grew. Sophia was confident, that Wesley’s intentions were honorable & would lead to matrimony. 

However, upon arriving in Georgia, Wesley also became acquainted with the German Moravians, who hoped to establish a settlement in the colony. (The alliance later led Wesley to a London Moravian gathering, where Wesley felt he finally personally experienced God’s grace, which he described as an "infilling of the Holy Spirit.") And so, Wesley sought the advice of Moravian Bishop Spangenberg & who advised the young lover to avoid contact with female admirers. Wesley took his mentor's admonishment & without any explanation to Sophia, he abruptly stopped seeing her.  She soon met someone else.  This caused Wesley great pain, & he lashed out at her, publicly rebuking her for various sins.

On March 12, 1737, Sophia Hopkey married William Williamson, a clerk in her uncle’s Thomas Causton's store. The couple ran away to South Carolina & were married in Spurysburg, which was 22 miles up river away from the admonishments of John Wesley. Her new husband took Wesley to court for his attacks on his new bride. Local gossips shredded the reputation of John Wesley. Many believed that Wesley had secured a promise from Sophia Hopkey Williamson to never marry another, but that he had not asked for her hand in marriage. After her marriage, Wesley seemed to be inconsolable & vindictive.  

Wesley acerbated the situation on August 7, 1737, when he refused to give Sophia Hopkey Williamson the sacrament of holy communion in the church. The following day, a warrant was issued against Wesley by Williamson & his bride, Sophia. The complaint was for defaming Sophia by refusing to administer to her the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, in a public congregation without due cause. Williamson sued for 1,000 pounds of sterling in damages for the public defamation of his wife’s character. Wesley was brought before the bailiff & the recorder, but he refused to acknowledge the power of the civil courts over him, because he claimed his actions were an ecclesiastical matter. Nonetheless, he was requested to appear before the next court held in Savannah.

Causton was the local political boss & chief magistrate for Savannah. Being the 1st magistrate of Savannah, he prospered in his position jeopardizing Ogelthorpe’s long-distance authority as governor.  Ogelthorpe had appointed Wesley as his private secretary (and spy) who would report to him of any misdoings in the colony. John Wesley remained loyal to London's Oglethorpe instead of the local Causton.

However, Causton did prove corrupt in his dealings with the Moravians. The Moravians provided work in Savannah in trade for their supplies. Causton applied the credit for their work to his personal plantation & did not credit their account with the Savannah Trustees. Wesley  reported the misappropriation of credit to the wrong account to Ogelthorpe. Wesley & the Moravians were friends & he did not want them to be forced to leave the colony. Causton declared that the Moravians would not bear arms to fight against the Spanish & that gave him the right to do what he did.  The evidence against Causton was unmistakable in proving his misuse of  the colony’s money. He was removed from the office of chief magistrate. Causton was convinced that Wesley was the instigator of his troubles. 

Causton began to declare, that the reason Wesley had repelled his niece was out of revenge, because she had declined his proposal of marriage. Sophia Hopkey Williamson signed an affidavit that Wesley had proposed numerous times & that she had always refused him. Causton demanded a duel. Wesley refused to fight Causton & instead wrote a letter to Sophia Hopkey Williamson explaining his actions.

In his defensive letter, Wesley noted that those intending to take Holy Communion needed to inform the Curate at least the day before. Sophia Hopkey Williamson had not done this. Also Wesley advised her that in order to partake at the Lord’s table when one has done wrong, one must openly repent. Wesley also noted that since her marriage in March, she had not attended church & his refusal to let her take communion took place months later in August.  The letter was not enough for the Williamsons or for Causton.

On August 22, 1737, the trial of John Wesley began before a jury secured by Causton. The trial ended with a mistrial. Twelve of the jurors refused to sign the bill of indictment, their reasons were that the counts were false or conflicting with the law. Wesley appeared in court several days in September, but Mr. Williamson was out of town.
1789  John Wesley (1703–1791),  by British artist George Romney 1734-1802

Wesley never was able to establish good relations with the people of Savannah who reflected the diversity of Georgia’s early settlers including Anglicans, Dissenters, Highland Scots, French Hugenots, Spanish (Italian) Jews & French Swiss. In addition to his duties as a minister at Savannah, John had hoped to perform missionary work among the Creek & Cherokee of the region. He never was an effective missionary & wrote in his journal, “I came to convert the Indians, but, oh, who will convert me?”

On November 3, 1737, Wesley appeared in court again to defend his vindictive administrative assault on his former love. On November 24, Wesley publicly advertised his intentions of returning to England. Two days later Williamson published a warning, that he had a cause of 1,000 pounds against Wesley. The warning stated if anyone tried to assist the departure of Wesley, he would prosecute them as well.  Convinced that he would not receive a fair trial, John left the colony of Georgia on December 2, 1737, noting in his journal, “about eight o’clock, the tide then serving, I shook off the dust of my feet and left Georgia, after having preached the gospel there (not as I ought, but as I was able).” 

Note:   Organized Methodism in America actually grew as a lay movement. Early non-clergy leaders included Robert Strawbridge, a farmer c 1760 in Maryland & Virginia; Philip Embury & his cousin, Barbara Heck, in New York in 1766: plus Captain Thomas Webb, in Philadelphia in 1767. To strengthen the Methodist work in the colonies, John Wesley sent 2 of his lay preachers, Richard Boardman & Joseph Pilmore, to America in 1769.
See John Wesley and Savannah by Kathy W. Ross and Rosemary Stacy here   

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Wife Selling in 17C-19C Britain & her American colonies

Sale of a Wife in Smithfield Market
Now is your time gemmen; here's my Fat Heifer and ten pounds worth of bad Halfpence, all for half a Guinea, why her Hide's worth more to a Tanner; I'll warrant She's Beef to the Heels, and tho' her Horns ben't Wisible, yet he that buys her will soon feel their Sharpness.--there han't been such a Beast in the Market for Years--Zounds says the Fool in Blue Apron, I think I'll take her of thee, She and the Halfpence, must be worth the Money, I have had two Wives, and wou'd have Sold 'em for half that Sum.
Published 25th July 1797 by Laurie & Whittle, 53 Fleet Street, London

Wife selling in England was a method of ending an unhappy marriage (probably by mutual agreement) which seemed to gain popularity in the late 17C, when divorce was a practical impossibility for all but the very rich. After performing the ritual of leading his wife with a rope halter around her neck, arm, or waist, a husband would publicly auction her to the highest bidder. 

It is reported that there is an account in England from 1302 of a husband who "granted his wife by deed to another man." With the general rise in the ability to read & the increasing availability of newspapers, written reports of the practice become more frequent in the 2nd half of the 18C. 

The 1832 Gentleman's Magazine reported several occasions of wife selling in the 17C.  In November 1692 "John, ye son of Nathan Whitehouse, of Tipton, sold his wife to Mr. Bracegirdle," although the manner of the sale is unrecorded. In 1696, Thomas Heath Maultster was fined for "cohabiteing in an unlawful manner with the wife of George ffuller of Chinner ... haueing bought her of her husband at 2d.q. the pound"

Until the Marriage Act of 1753, a formal ceremony of marriage before a clergyman was not a legal requirement in England, & marriages were unregistered except those performed in parish churches & noted in church registers. All that was required was for both parties to agree to the union, so long as each had reached the legal age of consent, which was 12 for girls & 14 for boys. 

Women were completely subordinated to their husbands after marriage, the husband & wife becoming one legal entity, a legal status known as coverture. As jurist William Blackstone wrote in 1753: "the very being, or legal existence of the woman, is suspended during the marriage, or at least is consolidated & incorporated into that of her husband: under whose wing, protection & cover, she performs everything." Married women could not own property in their own right, & were indeed themselves the property of their husbands. But Blackstone went on to observe that "even the disabilities the wife lies under are, for the most part, intended for her protection & benefit. So great a favourite is the female sex of the laws of England." (Poor, unintelligent women needed "protection.")

Along with other English customs, settlers arriving in the British American colonies during the late 17C & early 18C carried with them the practice of wife selling, & the belief in its legitimacy as a way of ending a marriage. 

The Boston Evening-Post reported on 15 March 1736 an argument between two men "& a certain woman, each one claiming her as his Wife, but so it was that one of them had actually disposed of his Right in her to the other for Fifteen Shillings." The purchaser had, apparently, refused to pay in full, & had attempted to return "his" wife. He was given the outstanding sum by 2 generous bystanders, & paid the husband—who promptly "gave the Woman a modest Salute wishing her well, & his Brother Sterling much Joy of his Bargain." 

In 1645 "The P'ticular Court" of Hartford, Connecticut, reported the case of Baggett Egleston, who was fined 20 shillings for "bequething his wyfe to a young man." 

After the Revolution, American independence brought women several paths to freedom from husbands who were abusive, neglectful, or adulterous. In the pre-Revolution British American colonial society, divorce was nearly impossible under English precedent, but all of the newly independent "states" recognized the need to legally end unhappy marriages. The choice of appropriate remedies varied considerably. 

Some of the new American states, particularly in the South, only allowed separate residence with alimony (called divorce from bed & board). Other states granted absolute divorce with the right of the innocent party to remarry. In matters of divorce, local social, & religious values affected the laws in different parts of the newly united country. 

The conservatism of divorce laws in the southern states was probably related to the practice of chattel slavery in a variety of ways. Married women were seen by some as the chattel of their husbands. Southern lawmakers also seemed reluctant to grant women absolute divorces, because of the frequent occurrence of slave-owning husbands having sexual relationships with their slaves. 

The more liberal New England divorce laws, in contrast, stemmed from a longstanding Puritan belief, that it was better for unhappy couples to separate & remarry than to be joined forever in a state of discord & temptation to sin.

An account in 1781 of a William Collings of South Carolina records a "Bill of Sale" of a "Wife and Property" for "Two Dollars and half Dozen Bowls of Grogg," the buyer "to have my said Wife for ever and a Day." According to Richard B. Morris, "although the administration of the law was in a somewhat unsettled state during this ["British"] military occupation [of Charleston], neither at common law nor under the marriage laws then in force in South Carolina would the sale of a wife have been valid." The document likely was a way, wrote Morris, for "dissolving the marriage bond" since the state forbade divorce "and the marriage laws of the Church of England were widely disregarded among the poorer whites and in the back country," but it could also have been intended to reduce the husband's liability for debts for support of the wife and her children and for her pre-marriage debts.

In mother England, at least 5 methods of breaking up a marriage existed before & after the American Revolution. One was to sue in the ecclesiastical courts for separation from bed & board (a mensa et thoro), on the grounds of adultery or life-threatening cruelty, but it did not allow a remarriage. 

From the 1550s, until the Matrimonial Causes Act became law in 1857, divorce in England was only possible, if at all, by the complex & costly procedure of a private Act of Parliament. Although the divorce courts set up in the wake of the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act made the procedure considerably cheaper, divorce remained prohibitively expensive for the poorer members of society. An alternative was to obtain a "private separation," an agreement negotiated between both spouses, embodied in a deed of separation drawn up by a conveyancer. 

In England, desertion or elopement was also possible, whereby the wife was forced out of the family home, or the husband simply set up a new home with his mistress. This tactic was also used in the British American colonies, especially before the Revolution. 

Finally, the notion of wife selling was an alternative method of ending a marriage. The Laws Respecting Women, As They Regard Their Natural Rights (1777) observed that, for the poor, wife selling was viewed as a "method of dissolving marriage," when "a husband & wife find themselves heartily tired of each other, & agree to part, if the man has a mind to authenticate the intended separation by making it a matter of public notoriety."

In the following excerpt, originally published in 1808, Charles Fourier argues that French & English women of the period were treated little better than slaves & that social progress in both countries depended on granting women greater freedoms & rights. "Is there a shadow of justice to be seen in the fate that has befallen women? Is not a young woman a mere piece of merchandise displayed for sale to the highest bidder as exclusive property? Is not the consent she gives to the conjugal bond derisory & forced on her by the tyranny of the prejudices that obsess her from childhood on? People try to persuade her that her chains are woven only of flowers; but can she really have any doubt about her degradation, even in those regions that are bloated by philosophy such as England, where a man has the right to take his wife to market with a rope around her neck, and sell her like a beast of burden to anyone who will pay his asking price?"  (Charles Fourier. "Degradation of Women in Civilization." Theorie des Quatre Mouvements et des Destinees Generales, pp. 131-33. Paris, France: n.p., 1841-48.)

Although the wife selling custom had no basis in law & sometimes resulted in prosecution, particularly from the mid-19C onwards, the attitude of English authorities was equivocal. At least one early 19C magistrate is on record as stating that he did not believe he had the right to prevent wife sales, & there were cases of local Poor Law Commissioners forcing husbands to sell their wives, rather than having to maintain the family in workhouses.

Wife selling persisted in England in some form until the early 20C; according to the jurist & historian James Bryce, writing in 1901, wife sales were still occasionally taking place during his time. In one of the last reported instances of a wife sale in England, a woman giving evidence in a Leeds police court in 1913 claimed that she had been sold to one of her husband's workmates for £1.

Another form of wife selling in England was by deed of conveyance. The practice became more widespread after the 1850s, as popular opinion generally turned against the market sale of a wife. The issue of the commonly perceived legitimacy of wife selling was also brought to the government. In 1881, Home Secretary William Harcourt was asked to comment on an incident in Sheffield, in which a man sold his wife for a quart of beer. Harcourt replied: "no impression exists anywhere in England that the selling of wives is legitimate" & "that no such practice as wife selling exists."  But just 8 years later in 1889, a member of the Salvation Army was recorded selling his wife for a shilling in Hucknall Torkard, Nottinghamshire, & subsequently leading her by the halter to her buyer's house. 

Selling a Wife (1812–14), by English artist Thomas Rowlandson

A Few Public Notices

November, 1692. "John, ye son of Nathan WHITEHOUSE, of Tipton, sold his wife to Mr. Bracegirdle."

1720 from Lloyd's Magazine, "We were lately witnesses of a case of wife-selling in an old town in South Staffordshire. It appeared that the husband had set his affections on another woman, and his wife hearing of it, had very justly showed their displeasure in a variety of ways; whereupon the husband, who was a collier, took her to the marketplace, and sold her to the highest bidder for five shillings. There was much excitement in the crowd which assembled to witness the act, and the affair ended with a good deal of drinking at the expense of the husband and the purchaser."

"Annual Register," August 3lst, 1733 "Three men and three women went to the Bell Inn, Edgbaston Street, Birmingham, and made the following entry in the Toll Book which is kept there: Samuel WHITEHOUSE, of the parish of Willenhall, in the County of Stafford, sold his wife, Mary WHITEHOUSE, in open market, to Thomas GRIFFITHS, of Birmingham. Value, one guinea. To take her with all her faults. (Signed) Samuel WHITEHOUSE / Mary WHITEHOUSE. Voucher: T. BUCKLEY."

Court record Bill of Sale of Oct. 24, 1766 "It is this day agreed on between John Parsons, of the parish of Midsummer Norton, in the county of Somerset, clothworker, & John Tooker, of the same place, gentleman, that the said John Parsons, for & in consideration of the sum of six pounds & six shillings in hand paid to the said John Parsons, doth sell, assign, & set over unto the said John Tooker, Ann Parsons, wife of the said John Parsons; with all right, property, claim, services, & demands whatsoever, that he, the said John Parsons, shall have in or to the said Ann Parsons, for & during the term of the natural life of her, the said Ann Parsons. In witness whereof I, the said John Parsons, have set my hand the day & year first above written. JOHN PARSONS.'Witness: WILLIAM CHIVERS."

World, June 21, 1788, "Not many days since a man publicly sold his wife for 12 shillings. In the payment he had insisted in having new shillings as he had never had had anything but what was bad in exchange for her and therefore must take more care."

Morning Post and Daily Advertiser, September 4, 1789 "On Thursday last at Yarlington fair, in this county, Ann Atwell wife of William Atwell was sold for five shillings to Thomas Wadman. The woman was delivered, as is customary with a large cord. He had promised her good keeping and six pence was paid in earnest."

World, September 22, 1789 "A man of the name John Petts lately sold his wife and three children for two shillings and six pence. He shewed her by leading her up and down the road in a halter in which she was delivered up to her new purchaser. She was thought to be no bargain."

Aris's Birmingham Gazette March lst, 1790 "As instances of the sales of wives have of late frequently occurred among the lower classes of people who consider such sale lawful, we think it right to inform them that, by a determination of the courts of law' in a former reign, they were declared illegal and void, and considered (a light in which religion must view them) as mere pretence to sanction the crime of adultery."

World, November 12, 1790 "A man at Nimfield stocks in Sussex last week sold his wife to another man of the same place for half a pint of gin; the purchaser being in liquor at the time the bargain was concluded, the seller in order that he should not complain of any unfair advantage having been taken of him took his dear spouse to bed and board until the next morning when the buyer attended and claimed his lady who was delivered by the husband in due form, having a halter round her neck, and two witnesses being present.  The woman appeared overjoyed at the change, nor did the man seem less happy at their lots."

Oracle and Public Advertiser, March 31, 1796 "On Saturday evening last John Lees, steel burner, sold his wife for the sum of 6 shillings to Samuel Hall, fellmonger, both of Sheffield. Lees gave Hall one guinea immediately to have her taken off to Manchester the day following by coach. She was delivered up with a halter round her neck and the clerk of the market received 4 pence for the toll."

Oracle and Public Advertiser, July 18, 1797 "Smithfield Market. Another anti-matrimonial bargain has taken place in this mart of living stock. But whatever may be the cause, the fact is that the price of ladies has risen here; a man sold his wife yesterday for three guineas and a half."

The Times July 1797 "On Friday a butcher exposed his wife to Sale in Smithfield Market, near the Ram Inn, with a halter about her neck, & one about her waist, which tied her to a railing, when a hog-driver was the happy purchaser, who gave the husband three guineas & a crown for his departed rib. Pity it is, there is no stop put to such depraved conduct in the lower order of people." 

Oracle and Public Advertiser, September 23, 1797 "The price of wives is no longer regulated by what the article brings to Smithfield. It has advanced considerably more than it was some months ago; for last week a wife sold for twenty five pounds at Towcester."

A Little Historiography
In her 2013 artlcle "The Moral and Legal Consequences of Wife Selling in The Mayor of Casterbridge" Julie C. Suk explores the tradition of wife selling in England at Oxford Scholarship Online. Her article appeared in Subversion and Sympathy: Gender, Law, and the British Novel, by Martha C. Nussbaum and Alison L. LaCroix.

Suk explains that there are 3 significant scholarly examinations of wife selling in 18C & 19C England: 1 by anthropologist, Samuel Pyeatt Menefee, & 2 by social historians, E. P. Thompson & Lawrence Stone. All these accounts have interpreted wife selling as a practice by which poor people got divorced, because the social & legal universe in these couples which lived lacked access to formal divorce. 

According to Menefee, most wife sales were usually planned in advance, involved 3 parties who already knew one another, & was welcomed by all the parties involved.  The typical wife sale of this period was one in which the husband would publicly sell his wife to a man with whom she was already having romantic relations.

Thompson interprets the sale of wives in 19C England as a ritual practiced by poor men & women who sought to improve their personal circumstances. Thompson identifies several features that were common to the  wife sales that occurred during this period:

First, the sale took place in an acknowledged marketplace. It was public; there was an audience. 

Second, the sale was usually planned, rather than spontaneous. It was sometimes announced publicly beforehand, either orally or through a public written notice. 

Third, it was often the case that the wife was brought to the marketplace with a halter around her neck. The halter enabled a physical transfer of the wife from the husband to the purchaser. 

Fourth, in the market, there usually was an auctioneer. Sometimes, the husband would act as auctioneer, but often, a 3rd party would do so. 

Fifth, there was an exchange of money. The purchaser often agreed not only to pay the price of the wife but also to buy a drink & the price of the halter. The husband would frequently return some small portion of the money as “luck money” to the purchaser. 

And finally, the actual moment of transfer was usually solemnized by an exchange of vows that resembled a marriage ceremony. The wife would then return her original wedding ring to her husband-seller.  

These common components tended to make the wife sale a ritual in rural working-class life, one that involved active & consensual participation by the husband-seller, the wife being sold, & the new-husband-purchaser. This ritual allowed the participants to perform a public divorce & new marriage during an era when legal institutions did not provide a method.

Stone noted that the wife sale in 18C & 19C England enabled poor married people to formalize amicable separations usually by mutual consent. Some parties saw the wife sale as a method of obliterating the legal & financial obligations of traditional marriage in the eyes of the community. As husbands were responsible for their wives’ debts during this period, the wife sale was a public expression of the man's intention not to be liable for the future debts incurred by the wife. In addition, the wife sale gave the woman some assurance, that the former husband would not raid her new home & seize all her goods & earnings, which by law would be his, if they were still married. In addition, the public separation enabled by the sale might deter the former husband from suing the new husband for criminal conversation, a civil cause of action available in England to a husband to recover damages from his wife's adulterous lover. Through the public sale, the 1st husband extracted a bribe from the wife's lover in return for waiving his civil cause of action for criminal conversation.

Samuel Pyeatt Menefee, Wives for Sale: An Ethnographic Study of British Popular Divorce 5 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1981).

Lawrence Stone, Road to Divorce: England 1530–1987 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 

Lawrence Stone, Uncertain Unions: Marriages in England 1660–1753 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1992)

E. P. Thompson, Customs in Common (New York: New Press, 1993)

Additional Bibliography
Ashton, John (1899), Social England Under the Regency, Chatto and Windus

Ashton, John (1888), Modern Street Ballads, Chatto & Windus

Bryce, James (1901), Studies in history and jurisprudence, Volume II, Oxford University Press

Burn, John (2009) [1869], Burn's Justice of the Peace and Parish Officer: (V. 5a, 1869), Cornell University Library

Caine, Barbara; Sluga, Glenda (2002), Gendering European history: 1780–1920, Continuum

Chambers, Robert (1864), The Book of Days: A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities 1, W. & R. Chambers

Clark, Anna (1997), The Struggle for the Breeches: Gender and the Making of the British Working Class, University of California Press

Collins, Sophie (2007), A Sussex Miscellany, Snake River Press

Finlay, Henry Alan (2005), To have but not to hold (illustrated ed.), Federation Press

Gibson, Colin (1993), Dissolving Wedlock, Routledge

Gibson, James (1996), Thomas Hardy: A Literary Life, Palgrave Macmillan

Godbeer, Richard (2002), Sexual Revolution in Early America: Gender Relations in the American Experience, The Johns Hopkins University Press

Griffiths, John (1995), "Book review: E. P. Thompson: Customs in common", Journal of Legal Pluralism 

Hill, Bridget (1994), Women, Work & Sexual Politics in Eighteenth-century England

Jacob, W. M. (2002), Lay People and Religion in the Early Eighteenth Century, Cambridge University Press

Mansell, Wade; Meteyard, Belinda (2004), A Critical Introduction to Law (Third ed.), Routledge Cavendish

Pateman, Carole (1988), The Sexual Contract, Stanford University Press

Pobjoy, Harold Norman (1970), The History Of Emley – A West Riding Village, Ridings Publishing Company

Reach, Angus B. (1846), Douglas William Jerrold, ed., "The England of the French drama," Douglas Jerrold's shilling magazine (The Punch Office

Sokol, B. J.; Sokol, Mary (2003), Shakespeare, Law, and Marriage, Cambridge University Press

Woodbury, George (1951), The Great Days of Piracy, W. W. Norton & Company 

Saturday, May 9, 2020

1760 American Mother & Child

1760 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Mrs Isaac Winslow and Hannah.

Friday, May 8, 2020

1747 Ben Franklin - Why should unmarried pregnant women be fined & whipped, while their impregnators go free?

"The Speech of Polly Baker" was 1st published in the April 1747 issue of The Gentleman's Magazine.

Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Wilson, 1759

The speech of Polly Baker, before a Court of Judicature, at Connecticut & Boston in New England; where she was prosecuted the Fifth Time, for having a Bastard Child: Which influenced the Court to dispense with her Punishment, and induced one of her Judges to marry her the next day. 

May it please the Honourable Bench to indulge me a few Words: I am a poor unhappy Woman; who have no Money to Fee Lawyers to plead for me, being hard put to it to get a tolerable Living. I shall not trouble your Honours with long Speeches; for I have not the presumption to expect, that you may, by any Means, be prevailed on to deviate in your Sentence from the Law, in my Favour. All I humbly hope is, that your Honours would charitably move the Governor’s Goodness on my Behalf, that my Fine may be remitted. 

This is the Fifth Time, Gentlemen, that I have been dragg’d before your Courts on the same Account; twice I have paid heavy Fines, and twice have been brought to public Punishment, for want of Money to pay those Fines. This may have been agreeable to the Laws; I do not dispute it: But since Laws are sometimes unreasonable in themselves, and therefore repealed; and others bear too hard on the Subject in particular Circumstances; and therefore there is left a Power somewhere to dispense with the Execution of them; I take the Liberty to say, that I think this Law, by which I am punished, is both unreasonable in itself, and particularly severe with regard to me, who have always lived an inoffensive Life in the Neighbourhood where I was born, and defy my Enemies (if I have any) to say I ever wrong’d Man, Woman, or Child. 

Abstracted from the Law, I cannot conceive (may it please your Honours) what the Nature of my Offence is. I have brought Five fine Children into the World, at the Risque of my Life: I have maintained them well by my own Industry, without burthening the Township, and could have done it better, if it had not been for the heavy Charges and Fines I have paid. 

Can it be a Crime (in the Nature of Things I mean) to add to the Number of the King’s Subjects, in a new Country that really wants People? I own I should think it rather a Praise worthy, than a Punishable Action. I have debauch’d no other Woman’s Husband, nor inticed any innocent Youth: These Things I never was charged with; nor has any one the least cause of Complaint against me, unless, perhaps the Minister, or the Justice, because I have had Children without being Married, by which they have miss’d a Wedding Fee. 

But, can even this be a Fault of mine? I appeal to your Honours. You are pleased to allow I don’t want Sense; but I must be stupid to the last Degree, not to prefer the honourable State of Wedlock, to the Condition I have lived in. I always was, and still am, willing to enter into it; I doubt not my Behaving well in it, having all the Industry, Frugality, Fertility, and Skill in Oeconomy, appertaining to a good Wife’s Character. I defy any Person to say I ever Refused an Offer of that Sort: On the contrary, I readily Consented to the only Proposal of Marriage that ever was made me, which was when I was a Virgin; but too easily confiding in the Person’s Sincerity that made it, I unhappily lost my own Honour, by trusting to his; for he got me with Child, and then forsook me: That very Person you all know; he is now become a Magistrate of this County; and I had hopes he would have appeared this Day on the Bench, and have endeavoured to moderate the Court in my Favour; then I should have scorn’d to have mention’d it; but I must Complain of it as unjust and unequal, that my Betrayer and Undoer, the first Cause of all my Faults and Miscarriages (if they must be deemed such) should be advanced to Honour and Power, in the same Government that punishes my Misfortunes with Stripes and Infamy. 

I shall be told, ’tis like, that were there no Act of Assembly in the Case, the Precepts of Religion are violated by my Transgressions. If mine, then, is a religious Offence, leave it, Gentlemen, to religious Punishments. You have already excluded me from all the Comforts of your Church Communion: Is not that sufficient? You believe I have offended Heaven, and must suffer eternal Fire: Will not that be sufficient? What need is there, then, of your additional Fines and Whippings? I own, I do not think as you do; for, if I thought, what you call a Sin, was really such, I would not presumptuously commit it. 

But how can it be believed, that Heaven is angry at my having Children, when, to the little done by me towards it, God has been pleased to add his divine Skill and admirable Workmanship in the Formation of their Bodies, and crown’d it by furnishing them with rational and immortal Souls? 

Forgive me Gentlemen, if I talk a little extravagantly on these Matters; I am no Divine: But if you, great Men, must be making Laws, do not turn natural and useful Actions into Crimes, by your Prohibitions. Reflect a little on the horrid Consequences of this Law in particular: What Numbers of procur’d Abortions! and how many distress’d Mothers have been driven, by the Terror of Punishment and public Shame, to imbrue, contrary to Nature, their own trembling Hands in the Blood of their helpless Offspring! Nature would have induc’d them to nurse it up with a Parent’s Fondness. 

’Tis the Law therefore, ’tis the Law itself that is guilty of all these Barbarities and Murders. Repeal it then, Gentlemen; let it be expung’d for ever from your Books: And on the other hand, take into your wise Consideration, the great and growing Number of Batchelors in the Country, many of whom, from the mean Fear of the Expence of a Family, have never sincerely and honourably Courted a Woman in their Lives; and by their Manner of Living, leave unproduced (which I think is little better than Murder) Hundreds of their Posterity to the Thousandth Generation. 

Is not theirs a greater Offence against the Public Good, than mine? Compel them then, by a Law, either to Marry, or pay double the Fine of Fornication every Year. What must poor young Women do, whom Custom has forbid to sollicit the Men, and who cannot force themselves upon Husbands, when the Laws take no Care to provide them any, and yet severely punish if they do their Duty without them? 

Yes, Gentlemen, I venture to call it a Duty; ’tis the Duty of the first and great Command of Nature, and of Nature’s God, Increase and multiply: A Duty, from the steady Performance of which nothing has ever been able to deter me; but for it’s Sake, I have hazarded the Loss of the public Esteem, and frequently incurr’d public Disgrace and Punishment; and therefore ought, in my humble Opinion, instead of a Whipping, to have a Statue erected to my Memory. 

On the surface, "The Speech of Polly Baker" appears to be a light-hearted & "amusing story."  However, Franklin presents a protest against legislation that punished women for out-of-wedlock sexual relations by imposing fines & whippings, while the father of the child went without punishment. Through the use of rhetorical questions to the magistrates, Franklin shows the inequity of the prevailing justice system.  It is generally accepted, that Max Hall, author of Benjamin Franklin and Polly Baker: The History of a Literary Deception (1960) proved that Franklin wrote the piece.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

New England - Slavery of African Males & Females in Connecticut

Connecticut  Mr. Hooker & his people travelling through the wilderness. 1636

Slaves were mentioned in Hartford from 1639 & in New Haven from 1644. As in the rest of New England, they were few until about 1700. Connecticut citizens did not participate directly in the African American slave trade in the late 17C (at least that's what the colonial governor assured the British Committee for Trade & Foreign Plantations). But the governor's report in 1680 implied that Massachusetts merchants were bringing in 3 or 4 black slaves a year from Barbados.

Even in the early 1700s, direct slave imports to Connecticut were considered too few to be worth the trouble of taxing. The governor reported only 110 white & black servants in Connecticut in 1709. In 1730, the colony had a black population of 700, out of a total enumeration of 38,000.  Actually, from the beginning of the African slave trade in the Western Hemisphere, Europe's "New World," in the 16C to its conclusion in the 19C, slave merchants brought the vast majority of enslaved Africans to the Caribbean & Brazil. Of the more than 10 million enslaved Africans to eventually reach the Western Hemisphere, just 388,747—less than 4 percent of the total—came to North America. This was dwarfed by the 1.3 million brought to Spanish Central America, the 4 million brought to British, French, Dutch, & Danish holdings in the Caribbean, & the 4.8 million brought to Brazil.

However, in 1718, a wealthy Salem, Mass., merchant, Col. Samuel Browne, began amassing so much land in what was then Lyme, that the area soon was reorganized as New Salem Parish. He rented out large tracts, but retained about 4,000 acres for himself that passed to his son & then his grandson. It was an investment that at some point became a bona-fide plantation. The Brownes, who never lived there, hired overseers to run it &, according to one old authoritative account, may have imported 60 slave families to clear the land. Generous donors to Harvard College, the Brownes reputedly were the richest family in a town that rivaled Boston in wealth. It may be no coincidence then that Salem, Mass., also is where New England's slave trade may have started. In 1638, the Salem ship Desire sailed to the West Indies loaded with captured Pequot Indians. It sold them as slaves and returned with a "cargo of salt, cotton, tobacco and Negros."

The Brownes were not without company in Connecticut. There was a plantation, or very large farm of 3,000 acres, in Pomfret with 24 slaves. Its owner, Godfrey Malbone, the son of a Newport, R.I., merchant who trafficked in slaves, was once thought to be the largest slave owner in Connecticut history. The evidence comes from the deed by which the elder Malbone transferred ownership of the Pomfret estate to Godfrey & his brother in 1764.  The inventory of living creatures listed 80 cows, 45 oxen, 30 steers, 59 young cattle, six horses, 600 sheep, 180 goats, 150 hogs, & 27 Negroes, in that order. The document did identify most of the slaves by the names their owners gave them. "Prince, Harry, Pero, Dick, Tom, Adam and Christopher, all Negro men, and Dinah, Venus, Rose, Miriam, Jenny and [a second] Rose, all Negro women..." Their children were "Primus, Christopher, Sias, Sharper and Little Pero."

Orders Browne wrote in 1727 to the captain of one of his ships are proof of his interest in the West Indies trade. "You may touch at Barbados, St. Christopher's, or Antegoa or Jamaica, and if any good markets at any of those places, then you may dispose of my cargos," Browne wrote. "If the markets are low at ye English islands, then you may go and trade at Guardelope, Cape Francois or any of the French islands." Browne's instructions ran on in more detail and closed with a personal postscript, "Bring some oranges and limes."

After Browne died in 1731, the plantation passed to his son Samuel & then after his premature death to his grandson William Browne. His is a case study in powerful connections. A contemporary described his family as "the most respectable that has ever lived in the town of Salem ... possessing great riches." William Browne himself was surrounded by governors. His mother was a Winthrop, he attended Harvard with Jonathan Trumbull, a future governor (as well as John Adams, a future president), and married the daughter of Joseph Wanton, a future governor of Rhode Island. It was Wanton, whose family reputedly made a fortune in the slave trade, who found a new overseer for Browne when he needed one.

Little is known about Elijah Mason, a Lebanon farmer & slave master. According to the 1st federal census done in 1790, Mason owned 28 slaves. That number is extraordinary because slavery waned rapidly after Connecticut passed a gradual emancipation act in 1784, freeing children born to slaves after that date once they reached adulthood.
Connecticut House by Rebecca Couch (Mrs James C. Denison) 1788-1863

Yet on the eve of the Revolution, Connecticut had the largest number of slaves (6,464) in New England. Jackson Turner Main, surveying Connecticut estate inventories, found that in 1700 one in 10 inventories included slaves, rising to one in 4 on the eve of the Revolution.[1] Between 1756 & 1774, the proportion of slave to free in Connecticut increased by 40 percent. All the principal families of Norwich, Hartford, & New Haven were said to have 1 or 2 slaves. By 1774, half of all the ministers, lawyers, & public officials owned slaves, & a third of all the doctors.[2] But Connecticut's large slave population apparently was based in the middle class. More people had the opportunity to own slaves than in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, so more did so. "The greater prosperity of Connecticut's inhabitants & their frugal & industrious habits were responsible for this situation. The wealth of the colony was also more equally distributed, with few extremes of riches or poverty."[3]

The largest increase came in the period 1749-1774. By the latter year, New London County had become the greatest slaveholding section of New England, with almost 2x as many slaves as the most populous slave county in Massachusetts. New London was both an industrial center & the site of large slave-worked farms; with 2,036 slaves, it accounted for almost 1/3 of all the African Americans in Connecticut. New London town itself, with 522 African Americans & a white population of 5,366, led the state in number of slaves & percentage of black inhabitants.

Connecticut's slave population peaked at about 5,000 in 1774, but shipping records indicate its farms were feeding West Indies slaves by the tens of thousands. For a time after the Revolution, Connecticut's trade with the West Indies was double Boston's. As late as 1807, Middletown, thanks to the West Indies trade, was by one measure the busiest port between Cape Cod and New York.

Bernard Bailyn wrote that by 1770 New Englanders generally had achieved the highest standard of living the world had ever seen. Fortunes made in the West Indian trade would seed the industrial & financial fortunes to follow. "How was it that this unpromising, barely fertile region, incapable of producing a staple crop for European markets, became an economic success by the eve of the Revolution?" Bailyn asked. "The most important underlying fact in this whole story, the key dynamic force, unlikely as it may seem, was slavery. New England was not a slave society. On the eve of the Revolution, blacks constituted less than 4 percent of the population in Massachusetts & Connecticut, & many of them were free. But it was slavery, nevertheless, that made the commercial economy of 18th-century New England possible & drove it forward. ... The dynamic element in the region's economy was the profits from the Atlantic trade, & they rested almost entirely, directly or indirectly, on the flow of New England's products to the slave plantations & the sugar & tobacco industries they serviced."  Bailyn wrote that the slave plantations must be seen as "the great powerhouse" of the entire Atlantic economy. "Only a few of New England's merchants actually engaged in the slave trade, but all of them profited by it, lived off it," 

Connecticut slavery lacked the "paternalism" that characterized Southern slavery, so that even from the early days, the colony had a problem with masters who simply turned out their slaves when the African Americans got too old or worn-out to work. Their descendants later would treat factory hands that way, but masters who cast off old slaves made for a burden on the towns, so that by 1702 Connecticut passed a law making masters or their executors or heirs liable for freed African Americans, should their ex-slaves become indigent. This evidently was not enough, & in 1711, the law was revised to make it incumbent on masters to support their former slaves.

Discrimination against free African Americans was more severe in Connecticut than in other New England colonies. Their lives were strongly proscribed, even before they became numerous. In 1690, the colony forbade African Americans & Indians to be on the streets after 9 p.m. It also forbid black "servants" to wander beyond the limits of the towns or places, where they belonged without a ticket or pass from their masters or the authorities. A law of 1708, citing frequent fights between slaves & whites, imposed a minimum penalty of 30 lashes on any black who disturbed the peace or who attempted to strike a white person. Even speech was subject to control. By a 1730 law, & black, Indian, or mulatto slave "who uttered or published, about any white person, words which would be actionable if uttered by a free white was, upon conviction before any one assistant or justice of the peace, to be whipped with forty lashes."[4]

As early as 1717, citizens of New London in a town meeting voted their objection to free African Americans living in the town or owning land anywhere in the colony. That year, the colonial assembly passed a law in accordance with this sentiment, prohibiting free African Americans or mulattoes from residing in any town in the colony. It also forbid them to buy land or go into business without the consent of the town. The provisions were retroactive, so that if any black person had managed to buy land, the deed was rendered void, & a black resident of a town, however long he had been there, was now subject to prosecution at the discretion of the selectmen.

Like the black codes of the South & Midwest in the 19C, enforcement was uneven, & the real value of the law seemed to be in harassment; discouragement of further settlement; & as a constant reminder to free African Americans in Connecticut, that their existence was precarious & dependent on white toleration.

As in other Northern communities that would later object to the Fugitive Slave Act, authorities in Connecticut had been diligent in prosecuting runaways when slavery was part of their state's economy. Ferrymen were forbidden to take runaways across rivers under a fine of 5 shillings. The authorities would make an arrest on the slightest pretext, & keep the black person in jail while advertisements were run in the newspapers, seeking an owner. They had the power to arrest suspects without warrants in such cases, & even if the seized African Americans could prove they were free, but traveling without a pass, they still had to pay court costs.

"Connecticut's lawmakers were extremely cautious about moving against slavery. Negroes were more numerous in the state than in the rest of New England combined, & racial anxieties were correspondingly more acute."[5] The more African Americans lived in a Northern state, the more reluctantly that state approached the topic of emancipation.

Emancipation bills were rejected by the Connecticut Legislature in 1777, 1779, & 1780. Connecticut lawmakers did, however, in 1774 pass a law to halt the importation of slaves ("whereas the increase of slaves in this Colony is injurious to the poor & inconvenient ....").

In 1784, the abolition forces in the state tried a new tactic & presented a bill for gradual emancipation as part of a general statute codifying, in great detail, race relations. Almost as an afterthought, it provided that black & mulatto children born after March 1 would become free at age 25. The strategy worked, & the bill passed without opposition. An act of 1797 reduced that age to 21, bringing slavery in line with apprenticeship;though obviously slavery was not voluntary, & slaves did not receive money, clothes & professional standing at the end of their servitude.

As in other Northern states, gradual emancipation freed no slaves at once. It simply set up slavery for a long-term natural death. Connecticut finally abolished slavery entirely in 1848. The 1800 census counted 951 Connecticut slaves; the number diminished thereafter to 25 in 1830, but then inexplicably rose to 54 in the 1840 census. After that, slaves were no longer counted in censuses for the northern states.

Connecticut disenfranchised African Americans in 1818, but that was a mere formality. As in many other places in the North, there is no evidence that African Americans ever dared attempt to vote in Connecticut, in colonial times or after the Revolution.

1. Jackson Turner Main, Society & Economy in Colonial Connecticut, Princeton University Press, 1983, p.177.
2. ibid., table 5.1, etc.
3. Lorenzo Johnston Greene, The Negro in Colonial New England, 1620-1776. N.Y.: Columbia University Press, 1942, p.74-75.
3. ibid., p.138.
5. Edgar J. McManus, Black Bondage in the North, Syracuse University Press, 1973, pp.169-70.

Research for this article comes from the work of David L. Parsons of the Yale - New Haven Teachers' Institute & historian Douglas Harper.