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Guide to the American Slavery Manuscript Collection

MSN/EA 0200


Collection Summary

Title: American slavery manuscript collection
Dates: 1771-1864
Collection No.: MSN/EA 0200
Extent: 19 folders; 1 container and 1 flat storage container
Language: Collection material in English
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: An accumulation of 19 documents and letters, unrelated in origin, with a bearing on slavery in colonial North America and the United States, 1771-1864.

Selected Search Terms

Ibrahima, Abd al-Rahman, 1762-1829
Slavery -- Kentucky -- History -- 19th century
Slavery -- History -- United States -- 19th century -- Sources

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Preferred Citation: American Slavery Manuscript Collection, Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The manuscripts in this collection were purchased individually, from various vendors, over the period 2002-06. Arranged and described 2004-06, by George Rugg. Finding aid 2011-12, by Scott W. Young and George Rugg.

Biographical Note

Scope and Content Note

Many of the documents gathered in this collection are either slave bills of sale or estate inventories that include slaves. Seven are from Kentucky, including several from Madison County. The collection also includes several personal letters and a sample of the Arabic hand of Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima, a freed slave who achieved a measure of fame during a tour of the Northeast in 1828.

Arrangement Note

Materials are arranged chronologically, one item per folder.

Container List

  • Document. Slave bill of sale, Jeremiah Simmons to Samuel Bordon, 1771 March 25. Folder 1 (MSN/EA 0200-01).
    DS, 1 page on 1 sheet.
    Authorizing the transfer of one negro slave boy, namely Peter, about thirteen years of age, from Jeremiah Simmons to Samuel Bordon of Tiverton, Rhode Island. The sale price is 155 "good silver spanish mild dolers".
    • Document. John Adams, Endorsement of bill of sale, John Alston to William Wilboan, 1808 March 3. Folder 2 (MSN/EA 0200-02).
      DS, partly printed, 1 page on 1 folded sheet, with docketing.
      A document whereby John Adams acknowledges the validity of a slave bill of sale, transferring a negro named Jane from John Alston to William Wilboan (Wilburn?). The residences of the principles are unknown.
      • Document. Bill of sale, Isaac Williams to Callastie Brosseur, 1810 February 3. Folder 3 (MSN/EA 0200-03).
        ADS, 1 page on 1 sheet, with docketing on verso.
        A bill of sale recording the transfer of a slave named Hester, age about 15, from Isaac Williams of Wilkinson County, Mississippi Territory, to Callastie Brosseur or Brasseur of St. Landry Parish, Territory of Orleans. The sale price is $600.
        • Document. Bill of sale, Robert Frazer to Joseph Boswill, 1813 July 10. Folder 4 (MSN/EA 0200-04).
          ADS, 1 page on 1 sheet, with docketing on verso.
          A bill of sale recording the transfer of a slave named Joe, age about 29, from Robert Frazer of Lexington, Kentucky to Joseph Boswill of the same city. The sale price is $600.
          • Document. Itemized estate sale bill, John McKellar, 1818 Janurary 1. Folder 5 (MSN/EA 0200-05).
            DS, 1 page on 1 sheet.
            This 1-page bill includes 8 bondsmen purchased at the sale of the estate of John McKellar, possibly of Cumberland County, North Carolina. The names of the slaves are Lucy (woman), Sam, Isham, Ned, Dinna, Lucy (girl), Maria, and Hetty; prices range from $191 to $1255.
            • Document. Slave bill of sale, re the case of Henry v. Labadie, 1821 April 8. Folder 6 (MSN/EA 0200-06-F1).
              DS, 1 page on 1 sheet, partly printed, with endorsement on verso.
              George W. Morgan, sheriff of New Orleans Parish, states that per court order he has seized the slave Rosine and her two children from Pierre Labadie and witnessed their sale to P. D. Henry for the sum of $680.
              • Document. Bill of sale, John Chadwick to Amos Durbin, 1824 Janurary 16. Folder 7 (MSN/EA 0200-07).
                ADS, 1 page on 1 sheet, with docketing on verso.
                Recording the transfer of a slave woman named Eda from John Chadwick of Greenup County, Kentucky to Samuel Bordon. The sale price is 200 dollars in specie.
                • Manuscript. Arabic writing of Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima, 1828. Folder 8 (MSN/EA 0200-08).
                  AMS, 1 page on 1 sheet, with annotations in pencil.
                  Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima (c. 1762-1829) was a native of Timbo, Futa Jallon, in what is now the West African nation of Guinea. He was the son of the Fulbe chief Ibrahima Yoro Pate Sori, and was educated at the centers of Islamic learning in Sori's empire. Following his capture on a military expedition he was sold into slavery, ultimately working for some 40 years on a Natchez, Mississippi cotton plantation owned by Thomas Foster. Through an unlikely chain of events Abd al-Rahman's identity as an "African prince" who could read and write Arabic came to be recognized and celebrated, and in 1828 he and his wife were emancipated. To raise money for the purchase of his children's freedom, Abd al-Rahman undertook a sponsored tour of the Northeast, appearing as an exotic in "Moorish costume" and demonstating his literacy by producing written passages in Arabic. This manuscript is just such a souvenir, apparently acquired in Boston by then-Massachusetts Congressman Edward Everett (1794-1865). The Arabic script is crudely accomplished and the text is not entirely comprehensible. Abd al-Rahman identifies himself by name in the first line, and follows this with other biographical information and Muslim invocations.
                  • Letter. H[enry] Hull, Athens, Georgia, to Mr. James L. Coleman, Bedford, Georgia 1830 February 8. Folder 9 (MSN/EA 0200-09).
                    ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
                    Hull's letter is mostly given over to a discussion of possible transactions involving two slaves named Clarke and Dick. The author was a physician and planter who had just assumed a chair in mathematics at the University of Georgia. The 1830 Federal Census indicates that he held 16 slaves.
                    • Document. Itemized estate sale bill, Andrew Tribble, 1830 December 29-31. Folder 10 (MSN/EA 0200-10-F1).
                      DS, 14 pages, stitched.
                      Page 14 of this bill lists 12 slaves purchased at the sale of the estate of Andrew Tribble of Madison County, Kentucky, 29-31 December 1830 (Tribble's wife, Sarah Ann Burris, died 15 December 1830).
                      • Document. Clementina G. Holman, will, 1847 March 30. Folder 11 (MSN/EA 0200-11).
                        DS, 1 page on 1 sheet, with endorsement and docketing on verso.
                        A will whereby Mrs. Clementina Holman of San Augustine County, Texas bequeaths to her two children ". . . The Eight Negroes and their increase[:] Morry and his children Henrietta and Richard[;] Peter Caroline and their Children Jane Ellick and Harry . . . ."
                        • Letter. J. Heagey, New Franklin, to unidentified, 1854 June 24. Folder 12 (MSN/EA 0200-12).
                          ALS, 2 pages on 1 sheet.
                          Most of this personal letter is given over to a somewhat fractured narrative regarding the capture and attempted (illegal) sale of a group of runaway slaves, in Georgia and Alabama.
                          • Document. Itemized estate sale bill, Isham R. Fox, 1854 September 7. Folder 13 (MSN/EA 0200-13).
                            DS, 12 pages on 4 sheets.
                            Page 12 of this bill lists 18 slaves purchased at the sale of the estate of Isham R. Fox (d. 25 June 1854) of Madison County, Kentucky. Information includes the name of the buyer, the name of the bondsman, and price. Prices for individuals range from $100 to $1805.
                            • Document. Itemized estate appraisal bill, Zachariah Gray, 1854 October 31. Folder 14 (MSN/EA 0200-14).
                              DS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, with docketing.
                              This "Appraise Bill of the Goods and Chattles of Zachariah Gray died Oct. 31st 1854" includes 8 slaves, with values ranging from $270 to $1000.
                              • Document. Slave bill of sale, T. W. Williams to Martha E. Turberville, 1854 November 27. Folder 15 (MSN/EA 0200-15).
                                ADS, 2 pages on 1 sheet, with endorsements and docketing,
                                Authorizing the transfer of a slave named Maria, forty-one years of age, and her child from T. W. Williams of Monroe Country, Mississippi to Martha E. Turberville, wife of John W. Turberville. The sale price is $1100. Williams states in the document that the negroes are "healthy and sensible and slaves for life."
                                • Document. Bill of sale, Grandeson M. Kemp to Simpson Kemp, 1855 December 11. Folder 16 (MSN/EA 0200-16).
                                  DS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, with docketing.
                                  A bill of sale recording the transfer of slaves from Grandeson M. Kemp of St. Helena Parish, Louisiana to Simpson Kemp of Livingston Parish. The sale includes "The following described Slaves (to wit) Tom a negro man of black color aged Twenty Eight years. June a negro woman of black color aged thirty seven years and her four children all of black color Lazarus a boy aged Eight years Lawson aged Six years Monroe aged four years and Amanda aged four months and Teresa a Girl of Griff Color all slaves for life . . . and Valued at thirty five hundred Dollars." This latter price was met by the transfer to Grandeson Kemp of eight (named) slaves valued at $3450, plus cash.
                                  • Document. Itemized estate sale bill, Thomas Willis, 1862 Janurary 22. Folder 17 (MSN/EA 0200-17).
                                    DS, 8 pages on 10 sheets, with docketing.
                                    Page 8 of this bill lists 22 slaves purchased at the sale of the estate of Thomas Willis of Madison County, Kentucky. Information includes the name of the buyer, the name of the bondsman, and price. Prices for individuals range from $1 to $555. The slaves' names are Anthony, Louan (with one child), Mourning, Thomas, Matthew, Emaline, John, George, Harrison, William, Permela (with one child), Mary (with one child), Robert, Taylor, Sarah (with one child), Church, Bettie, and Polina Jane.
                                    • Document. Slave settlement document, Samuel A. Middleton, 1863 October 10. Folder 18 (MSN/EA 0200-18).
                                      DS, 4 pages on 2 sheets, stitched.
                                      A document recording the findings of a commission appointed by the Lincoln County (Kentucky) court, whereby the 22 slaves of Samuel A. Middleton, deceased, are appraised and divided among Middleton's widow and other heirs. Listed bondsmen are Amanda (with three children), Caroline (with one child), Morgan, Harriet, Sallie, Belle, George, Sam, John, Caleb, James, Dave, Andy, Thornton, Brady, Nathan, and Maria (with one child). Values range from $175 to $500.
                                      • Document. Martin Gentry, will codicil, 1864 April 28. Folder 19 (MSN/EA 0200-19).
                                        ADS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet, with docketing.
                                        Included in this second codicil to the will of Martin Gentry of Madison County, Kentucky is the statement: "At the age of Twenty one years I emancipate and set free a negro boy named Lewis about six or seven years old copper colour his mother's name was Samina she is dead. It is my will that the boy Lewis be put to live with Mrs. Elizabeth Dean . . . until he arrives at twenty one years of age."