Folded letter sheet, signed, 3 pp., plus integral address leaf. Hole through document that affects a few letters, but not significantly, A second larger hole on back sheet, but not affecting text, normal creasing, a little staining or soiling; otherwise very good. This is a highly legible letter from William H. Betts to his friend Colin Stokes of Lunenberg, Virginia. Betts appears to have been a slave trader for a number of years, and a partnership with A.C. Pullman is listed in the Richmond commercial registry, Pullman and Betts. Hard to believe, even 175 plus years later, the casual tone in Betts letter to his friend, "Negroes are rather in the decline here, the good Negroes still sell very well. The last I heard from Harris he had 4 on hand, he had done very well this season only that we ought to have sold twice as many negroes as we did. "Much of the letter is devoted to political issues. He had a rather negative view of local politics, but he was equally upset with the US Congress having "done nothing in the world but quarrel about the slavery question." He goes as far as to describe Congress as "unmanageable as a pen of hogs." It appears, as we get close to the Civil War, not surprisingly his slave auction business was on the verge of financial collapse. However, according to research by a previous owner, from local sources, his firm still managed to publish a "price list" of Blacks for sale prior to 1860. While slave documents that include a bill of sale for slave or group of slaves is not unusual, but a document from someone involved in the actual slave trade is far more rare.
Virginia Department of Historic Resources Website (Inventory #: 106452)
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