Lot 5 of 455:
1835 Four Letters by a Tennessee Slave Trader  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$3,000
$1,500 - $2,000

Letters by a Tennessee Slave Trader to his Virginia partner

Meek, Joseph





4 Autograph Letters Signed. Nashville, Tenn., March 22, April 28, June 6 and 15, 1835. 9 pp. total. To Samuel Logan, Abingdon, Virginia.

Written over a three-month period, Meek detailed his business practices and strategies, giving advice to partners and agents about the advantages of purchasing slaves on credit with loans freely given by New York and Philadelphia banks, and the impact on Slave supply and demand of the cotton crop and the weather:

  “…if they have any women and children or old ones swap them off, if possible, for saleable ones, and lose no large likely fellows, nor women at nothing like a fair price… men has been 700, girls 500 for the first rate field hands… likely men could be purchased at Vicksburg at 700 to 750 on twelve months credit….Negroes sell best at the commencement of packing out cotton… owing to the long wet and hot June, there was a great deal of sickness  amongst the Slaves.…when the crab grass gets a start, it cannot be conquered, and when the farmers spirits is down, they will not purchase Slaves…do not be outbid by any man for first rate Negroes…to give 450 for a ten year old boy is out of the question. And if all the best of the women and child would be first rate, they might do…”

Not to be confused with his namesake, the Virginia-born “Mountain Man” and Oregon pioneer, slave-trading Joseph Meek owned a large Mississippi plantation run by an overseer, while he travelled through the Southern states, buying and selling Blacks in partnership with Virginia lawyer Logan, who guarded his law firm's reputation by hiring others to front for him at slave auctions. Meek died two years later, after the financial Panic of 1837, his estate “much embarrassed” and his financial affairs tied up in litigation over claims that he fraudulently sold sick slaves.

Other Meek-Logan letters have been preserved by the Virginia Historical Society and Fisk University. 

Lot Amendments

Very good.

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