Lot 61 of 413:
1863 "Insolent" slave of a Virginia woman plantation owner  

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$600 - $900


Virginia woman plantation owner hopes to sell an “insolent” slave during the Civil War - Letter

Griffin, M[argaret] E.

Bedford, Virginia


Nov. 29, 1863.


Autograph Letter Signed,  2pp., including stampless address leaf. To her cousin, John Davis.

Possibly widowed during the Civil War, left with two adolescent sons,  Mrs. Griffin was troubled by the slaves she had inherited, one of whom had become intolerably “insolent” (perhaps because he had heard of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, issued earlier that year) and begged her male cousin to help her sell or “hire” out all her slaves.

Mrs. Griffin had apparently "hired out” one of her women slaves, agreeing to supply her with “the usual winter clothing”, but feared the “cotton dress” she was sending would not be sufficient and that she might be “forced to replace” it. A greater concern was that Henry, another slave, who sometimes left the plantation without her knowledge, had “struck” her 15 year-old son. She had sent for the nearest magistrate to “come and settle” the matter of punishment,  but he had not appeared and “since then, Henry has been increasing in insolence, till his presence can no longer be endured.” She asked her cousin to “hire him or sell him, which ever may be most expedient”, though a sale would be preferable, “if a suitable negro could be bought in his place.” Meanwhile, “every negro here will have to be hired or sold”, but “who is to do it [?]…”

Lot Amendments

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