Description

    "It would be an outrage upon humanity to take the life of an ignorant, foolish negro under the circumstances of this case."

    Raphael Semmes Autograph Letter Signed. Four pages, 7" x 4.5", Washington D.C., February 19, 1859. A letter addressed to William B. Harwood concerning the fate of his slave, "Jake", who had been convicted of a capital crime. Great content revealing Semme's opinion on slavery and the application of law in the South: "I have received yours of the 14th inst., informing me of the conviction of my negro fellow Jake, of a burglary, which carries with it in the penalty of death. I am satisfied that you have made every proper exertion to protect my interests, and to save the unfortunate and foolish negro from so horrible a fate. You are right in saying that this boy should not be hung. It would be an outrage upon humanity to take the life of an ignorant, foolish negro under the circumstances of this case. I do not believe him to be a vicious, wicked negro, who could knowingly commit a great crime. I purchased him in June last, and had him, in my family, & under my eye for three months & more. I found, unreliable in matters of trust and tricky, but humble, and easily governed... As you describe the case, I have not the least doubt that he has been corrupted & seduced into the commission of crime, by the law empowering whites - particularly the women - with whom, it appears, he was permitted to deal... I am glad that the jury and the judge who tried the case, have recommended him to the mercy of the governor, who being a just & humane man, will, I doubt not, pardon him...." Near fine with bold ink; a single repair along the vertical fold just touches a few words.


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2013
    17th-18th Thursday-Friday
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