Vice President Burr inquires about the purchase of "a little negro or mulatto girl"

    Aaron Burr Autograph Letter Signed. One page with integral address cover, 7.75" x 9.75"; New York; November 10, 1803. A letter to Captain Richard Oliver: "Benjamin Low who lives at a place called Kayserac some six or eight miles from you, owns, as I am informed, a little negro or mulatto girl about nine years old called Betsy and now living with her sister Lucy in this city. They are acquaintances and I believe relations of Peggy. The little girl wants to live in my family and both Peggy and Lucy wish that I would buy her. Will you take the trouble of going to Mr. Low and buying the girl for me. I shall be satisfied with whatever price you may agree to give... As to giving her freedom at any particular age, I will make no agreement about it - that must be left to me and will depend on the conduct..." Signed "A. Burr," with integral cover addressed in his hand.

    The state of New York passed a law for gradual abolition of slavery in 1799; subsequently, all children born to slave mothers were free, but required to work as indentured servants for the mother's master. At age nine, Betsy would have been born a slave, and her status remained unchanged. Although Burr was an advocate of emancipation, he is reluctant to commit to an exact date for Betsy's emancipation. All slaves in New York gained their freedom on July 4, 1827.

    Condition: The letter is fragile, with toning. Multiple separations at folds have been repaired on verso resulting in staining, additionally the adhesive has joined the pages. A small inventory label is adhered at front bottom left. Chipping along the right margin affects a few words. Paper loss to the address cover, where a portion has been cut away. Dampstaining throughout. Accompanied by a typed transcript on Arcadia Book Shop cards and an old (unrelated) Dallas Morning news article about a Burr descendant.

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    Auction Dates
    October, 2016
    19th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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