Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    William Vernon Sr. Autograph Letter Unsigned [Retained Copy]. One and one-quarter pages, 8" x 8.25", Newport, May 21, 1771, to an unnamed slave trader concerning a soon-to-arrive ship containing slaves. William Vernon (1719-1806) was a prosperous Newport, Rhode Island, merchant and slave trader acquainted with John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and the Marquis de Lafayette. Later in 1777, Vernon, whose maritime trading ventures included Europe, Africa, and the West Indies, was chosen by the Continental Congress to serve on the Eastern Navy Board.

    In this letter, the merchant writes of his slave trading activities. He had recently received a letter from the recipient of this letter, an unnamed slave trader. In that letter Vernon had learned that a Captain Duncan had received "all his Slaves in good health; a favourable circumstance upon a small purchase; and a prospect of their selling to your wishes, are events which we hope will terminate in our mutual benefit." Vernon continues the letter, "We have only to remark on the subject of remittances [illegible] Guinea Cargos, that he [Captain William Wightman] informed us of your proposals from the [illegible] he made in his pocket book or taken from your self which he said he would warrant as far as his Estate was worth to wave this matter, we cannot in the least, doubt your honor & integrity in making the very utmost advantages, both in the Sale and most favorable remittances, that are consistent with our Interests. . . . We note that Capt. Duncan hath no objection to avaraging [sic] his privelidge [sic] Slaves with the Cargo, that is, his men & wo[men] with such & his smaller with those of that denomination - meining [sic] thereby that his Slaves shall be no better than the Cargo of the same size & we hope the Vessel will be dispatched, indeed we expect to see her by the beginning of next month, and if not yet sail'd may send four Ton of good Hemp & 200 [barrels] of Flour. We could have wished you had mentioned the prices of those articles, it had been a guide in our order." This letter exhibits minor ink smudges, slight wrinkling along right edge. Minor ink burn in a few spots. Two minor tape repairs on page two along small edge tears. From the Papers of William Vernon.

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    Calculate Standard Domestic Shipping

    Sales Tax information  |  Terms and Conditions

    Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

    Glossary of Terms

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2010
    8th-9th Tuesday-Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 760

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2019 May 9 - 10 Space Exploration Signature Auction Featuring The Armstong Family Collection Part II.

    Learn about consigning with us

    I don’t often do testimonials but in this case I felt truly obligated to thank Heritage Auctions for the extremely professional job your organization did for me.
    Charlie K.,
    Pittsburgh, PA
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2018 November 10-11 The David and Janice Frent Collection of Presidential & Political Americana, Part IV - Dallas
    2018 November 10-11 The David and Janice Frent Collection of Presidential & Political Americana, Part IV - Dallas
    REALIZED SO FAR $654,597