Revolutionary War-dated ALS signed “P. Henry,” one page both sides, 7.25 x 9, March 15, 1778. Letter to his brother-in-law William Christian. In part: “Yours by Moody came both of them safe to hand may have a good bargain of D. Bottom as Money will still decrease in value. But I think you ought to give more to it, because it can't make any capitilization for the better in your affairs. Lay this down for about viz. not to remove without capitally benefiting yourself otherwise you'll be forever unsettled. The place we live at is certainly preferable on many accounts and has many advantages especially for the children who you know best….Don't go for a trifling advantage—Besides Lomax has heard of much Land to sell in Henry…I've sent Jno. Payne to look and he has not returned. I know not the price…if I get a large Tract shall have my way altogether….I expect there is room…to have an end of uncertainty of abode. But I must wait. Will you write me what my James River Land will fetch?…Pray write me…I shall go soon for I've not a moment to do it by this man. I don't believe that all [Daniel] Boon[e]'s party are lost—my dear wife says she has enquired for the Shoes, but at present do not hear of any but will secure them as soon as possible. They ask too much for making a pair. I’m offered £4000 for some Scotch and some Neg[roe]s but shall take no less than 5000. Negroes rise price with that fellows are £300. Most people talk of the war with England supposing…a wise proposal will be made to gain time & then attack them with great reinforcements. Several ships arrive from France with goods which keep up yet. The news they bring to us is important. The French are very friendly still.” Restored to very good condition, with three sections in the margin replaced and filled out in a modern hand with missing words, repaired separations to intersecting folds, and scattered toning and soiling. This letter is cited in the authoritative biography Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer by John Mack Faragher.
Henry touches upon a series of fascinating topics at a critical point in American history, including his own business affairs, the recent capture of Daniel Boone and his men, the cost of slaves, the public’s outlook on the Revolution, and crucial French aid against Great Britain. On February 7, Daniel Boone was leading a hunting expedition when he was surprised by Shawnee warriors and forced to surrender himself and his 26-man party. Their absence soon discovered and fate unknown, news of the disappearance reached Virginia in March amid rumors that they were captured, massacred, or even turncoat Loyalists off to fight for the British. Henry was rightfully optimistic—Boone bluffed his way into his Shawnee captors’ confidence and escaped in June after learning of their planned attack on Boonesborough. He raced home and responded with a preemptive raid against the Shawnees across the Ohio River before successfully leading the defense of Boonesborough during a ten-day retaliatory siege. At the same time, France was officially entering the Revolutionary War as an American ally. In signing the Treaty of Alliance in February 1778, France became the first country to officially recognize the United States as an independent nation. Under this alliance, France supplied the “great reinforcements” anticipated by the American public with both ‘boots on the ground’ military might and enormous financial support. Autograph letters by Henry of this great length are exceedingly scarce and rarely found with such diverse and important content.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.