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Lot #293
Henry A. Wise

“Infamous traffic”: A future Confederate general writes on the slave trade

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“Infamous traffic”: A future Confederate general writes on the slave trade

American statesman and diplomat (1806–1876) who served as a brigadier general in the Confederate army, where he fought beside Lee at Appomattox Court House. His most notable act as Governor of Virginia (1856–1859) was to sign the death warrant of famed abolitionist John Brown. ALS, four pages on two adjoining sheets, 8 x 10, December 21, 1845. Wise, then U.S. Minister to Brazil in the cabinet of John Tyler, writes to “Walke,” a naval lieutenant. In part: “Your description of the ‘pretty set’ of public functionaries, and private Corps of slave-dealers at Bahia is, doubtless, true and just. At hundreds of miles off I had, without ever having seen the man in my life, already judged Mr. Consul Tyler to be very deficient in qualifications of his office. Gilmer is no doubt deep in the African live-stock trade, and Tyler was his clerk and would have been still had I not alarmed him as to his position and course touching the infamous traffic. Pennington, poor fellow, is far gone in his habits, and, being of an easy & temporizing disposition, is reduced far below the grade of a negative character…. I was very sorry you did not reach Bahia in time to intercept the Ship Calhoun with that pirate Driscoll on board of her…. One of his part owners of the Calhoun has purchased a steamer, the Cacique, in the U. States. From N. York she has put in at Balt. & thence to Bahia…. Driscoll, mistaking her for a Portugize [sic] steamer in pursuit of him, ran the Calhoun ashore & destroyed her. He and his crew, the last we heard of them, wanderers on the savage and barren coast. May God preserve them for the gallows from the savages whom they would enslave….” A touch of mild soiling and faint show-through, otherwise fine, crisp condition. R&R COA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title:
  • Dates: #332 - Ended April 16, 2008