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May 24, 1770-Dated Colonial Period, Manuscript Document, Accounting Record from the Well-Known Slave Traders, Sam and William Vernon, Newport, Rhode Island, Choice Very Fine.The Manuscript Document measures 7.5” x 6” and records, in fine detail, the barrels of flour, Ship’s bread, and rum traded between Samuel and William Vernon and Peter Fredenburgh of Newport, Rhode Island. Though not stated explicitly here, this was probably for outfitting one of the Slave Ships the Vernons used in the Newport “Triangle” Slave Trade. They brought supplies to Africa, then purchased Slaves, and transported them to America (usually Charleston, South Carolina), then returning to Newport. Peter Fredenburgh signs at the bottom. The trade between the Vernons and Fredenburgh was off by only 84 Pounds on a 4,800 Pound purchase of Rum. The condition of this document is excellent, with crisp bold writing on bright, laid period paper.
William Vernon (January 17, 1719 - December 22, 1806), of Newport, Rhode Island, was a New England trader who played a leading role in the Continental Congress' maritime activities during the American Revolution. As president of the Eastern Navy Board during the Revolution, he was responsible for building and outfitting the ships of the Continental Navy.
The Vernon brothers, William and Samuel, made a name for themselves in Newport by successfully utilizing the "triangle trade." Their first ship, commanded by Captain John Godfrey, was ironically named the Olive Branch. The brothers also owned the Hare, a ship whose participation in the American slave trade is well documented. Incredible profits were made by purchasing slaves in Africa with rum from the colonies, selling those slaves in the West Indies, using those profits to purchase molasses from those ports before buying more rum in the colonies, continuing the triangular cycle of trade.
The Vernons are known as the first Newport merchants to sell African slaves directly to the southern colonies, instead of exclusively in the West Indies. Their ships returning from the West Indies offloaded slaves in South Carolina in exchange for barrels of rice destined for markets in New England. Their first sale to the southern colonies was made in Charleston in 1755. These brothers serve as a perfect example of the pivotal role many northern colonies played in the American slave trade.