• Mobile, AL, Promissory Note For Enslaved Female "Charity"

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    6 x 8 ½ promissory note for one year’s hire in 1854 of an enslaved female named “Charity” in Florence, Alabama, Jan. 1st, 1854.

    “On or before the first day of January next, we or either of us promise to pay to E.B. Lester...sixty five dollars for hire of Charity for this year and furnish her with the usual amount of Summer & Winter Clothing.

    “Amount of hire to be paid in monthly installments...

    “Paid in full. R.L. Bliss”

    Verso contains a ledger breakdown of the payments made.

    On blue-lined paper and written in excellent 19th century script, 11 years before slavery would end in Alabama just after the state surrendered after the Civil War.  More than 440,000 Black slaves were freed and assimilated into society with the help of the Freedmen’s Bureau.

    Florence, Alabama has a rich history of slavery that includes the famous Dred Scott, whose name is associated with the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision of 1857. Scott came to Florence with the Peter Blow family in 1820. Blow established an inn, where Scott served as the Hostler until the Blows relocated. Afterwards, Scott was sold to Dr. John Emerson through whom Scott fought for the legal right for freedom in the Dred Scott Decision.  Scott lost the first trial on a technicality, but won his freedom in a second trial.

    The promissory note offered here is an excellent example of African Americana written in the latter days of slavery and reflecting clearly that enslaved people were treated as property.

    Light toning. Else excellent.


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