• Salem, MA, Naval Sailor Serves In Africa When U.S. Is Concerned About Stopping Illegal Slave Trade

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    African slave trade patrols were part of the Blockade of Africa to suppress the slave trade between 1819 and the beginning of the American Civil War. Because of the abolitionist movement in the United States, a squadron of U.S. Navy warships and Cutters were assigned to catch slave traders in and around Africa. In 42 years about 100 suspected slave ships were captured.

    The 3 pp, 7 7/8 x 9 7/8, ALS, from Salem, MA, December 10th, 1857, offered here is written by Sumner Hill to his brother John, who is serving about the Navy Ship Bark “Fire Fly” in Africa. The letter makes no mention of a slave blockade, but the Navy was known for that very activity in Africa at that time.  Sumner also writes his views the John Tremont candidacy for the U.S. presidency, stating his strong preference for James Buchanan.

    Sumner Hill writes, “The Bark ‘Fire Fly’ sales from this port for Africa on Saturday or Monday so I thought I would write you...We wrote you after you had been gone about a month and sent it by the way of England if it went through safe. I presume you have got it...I am still here in Salem and a good prospect of stopping here for the present for business is awful dull that it is an impossibility to get employment....

    “I am boarding down here now. My season ticket expires the first of this month and I have stopped down ever since. I am boarding with Aunt Betsy and likely first rate. I shall stop here till the first of March and then get another season ticket if I stop in the Custom House.

    “...Notwithstanding the hard times, Father seems to be the same as ever in financial affairs but in health he is somewhat defiant. I am in hopes, however, that he will be better before long...

    “I mentioned Mr. Forsythe’s name. If you should not happen to get that letter you will of course know nothing of him...He is in the Brig. Trenton. She sailed from here about a fortnight after you...I forgot to tell him of your being out there when I saw him last.

    “John C. Tremont, the Whig candidate for President at the last administration and his wife Jessie was in Salem yesterday...I got a good peep at both of them. He is a fine looking man and she is a fine looking woman but for all that I should rather have Buchanan for President than a dozen Tremonts. He was followed by a large crowd of his people and when he got on board of the cars he was cheered in good style as also was his wife Jessie...

    “We intend to send you some [news]papers by this vessel...Sumner Hill”

    Folds. Excellent condition.

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