AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED TO JAMES KEITH OF FREDERICK COUNTY, VIRGINIA, DECEMBER 29, 1769: "MR. BROWN SENDS UP THE BEARER FOR HIS NEGROES, AND THE BALLANCE DUE HIM, FOR THEIR WAGES, HE ALSO TELLS ME, THAT YOU EXPECTED HE WOULD ABATE SOMETHING IN THE SUM, AS YOU WERE IMPOSED ON IN THE CHARACTERS OF THE SLAVES, IF THAT BE TRUE I KNOW NOT WHO WAS THE PERSON, THAT GAVE YOU THEIR CHARACTERS. I NEED NOT TELL YOU THAT I DID NOT, AS IT IS A FACT YOU MUST BE WELL ACQUAINTED WITH, PLEASE TO RECOLLECK, ALL THAT PASSED AT NEVILLES WAS, THAT I INFORMED YOU & SOME OTHERS, THAT I HAD THREE LIKELY FELLOWS TO HIRE OUT THE INSUING YEAR, AT ELEVEN POUNDS EACH, & THEIR CLOATHS, YOUR ANSWER WAS, THAT IT WAS TOO MUCH, & SO THE CONVERSATION ENDED. SOON AFTER YOU SENT DOWN YOUR OVERSEER FOR THEM, TO HIM I TOLD THEIR QUALITIES, & THAT THEIR RUNNING AWAY WAS A PRINCIPAL MOTIVE WITH THEIR MISTRESS FOR HIRING THEM OUT, I EVEN WENT SO FAR AS TO TELL HIM, THAT UNLESS HE TOOK GOOD CARE, THEY WOULD LEAVE HIM ON HIS WAY UP ON THE WHOLE, THAT THE NEGROES MAY NOT BE SO GOOD AS YOU EXPECTED MAY BE TRUE, BUT THAT YOU HAD ANY FARTHER CHARACTER OF THEM FROM ME, THAN THAT THEY WERE LIKELY YOUNG FELLOWS MUST BE A MISTAKE. I AM SIR YR MOST OBT. HUMBLE SERVT./ CUTH BULLETT. DECR 29TH 1769."
Frederick County, VA: 1769. Single sheet folded to 6" x 7-3/4". , [1 blank] [1-docketed] pp. Completely in ink manuscript. Old folds, some staining which does not obscure text. Small hole through last page from wax seal [no text loss]. Addressed to Keith in Frederick County, and docketed ["Bullitt's Letter about Brown's Negroes"} on final page. Good+ to Very Good.
An early letter on chattel slavery from Cuthbert Bullitt [c.1740-1791], a lawyer and plantation owner from Prince William County, Virginia. He was a delegate to Virginia's 1776 Provincial Congress, prosecuting Commonwealth Attorney of the County, a state court judge, and delegate to the Virginia Ratifying Convention of 1788.
James Keith [1734-c.1800] was the brother of Mary Randolph [Keith] Marshall [1737-1809]. Her son, future Chief Justice of the United States John Marshall, was Keith's nephew. Item #36181