June 20, 2013 08:00 PM EDT Cincinnati


Robert Anderson, Williamsburg Merchant & Whig Politician, Manuscript Archive Including Letters Regarding His Slave Daughter

Approx. 27 items.

Robert Anderson (1781-1859) was an influential Federalist and Whig politician in Virginia. He served in the House of Burgesses, as mayor of Williamsburg, militia captain, and landowner in both Yorktown and Williamsburg. This archive contains receipts and many retained copies of letters that Anderson wrote throughout his long life.

Research has uncovered four children that Anderson fathered with his slaves, and three of the letters in this archive pertain to them. The first is a letter from Anderson dated October 1, 1857, to noted abolitionist Reverend Theodore Weld. Anderson wished to place a 15-year-old slave girl who was “seven eights and one quarter white” in Weld’s Eagleswood School in New Jersey. Eagleswood was a multi-racial, co-ed school where everyone was educated to equal standards.

Anderson’s letter reads in part: I wish to have her educated in a manner that the laws and customs of Virg[i]ni[a]… [no]t approve.* She has a brother much like her in his eleventh year who might soon, if not at once, join his sister, and two younger sisters in their seventh and fourth years whose complexions and features are more delicate (and considered beautiful) to follow the fortunes of their brethren should they live.

The footnote to the asterisk above reads: Virginia slaves after leaving the state may return as such, but they are not allowed to do so [after] a year of freedom; and it is not desirable that Catherine Haidee Griffin be expatriated from the Old Dominion.

The second slave-related letter is a tuition bill for Haidee dated February 24, 1858, signed by Reverend Weld. Weld and his wife Angelina, a noted abolitionist herself, were aware that Anderson was the father of all four children, but kept the fact from the other students.

The third letter is from Anderson to his nephew William in Princeton, NJ, asking him to fetch Haidee from Eagleswood, as she had been sick and the semester was ending. In the letter, Anderson asks William to bring Haidee back to Yorktown if possible for spring break.

One other possibly slave-related letter in this archive is an 1854 bill from Dr. Frederick Powers for house calls and treatment of multiple females, none of whose names match Anderson’s wife or stepdaughters.

Other interesting documents include a copy of owners of city lots in Yorktown as recorded in the 1798 commissioners' book; an 1832 letter choosing delegates to the first Democratic Presidential nominating convention in Baltimore; an 1821 peace bond witnessed by Anderson as mayor of Williamsburg; and various political and business excerpts and receipts.
Estimate: $800 - $1,200
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium


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