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Wanton, Joseph to Nicholas Brown & Co.; August 4, 1764
In addition to being brutal and inhumane, transatlantic slave trading was also a complex, competitive business, placing a premium on experience and knowledge of local conditions on the African coast. Having determined to send the Sally to Africa, the Brown brothers offered the ship to William Earle, who had commanded their previous slave trading vessel, the Wheel of Fortune, in 1759. But Earl declined, having already accepted the command of an Africa-bound ship owned by Simeon Potter, a leading Rhode Island slave trader. In this letter, dated August 4, 1764, Joseph Wanton, a Newport merchant and ship's captain, offers his services. Being "well acquainted and well experienced in the Ginea Trade all Down the Coasts," Wanton was confident that he could give the Browns satisfaction. In the event, the Browns offered the ship to the inexperienced Esek Hopkins, a decision that Wanton predicted they would regret