Skip over navigation
Brown shield Brown shield Brown University Library Brown shield Brown shield Brown University Library Center for Digital Initiatives


Contact; August 4, 1776
The Brown family's enterprises included a chandlery, where spermaceti, oil harvested from the headmatter of whales, was manufactured into bright-burning, smokeless candles. Labor demands in the chandlery fluctuated with the season, and the Brown's often relied on slaves to supplement the workforce of free laborers. Moses Brown's decision to manumit his slaves in 1773 disrupted this arrangement. In this contract, dated August 4, 1776, the four Brown brothers agreed not to employ slaves at the works, except during peak periods, when necessary to get the stock out. In such cases, the four brothers agreed, Moses could supply his quota of additional workers with free rather than enslaved laborers.