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Wanton, Joseph

Nicholas Brown & Co. to Wanton, Joseph and William; August 11, 1764

Letter to Nicholas Brown and Company from Joseph and William Wanton, merchants in Newport. The letter, dated August 11, 1764, conveys details for a purchase of 185 barrels of rum, a portion of the 17,274 gallons of rum loaded onto the Sally before its departure for West Africa.

Nicholas Brown & Co. to Wanton, Joseph and William; July 19, 1765

Letter, dated July 19, 1765, from Nicholas Brown and Company to the Joseph and William Wanton, merchants in Newport. Two days before, the Browns had finally received a letter from Esek Hopkins, contradicting earlier reports that he and the Sally had been lost on the African coast. It appears that the news moved the brothers to take out additional insurance on the voyage. In this letter, they ask the Wantons to advance two hogsheads of sugar to a James Burney on their account, apparently as part of that insurance arrangement. The Browns also asked the Wantons to forward letters of instructions to Hopkins on ships departing from Newport for Jamaica and Barbados.

Nicholas Brown & Co. to Wanton, Joseph and William; October 12, 1765

Letter, dated October 12, 1765, from Nicholas Brown and Company to Joseph and William Wanton, merchants in Newport. The letter seeks the proceeds from the sale of twelve boxes of spermaceti candles that the Browns had consigned to a Captain Morris, a slave ship captain who had recently returned from Africa on a Wanton-owned ship. The candles had been used to acquire slaves. "You can Either give us the Money at what the Candles Sold for [or] we will take our proportion of what the Slaves Sold for Deducting Freight +c," the Browns write.

Wanton, Joseph and William to Nicholas Brown & Co.; June 26, 1765

Letter from Joseph and William Wanton, merchants in Newport, to the Brown brothers, June 26, 1765, discussing business affairs and offering condolences for the reported loss of the Sally and its crew on the African coast. The Wantons also share information about the state of the slave trade on the Gold Coast, which was reportedly awash in slave ships and rum. Had the Sally "proceeded down Anamaboe it would have been no better with Regard to Trade," they note, adding: "[T]here was on 6th April 17 Sail of Europeans and Rum men [i.e. Rhode Island slave ships] + the latter could not get a Slave at any price..."

Wanton, Joseph Jr. to Brown, John; June 20, 1766

Letter from Joseph Wanton, Jr., a Newport merchant and slave trader, to John Brown, concerning some "paper hangings," dated June 20, 1766. In a postscript, Wanton requests permission to inspect the account book from the recently completed voyage of the Sally, in hopes of gleaning information about trading conditions on the African coast.

Wanton, Joseph Jr. to Nicholas Brown & Co.; August 13, 1764

Letter to the Brown brothers from Joseph Wanton, Jr., a Newport merchant and slave trader, regarding Thomas Underwood, who has agreed to serve as first officer of the Sally on its forthcoming voyage to Africa in exchange for a wage of £60 per month and a privilege (i.e. a commission) of four slaves. The letter, dated August 13, 1764, also advises the Browns to replace the Sally's master, Esek Hopkins, who had no experience in the slave trade, with a more experienced captain named Crosswell. "[S]uch times as will be when your vessel gets there, never were before," Wanton warns, "and having a Stranger must make it worse." In a letter sent the previous week, Wanton had volunteered his own services to command the ship.

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