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Chase, Samuel (1741-1811) to James Winchester

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04765 Author/Creator: Chase, Samuel (1741-1811) Place Written: Baltimore, Maryland Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 31 May 1803 Pagination: 4 p. : docket ; 33.3 x 20.3 cm.

Summary of Content: Discussing appropriate division of compensation among sailors who salvaged the French ship "Blaireau." Chase discusses the situation and offers his advice. On subject of a black sailor who helped during the salvage, says if he is free he deserves a share, though less than white sailors, and if a slave, still deserves some small payment for taking risks to assist in the salvage. Chase acknowledges the case may be appealed to him in the Supreme Court, and one year later it was, in the case of "Mason v. Ship Blaireau." Among the rulings of the court was that the compensation for the black sailor, who was a slave, should be paid to his master.

Background Information: Samuel Chase was a United States Supreme Court Justice. He also represented Maryland in the Continental Congress. In 1804 he was impeached but eventually acquitted. James Winchester was a judge in ...Maryland District Court.
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Full Transcript: [excerpts] [draft]

[1] I set off, tomorrow, for New-Castle. I hear that you are, on this day [illegible] to decide the amount of the salvage to be obtained on the French ...ship, Blaireau and her cargo ;c that the counsil, for the french consul, Dorland, in court, that they coud appeal; if you allowed more than 1/3. I understand that the ship and cargo would certainly have been wholly lost, but for the [illegible] services of the Captain and crew of the ship Firm.

[3] I hear that a Negroe, (who waited on Mr. Christio) was put on board the Blaireau, & that it is not known, whether he is a Slave, or free. If free he ought to [be given] [inserted: the same] Proportion of Salvage as any other on board; but I think, something less than a white seaman. If he is a slave, as his service to the owners of the Blaireau was personel, & at the Risque of his life, a sum of money ought to be given and paid to him; & the [Residue] to his owner.

[postscript:]
I believe War is certain. Flushing [tHolland] in a state of siege! Says Bona Parte ;c So wd. be [illegible] New York - if in his power!!!!
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People: Chase, Samuel, 1741-1811
Winchester, James, 1772-1806

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: MaritimeFranceAfrican American HistoryFreemenLawSlaveryFinance

Sub Era: The Age of Jefferson & Madison

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