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Middleton, Arthur (1742-1787) to Lyman Hall

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04821 Author/Creator: Middleton, Arthur (1742-1787) Place Written: Edgefield, South Carolina Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 1 March 1783 Pagination: 3 p. : docket ; 22.5 x 18.4 cm.

Asks Hall to resolve a debate over ownership of a slave. Mr. Melvin purchased a slave that had belonged to Middleton but had been captured by the British. When Middleton encountered the slave he claimed it as his own, since it had been wrongfully stolen from him. Melvin appears to want full value in exchange for the slave, while Middleton believes he owes only a fraction of this. Paper border around letter. Written at Cedar Grove Plantation.

Lyman Hall was the Governor of Georgia and previously served in the Continental Congress, where he signed the Declaration of Independence. Arthur Middleton was also signer of the Declaration of Independence, and served as President of the Continental Congress from 1774-1775.

Cedar Grove March 1.st 1783.
By desire of Mr. Melvin, I take the Liberty of troubling your Excellency with the relation of a Circumstance which respects him & myself - Soon after my return home, I met upon the road, & took possession of, a Negroe fellow, who is my property, & had been carried off by the Enemy - . Mr. Melvin laid claim to him, alledging he had purchased him in Georgia, where he was condemned & sold, under the assumed name of Ben, as part of the Cargo of a prize Vessel captured by the Brig Edward, owned by Mr. Ogden of No. Carolina, & commanded by a Cap. Samuell [Goodine]; Mr. Melvin further alledges that the Negroe was known to be my property at the time of sale, & that he bid for him with Intention of offering him to me - I cannot [2] help observing, that I never should have expeted [sic] such unkind usage from a Court of Admiralty in Georgia, being conscious of having endeavoured to conduct myself both in private & publick Life, in such a way as to merit Milder treatment - I have refused to deliver up the Negroe to Mr. Melvin, & shall keep possession of him, knowing that there is, in my favour, a Clause of an Ordinance of Congress, passed in December 1781, by which the recaptor is only entitled to a "reasonable Salvage not exceeding ¼ of the value" which Salvage I shall willingly pay, when it is properly demanded - Mr. Melvin says he gave £50. sterling for the fellow, & I imagine his desire of my acquainting your Excellency with the fact, [ames] from an Expectation of your Interference & good Offices in getting the money refunded; to effect which I doubt not you will be stimulated by that [3] Love of Equity, Justice, & good Government which I have long known you to possess - wishing you health, and an easy seat
I have the honour to be
Your Excellency's
Obedient and
very hble Servant
A Middleton
His Excellency
Lyman Hall Esquire.

A: Middleton
Claim of a Negroe.
Cont[ested]. by George Melvin

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