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Smith, Paschal Nelson (d. 1805) to Henry Knox

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.01468 Author/Creator: Smith, Paschal Nelson (d. 1805) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 27 June 1782 Pagination: 2 p. : address : docket ; 23.4 x 18.8 cm.

Summary of Content: Smith, who appears to be a Boston merchant, writes to Major General Knox about a missing servant. Says about 3 weeks ago, while he was on a tour of Connecticut, "a Molatto Servant Boy of mine named Prince, 18 Years of Age went off, & by the best information I can get he is gone to the Army, as a Recruit & I imagine some officer has persuaded him away as a waiter." Says Knox might remember Prince from his last visit to Boston. Describes him as "5 feet 9 Inches tall, & very Slender, & black Woolly Hair." Says other officers from Boston will remember him. Asks that if Prince is apprehended, that he be put in jail until he can make arrangements to get him. Says Prince "is a Slave by Birth, & sold to me as such, but as it is not consistant with my principals to keep a Slave, I promis'd him soon after I bought him, that if he would serve me Cheerfully & faithfully Seven Years he should have his Freedom." Says he knows the army needs servants, but that he pays his taxes and does not need to give the army anything else. Postscript says there is no news nor late accounts of his brother William. Also says that Prince might have joined "the Negro Regiment," as he was informed he met with an officer from that regiment several times before he ran off.

Background Information: Smith owned stock in the Ohio Company in 1796.

Full Transcript: Boston June 27th. 1782
Dear Sir
about a negro boy
Knowing your willingness to oblige, I do not hesitate in asking a favour of you. about three weeks ago, while I ...was from Home on a tour to Connecticut, a Molatto Servant Boy of mine named Prince, 10 Years of Age went off, & by the best information I can get he is gone to the Army, as a Recruit & I imagine some officer has persuaded him away as a waiter. You may possibly remember the Boy as he lived with me when you was last in Town, he is about 5 feet 9 Inches tall, & very Slender & black Woolly Hair. Major Shaw, Capt. Lilley, Major Gibbs & several others Officers from Boston I think will recollect him. If you can find him out you will do me a great favour by Securing him in Goal or some safe place till you give me advice thereof, I suppose he must be musterd after he arrives at Camp, at the Office where they pass you may gain some intelligence of him. - He is a Slave by Birth, & sold to me as such, but as it is not consistant with my principals to keep a Slave, I promis'd him soon after I bought him, that if he would serve [2] serve me Cheerfully & faithfully Seven Years he should have his Freedom, & I thought he fully intended to have done it. - It is very probable he will change his name - I am sensible that Recruits are much wanted to fill up our Army, but I cannot think it just, or that the Rulers of the Country wish to take away the Servants of men, who to say the least pay their full proportion towards filling the Army & every other Tax, if they do not, I rely on it there will be no difficulty [inserted: in] getting my Servant out of the Army if he should be found in it. -
I hope this will find you & Mrs. Knox with the Children in perfect good health. Mrs. Smith & our little folks are very well as is Mr. & Mrs. Sears & the Family, we all join in the best Compliments to you & Lady. - I am with great Regard
Dear Sir -
Your most huml. Servt -
Paschal N. Smith
P.S. We have no publick news here
nor any late account of your
Brother -
I think it very likely Prince will
Join the Negro Regiment as I have
been inform'd he was with an officer of
that Regiment Several times just before
he went off. -
Major General Knox

[address leaf]
The Hon.
Major General Knox
Near
Head Quarters

[docket]
From PN Smith Esqr. 27 June
1782.
See More

People: Smith, Paschal Nelson, d. 1805
Knox, Henry, 1750-1806
Knox, William, 1756-1795

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: African American HistoryRevolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralMilitary HistoryRunaway SlaveSlaveryContinental ArmyRecruitmentIndentured ServantTaxes or TaxationFinanceAfrican American Troops

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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