Rhode Island Stampless
Covers & Letters
January 29, 1789 Cover from Champion &
Dickason - London, England
To Brown and Benson - Merchants - Providence Rhode Island
Letter appended on February 16 and resent via Captain Daumau
(Scroll Down for Background History and Text of Letter)
The cover has a 1788-89 Brown/Black
Boston Straight Line Cancel with a
Franklin Mark "4 MA"
(for May 4th).
There is a Manuscript Ship Rate
at top right of 1.16
Pennyweight (1 dwt)
and 16 grains ( 16 gr)
of coined silver)
for the 1788 Continental Rate
of 3 pence for mail traveling less than 60 miles
(Boston to Providence)
and an additional 2 pence for a
letter arriving by ship.
of Nicholas Brown and Company was renamed
Brown and Benson after George Benson joined the company.
The original firm was founded by the four Brown brothers;
Nicholas Sr., Joseph, John,
and Moses. After the death of Nicholas Sr.
in 1790, his son Nicholas
Brown, Jr. took over the reins of the firm which was then joined
by his sister's husband Thomas Poynton Ives and in
1791 the firm became known as Brown and Ives.
In 1764 Nicholas Brown
and Company fitted out the brig Sally,
(Commanded by Esek Hopkins - later
Commander in Chief of the fledgling Continental Navy)
and entered the slave trade. The voyage
was a disaster with 88 African slaves dying during the Atlantic
crossing. The majority of the Brown family quit the slave trade
with the exception of John who continued in the trade until the
early 19th century. The Brown family shipped goods world-wide
and in 1787 John Brown's "General
Washington" became the
first Rhode Island ship to enter the
The 1789 letter text
reproduced below indicates some financial difficulties for the
Brown firm, however it must be remembered that the "War of
Independence" had just been fought and that Great
Britain did not formally sign a treaty recognizing that
independence until November 30, 1782. During the war, American
commerce had also suffered greatly due to the British blockade
of the Eastern Seaboard ports and by 1787 a deep depression had
set in. In addition, it wasn't until a month after this second
letter was mailed that the United States elected it's first
President; George Washington on March 4, 1789.
financial institutions were just starting up, our new congress
was meeting and laws for the new republic were being drawn up as
this letter was being drafted. The firm of Brown and
Benson//Brown and Ives went on to become one of the most
successful American companies of the 19th Century.
This duplicate copy of the earlier
January 29 1789 letter was written and appended with additional
material on February 16, 1789. (SEE:
It was sent separately by a different ship than the first
The Text of the Letter Follows Below:
Msrs Brown &
29 Jan 1789
Above is Copy of our last since Msrs Lauchou &
Co. have remitted us Livres 3013.19.0 in Two
Bills on Paris, which went over immediately
and we are advised they
were accepted. 7/8 of their produce will
therefore be in due time placed to your credit
within present year.
they advise us is the balance of your accts.
with them and
tho we cannot have the satisfaction of hearing
from you we Cannot will not doubt, that
something by way of remittance is on the way.
You must have observed with what delicacy we
have avoided pressing you with repeated
Importunity, this with gentlemen of honor in
which light we have always considered you,
should have its true weight and we trust it
will. The fore stated,
(I believe this refers to an earlier
will merely Cement in the general union, which
must be mutually advantageous to the whole
and from which circumstance undoubtedly
efficient laws will result and these will
doubtless enable you to recover the long
withheld property of your house which must be
great from your larger Connections.
(Most likely refers to
company property; ships, etc seized by the
British Government during the war.)
Msrs Burgess letter, we received last came too
late to include the final settlement of ship Hope in
the last year in our Books, we have therefore sent
him the current open, as it stood with our signature
and have requested he would fill it in and strike a
balance with you to which you will be pleased to
make your books agree and signify your word to us.
We shall only add our request that we may hear from
your best wishes that you may enjoy the return of
many happy & successful years with our Company.
The second Half of letter
was written 17 days later on February 16th
and continues in
the same vein.
View Full Size
an interesting part in
the second section that states
sincerely hope your vessel gone on a whaling
voyage to the
Cape of Good Hope will be fortunate."
state that whale oil is selling from
"60 to 57.10 pounds the lowest."
The History of Brown
and Ives with Brown family Genealogy
1834 Brown & Ives Letter from
1852 Brown & Ives Letter from
Baring Brothers - London, England
(With Brown Family Chronology)