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 (one 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.

The firm 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 "China Trade."

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.

Separate American 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: Postscript) It was sent separately by a different ship than the first letter.
The Text of the Letter Follows Below:
Msrs Brown & Benson                                                                               London 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. 

This remittance, 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 letter) 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 P.S.
There is an interesting part in the second section that states “we sincerely hope your vessel gone on a whaling voyage to the Cape of Good Hope will be fortunate." They further state that whale oil is selling from "60 to 57.10 pounds the lowest."

                                           Your most humble Sr.

                                           Champion & Dickason

See also: 
The History of Brown and Ives with Brown family Genealogy 
1834 Brown & Ives Letter from Amsterdam Factor
1852 Brown & Ives Letter from Baring Brothers - London, England
(With Brown Family Chronology)

RI Historical Society
Stampless I
Stampless II

Stampless III
Stampless IV
Stampless V
Stampless VI
Brown & Ives Letters
The Hazard Family Letters
Joseph Tillinghast
Free Franked Letters
DeWolf Family Letters

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