May 2, 1828 Letter from H. Webster to Brother Samuel Webster
Newport Red Oval (Old English Typeface)
(Scroll Down for Explanation of Rate, Cancel and Text of Letter)

10 cents was the rate for a single sheet letter weighing less than one ounce and traveling a distance between 30 and 80 miles, (Newport to Boston). The rate was set by the Postal Act of April 9, 1816 and became effective on May 1, 1816. This zone rate remained in effect until July 1, 1845. Newport, RI Oval Cancels are relatively rare and sought after cancels. This 41 x 34 mm Red Newport Oval is the "Old English Print" type and was in use from 1826 to 1830.
(See Also: 1824 Letter with Newport Green Oval "Regular Print" 1821-1829) 

The letter itself was written by H. Webster to his brother Samuel in Boston, while being held as a material witness in the murder trial of Alfred Knight, a fellow sailor on Webster's ship. Needless to say Mr. Webster is quite unhappy with his accommodations even though as he states, "They are paying him at $1.25 per day."
(A pretty decent amount for the times.)

I have reproduced the letter below with H. Webster's actual spelling, punctuation, and grammar - for instance: doe for do and whilst, etc.

Newport 2nd May 1828

Dear Brother,

          I  am now enclosed within the walls of a prison, and for what no offense whatever. I was confined here as a witness in the case of Alfred Knight against the U.S. or I mean the U.S. against Alfred Knight for murder whilst on board our vessel.

          This confinement appears very hard to one who never before was confined within the walls of a prison, to be sure I receive the recompense allowed by the Government $1.25 per day, but my liberty is dearer than all that for what is money compared with my liberty or what good doe I see of my life whilst in confinement. You should consider all this, and if you have any feeling within you, you will surely say my case is desperate.

          Now just as likely as not my relations expect that I am confined here for some crime or other, and may attach some blame to me but if they doe they are wrong for I am not here for any crime committed against the laws of my country but purely for safekeeping till the latter part of next June. The room in which I am confined is about 10 by 14 feet square no fireplace, and but poor lodgings.

          When I wrote you last I little thought of being confined in this solitary cell for it really deserves that appellation. It would give me much pleasure to see you, but I rather think it impractical for you to come to me but feel fully persuaded you will write me in answer to this and my other letter as soon as you receive it or them. My reasons for writing or addressing my letters to the care of Henry Chapman & Co. was that I was pretty sure you was still in their employ and you would be more likely to get sooner.

          I have no more to say at present, write how all the family is, and 

believe me to be your

Very Affectionate Brother

H. Webster


At some time during this letters lifespan; a recipe for some type of punch was written on the reverse of the cover as shown at left. The recipe contains 4 types of tea, one pepper, a dozen lemons, 10 pounds of sugar, cinnamon, and another ingredient that I couldn't make out.

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