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1776.02.15 — Charles Phelps Sr. to Charles Phelps Jr., February 15, 1776

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1776.02.15 — Charles Phelps Sr. to Charles Phelps Jr., February 15, 1776


This document, dated Feb 15th, 1776 was sent from N. Marlborough, Massachusetts by Charles Phelps Sr. to his son Charles Phelps Jr. in Hadley, Massachusetts. Mr. Phelps proposes to his son that his son send to him an enslaved man, Cesar, for the summer. Within the letter, Charles Sr. heavily focuses on a physical limitation that the enslaved person is dealing with: a lame hand. Mr. Phelps suggests that he can build tools that may fit Cesar’s hand so as to make Cesar profitable to the family and assist in his rehabilitation process. Mr. Phelps promises to take care of Carther and hopes to incentivize Cesar's return to work by offering Cesar the opportunity to make money for himself. Mr. Phelps suggests that Peg’s refusal to grant Cesar “his former indulgences” is exacerbating his resistance to returning to work as he deals with his injury.


Charles Phelps Sr.


Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers (Box 2, Folder 2)
University of Massachusetts Special Collections and University Archives




Public domain





Dear Son being in good health and all our family through kind providence as we hope you all are and all other friends upon your proposal to me to take your Negroman on as I flatter my self I can fit tools to his lame hand that if he is but willing to work in well as he may in reason which with gentleness and encouraging motives for his own profit I flatter myself can induce him to to a further degree of usefulness then at present but I am sure he may be more profitable to me if he shows incline to do what he is capable of doing in my family then in yours--I can persuaded that he is more peevish and fretfull in Peg’s resistance of his former indulgences and freedoms with her then other wise he would that she is a pernicious temptation and incitement to him to a number of vices by her peremtory denial and resistance of his those former gratifications----Mr. Mathers Negroman would be exceeding glad to have Cesar come to live with me and he would be an agreeable associate for your negro which they delight in as well as white people--more over a continuance of the non use of his lame hand will so contract the sinner [illegible] as to render him further remote of a cure or recovery in any degree and by how much the more he is indulged in idleness the through necessity from the inability of that lame hand it not improving his health and vigor given greater scope to and nourishes his impure inclinations to the interdicted object as abounds but idleness with high living pampers every vicious inclination. Even in the best young people then judge as how much more so in him so depraved as he and all others of that Nation are when in the full viggor of life with such high living as you give him ------ if he comes I shall spare no pains to [?] him to labour from Gentleness and persuasion tho he should be untoward for if he can’t be in a grate measure recovered he will be intirely unprofitable to you and a heathen to the Creation: and your loss may be very grate. There for all possible means ought to be wisely and prudently used to recover That hand to use and exercise by a fitting of tools to it and encouraging him to use it. And perchance him to labor as far as he can be enabled from his own person Profit and advantage therefor I shall Give him advantages to make some sugar for himself to sell for money and other ways if he should live here this summer to make money to himself that I think I can by such motives induce him to try to become usefull and a profit to himself

My Dear son from your affectionate father C: Phelps my love to sister your loving spouse and Dolley and all friends your mother likes to send hers to you all--

N Marlborough Feb 15 1776