Rio de Janeiro: 1826. Envelope or Cover. This three-page stampless folded letter is dated November 8th, 1826 and annotated, “Single” and “Ship”. It was addressed to the author’s mother in Philadelphia in “care of S. B. Pawle Esq. / Merchant / S. Front St”. The letter was carried by the brig Lyon to Providence, Rhode Island where it received a red “SHIP” handstamp, circular postmark dated February 5th,.and a manuscript “20¾” postal rate marking (18¾ cents for postage plus a two-cent ship fee). It is in nice shape with a few short splits along mailing folds. A transcript will be provided. Ruschenberger packed an incredible about of detail about Brazil and South America into this fascinating letter. He discusses · Don Pedro, the Emperor of Brazil and King of Portugal, who lived just outside of Rio de Janeiro, and had just finished arranging the marriage of his seven-year old daughter to his brother, · “3000 german soldiers” Don Pedro received from the Emperor of Austria and the “successful war . . . which he is carrying out against Buenos Ayers, · Pedro’s wife, “a fine fat dutch girl”, · Brazilian churches, “splendid edifices literally lined with gold & silver & waxen saints”, · Cheap dry goods, “coffee is 10 cents a pound sugar six – Flour twelve dollars a barrel!” · and Simon Bolivar, who “has declared himself Emperor of Chile & Peru. How little can men be trusted. . .. A dozen bayonets were forced through his bed a few minutes after he had arisen. this shows how his Declaration is received.” Most compelling is his description of Brazilian slavery: “A method of riding here is in a sedan . . . carried by two slaves each resting an end on his shoulder & this the ladies are transported to & fro enveloped in velvet. . .. The negro slaves . . . are, for the most part, nearly naked. They are always chattering like so many monkeys, even when alone & if they carry a heavy burden they Sing the whole way. The slave market is detestable . . . I saw about 500 hundred for sale who have been here about 80 days, such a sight I never before witnessed. The poor naked devils are thin and emaciated & many of them sick. They are put into a room furnished with benches & paved with stone & when just in are counted like sheep driven into a sheep fold by a savage looking villain, a Portuguese, who touches each with a stick. In this way I saw 132 driven into a room . . . & what is still more strange the infernal negroes of the town scoff at them as they pass. I saw a Lady with her train at the market bargaining for a slave as unconcernedly as I would or a pair of gloves.”. Very good. Item #009395
An amazing firsthand account of slavery and politics in early 19th century South America by a young surgeon’s mate who would become one of the most senior medical officers in the U.S. Navy and as a leader in Philadelphia’s scientific and medical associations.