Thomas Robison from Thomas Hodges regarding illegal slave trade, Les Cayes, April 6, 1791

Contributed by Maine Historical Society


In 1791, Thomas Hodges left his father-in-law's ship, the Eagle, in the care of its captain at Îles De Los, Guinea. He traveled to Aux Cayes, Hispaniola (present day Les Cayes, Haiti), where he sold a cargo of African slaves and wrote a letter to his father-in-law, Thomas Robison of Portland, Maine.

This letter sheds some light on the decisions made by Thomas Hodges as he skirted the law in order to sell slaves on Robison's behalf. Since the French colony of Hispaniola did not accept slaves from American ships, Hodges chartered a French vessel to gain access to the port of Aux Cayes. After selling the slaves, Hodges hesitated to return to America with the cash proceeds. He had to decide whether to invest the money in expensive sugar or cheap coffee. West Indian sugar would be used to produce rum at Robison's distillery in Portland, while coffee could be sold to Portland's residents.

Hodges letter includes a postscript referring to his wife Jane, who was Thomas Robison's second daughter.

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About This Item

  • Title: Thomas Robison from Thomas Hodges regarding illegal slave trade, Les Cayes, April 6, 1791
  • Creator: Hodges, Thomas
  • Creation Date: 1791-04-06
  • Subject Date: 1791
  • Town: Les Cayes, Portland
  • County: Cumberland
  • State: ME
  • Media: Ink on paper
  • Local Code: Coll. 5, Box 2/7
  • Collection: Robison family papers
  • Object Type: Text

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For more information about this item, contact:

Maine Historical Society
485 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774-1822 x230

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