Newport Historical Society buys letter of freed slave from 1821

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Rhode Island’s Newport Historical Society recently attained a unique artifact — a letter from 1821, written by a former slave named Newport Gardner. The organization, created in 1854 “to collect and preserve books, manuscripts, and objects pertaining to Newport’s history,” (according to its mission statement on newporthistorical.org) purchased the letter form an unidentified out-of-state collector. Turnto10.com reports on the full story:

PROVIDENCE — The Newport Historical Society has purchased an 1821 letter from a former slave who became one of Newport’s most notable free African American citizens.

The Newport Daily News reported that the letter was written by Newport Gardner.

Gardner was purchased and renamed by a local ship captain in 1760. He was the country’s first black music teacher, and led the Free African Union Society, believed to be the first association of African Americans in the country.

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