A Deed to an Enslaved Person Named Charles

Collection ID







Washington, DC (United States)




Ink on paper


13.4 × 16.1 × 0.03 in. (34 × 41 × 0.1 cm)

Exhibit Location

Not on View

This manuscript documents the sale of an enslaved person in Washington, DC. On March 11, 1818, Charles R. Belt, the owner of the Chevy Chase Plantation, sold "a negro man named Charles" to John K. Smith for $700. Other than the knowledge that Charles was a black man around twenty-eight years old, nothing else is known about him or what became of him. Research indicates that Smith was potentially a slave trader in the Georgetown region. The sale is witnessed by James Corcoran and Thomas Corcoran, a former mayor of Georgetown.

Created on March 11, 1818, by Charles R. Belt (d. 1881), Washington, DC;[1] Received on March 12, 1818, by William Brent, clerk, Washington, DC.[2] Purchased between 1981 and 2014 by Andrew Stimer, private collector, Camarillo, California; Privately purchased in 2014 by Green Collection, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Donated in 2017 to National Christian Foundation (later The Signatry), under the curatorial care of Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC.

Notes: [1] Research indicates that the enslaved person was named George Bowie. “Rambler Continues Story of Slave Owners and Slaves in District,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), June 19, 1927, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1927-06-19/ed-1/seq-70/. [2] One panel on the manuscript is signed by William Brent and states, “received 12th March 1818.”

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