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Letters concerning the slave trade and the USS John Adams

Identifier: MS 0083
Finding aid note: Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center.

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the letters are from Commander Powell in Rio de Janeiro to Commodore Storer, written between July and September of 1849, and concern preparations to carry out his orders to “proceed without delay to the Coast of Africa,” and to suppress the slave trade. Powell comments on the ship’s condition and the status of provisions, and comments on receipt of the “new guns.” In October 1849 Powell reports that “a slaver” had made port northeast of Rio and transferred slaves to a waiting steamer. He also comments briefly on conditions on the Rio de la Plata, and in Montevideo, Uruguay.

In addition, the correspondence contains Powell's detailed report on the test comparison of the naval nand 32 pounder guns.


  • Creation: 1842-1849

Access Restrictions

This material is open for research.

Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish from this material may be obtained at the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University,

Biographical Sketch

The USS John Adams was built in 1799. She served in the Barbary Wars, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, and the Civil War. The U.S. Navy sold it in 1867. At the time of these letters the ship was commanded by Commander Levin M. Powell and attached to U.S. Naval Forces, Coast of Brazil, under Commodore George W. Storer.

The Letters contained within this collection are between Powell and Storer, and they discuss Powell's orders, including an order to suppress the slave trade to Brazil, as well as the ships condition, supply levels, and observations about the locales visited.


0.1 Linear Feet ( (1 folder))

Language of Materials



This manuscript collection contains a series of letters written from Commander Levin M. Powell of the USS John Adams to Commodore George W. Storer. Powell comments on the ships supplies and condition, his sailing orders, and the slave trade, while the ship was off the coast of Brazil, near Rio de Janeiro.

Source of Acquisition

This manuscript collection was acquired through a manuscripts dealer in the 1960s.

Related Material

USS Adams Logbook held by the Woodson Research Center is not the same ship as this USS John Adams. This ship was built in 1799 and sold in 1867. The logbook of the USS John Adams indicates it was not built until 1876. It is not unusual for the U.S. Navy to give the same name, such as USS Saratoga or USS Bon Homme Richard, to succeeding generations of its ships.

Guide to the Letters concerning the slave trade and the USS John Adams, 1842-1849
John G. Marks
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA