Monroe Edwards was an American slave trader, forger, and criminal. Originally from Kentucky, Edwards moved to New Orleans then settled in Texas. He smuggled slaves into Brazil in 1832 and used the proceeds to purchase land in Texas in 1836. Edwards’ largest swindle involved forged letters from cotton brokers in New Orleans. Convicted partly because his distinctive good looks made him memorable and easily recognizable.
About Monroe Edwards in brief
Monroe Edwards was an American slave trader, forger, and criminal who was the subject of a well-publicized trial and conviction in 1842. Originally from Kentucky, Edwards moved to New Orleans then settled in Texas. He smuggled slaves into Brazil in 1832 and used the proceeds to purchase land in Texas in 1836. Edwards’ largest swindle involved forged letters from cotton brokers in New Orleans which he used to secure bank drafts for large sums that he then cashed. Convicted partly because his distinctive good looks made him memorable and easily recognizable, and partly from making the same spelling errors in his fakes. Edwards was sentenced to 10 years in prison and died in 1847 while incarcerated. Several sensational accounts of his offenses and trial were published after his death, and he was mentioned in Herman Melville’s 1853 short story “Bartleby, the Scrivener”. Edwards was born in 1808 in Danville, Kentucky. He had a brother Amos and an uncle, Haden, who lived in Nacogdoches. As a grown man, he was considered very handsome, and usually dressed fashionably. Some accounts give him the title “Colonel”. Around 1822, Edwards met a slave trader and joined his new acquaintance on a smuggling trip to acquire slaves in Africa.
Unconnected with his slave trading, Edwards was arrested in 18 32 as part of the Anahuac Disturbances, and was briefly imprisoned during the uprising against the Mexican government which ruled Texas. In 1835, Edwards’ next partner, Christopher Dart, invested USD 40,000 to buy the contracts of indentured blacks in Cuba and smuggle them into Texas as slaves. In February 1836 Edwards landed 170 black people in Texas, taking advantage of the confusion surrounding the end of the Texas Revolution and the establishment of the independent Republic of Texas. Although the newly formed Texas Republic eventually outlawed the importation of slaves from anywhere but the U.S., Edwards’ landing of slaves in early 1836 was never prosecuted. Instead of providing money for the partnership, Edwards’ contribution was land certificates. Edwards also established a slave market on present-day San Leon Bay, near Galveston Bay, in 1837. He was sued by Robert Peebles for fraud involving the sale of a slave, but he won the case. Instead he tried to deal with the change between the slaves of the slave market.