The True Blue and Venus
The August 16, 1759 edition of the Maryland Gazette announced the arrival of the slave ship True Blue, it also announced the arrival of a second slave ship, Venus. The True Blue and Venus carried 240 and 130 slaves from Africa respectively. There had never before been two slave ships from Africa on the Potomac River, during the slave trade, and it would not happen again.
During their stay here, all the men, women, and children from the True Blue were sold in Nanjemoy, mostly to large Virginia planters seeking the slave labor they needed to expand westward, while avoiding the taxes imposed by Virginia on the direct importation of Africans. Some of the slaves from the Venus were sold here others later on the Rappahannock. John Champe, a merchant and planter from Lamb’s Creek in King George County, Virginia, handled the sales for the True Blue. John Tayloe II, a wealthy Northern Neck planter who owned land in Nanjemoy, and Scottish merchant, Archibald Ritchie, who lived in Tappahannock , handled the sale of the Venus cargo.
This painting shows the True Blue in the foreground and Venus on the right. They are at anchorage off the District One Naval Station near present day Newburg, Maryland. It was near here that Blenheim stood, the magnificent home of Squire Richard Lee, Captain of the District One Naval Station. Squire Lee was the son of the scion of the Maryland branch of the Lee family who were so prominent in the history of Virginia. During the Colonial era the British required all trade with her North American colonies be carried in British ships and go through British ports. The smaller craft shown are ferries that operated among various points on the Maryland and Virginia shores in and around this anchorage and Port Tobacco. This ferry landing was a key point for North-South travel in the Colonies throughout the pre-Revolutionary War period. Oil on canvas 24x40 inches