This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the Duplication Policy section for more information.
|Size||1.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 550 items)|
|Abstract||John Perkins, cotton planter and lawyer of Somerset Plantation, Ashwood, La., was appointed judge of the Circuit Court for Madison Parish in 1851; served as Democratic representative from Louisiana in the U.S. Congress, 1853-1855; represented Madison Parish in the permanent Confederate Congress at Richmond, Va., 1862-1865; and emigrated to Mexico in 1865 where he worked as a colonization agent. In 1866, Perkins moved to Paris and thereafter travelled extensively in Europe and in Canada before returning to the United States in 1878. The collection includes correspondence, financial, legal, and other papers primarily documenting the political and financial interests of John Perkins. Some papers reveal Perkins's financial and personal relationship with his father, but there is little other material related to his personal or family life. Correspondence about politics is especially heavy for 1853 to 1855, the years of Perkins's service in the U.S. Congress. Civil War materials include correspondence about Confederate government business and letters from soldiers requesting assistance with transfers and discharges from the Confederate Army. Most of the postwar correspondence concerns Perkins's emigration to Mexico and work as a colonization agent there. Other correspondence concerns the management of Perkins's Somerset and other plantations in Louisiana in the 1850s and 1870s and Cottonwood Plantation, Ellis County, Tex., in the 1860s.|
|Creator||Perkins, John, 1819-1885.|
The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.
Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.
John Perkins (1819-1885), a Louisiana planter and lawyer, was born in Natchez, Mississippi, 1 July 1819. His parents were Mary Bynum Perkins and John Perkins, Sr. (fl. 1819-1867). Perkins was educated by private tutors and graduated from Yale College in 1840 and Harvard Law School in 1842. Admitted to the bar in 1843, he practiced law in New Orleans for four years. He relinquished his law practice to become a cotton planter. He resided at Somerset Plantation, Ashwood, Louisiana. He apparently owned a cottage at White Sulphur Springs in Virginia.
Active in local politics, Perkins was appointed judge of the Circuit Court for Madison Parish in 1851. Perkins served as Democratic representative from Louisiana to the United States Congress in 1853-1855. As chairman of the state secession convention in 1861, Perkins wrote Louisiana's secession ordinance. In the provisional Confederate Congress, Perkins served on the Printing and Foreign Affairs Committees and assisted in drafting the Constitution. He also represented Madison Parish in the permanent Confederate Congress at Richmond in 1862-1865. He generally supported the administration, and served on the Foreign Affairs, Rules, Ways and Means, and Commerce Committees.
In 1865, Perkins migrated to Mexico, where he was made colonization agent. In 1866 he moved to Paris and thereafter travelled extensively in Europe and in Canada. He returned to the United States in 1878. Perkins died in Baltimore, Maryland, 28 November 1885.Back to Top
This collection contains correspondence, financial, and legal papers, and other papers which document primarily the political and financial interests of John Perkins. Some papers reveal Perkins's financial and personal relationship with his father but little other material related to his personal life or family may be found here. Correspondence about politics is found especially in 1853-1855, the years of Perkins's service in the U. S. Congress, and somewhat in later years. Correspondence about the Confederate army and other Confederate government business is found in 1861-April 1865. Most of the correspondence of the years immediately following the Civil War is about Perkins's emigration to Mexico and work as a colonization agent there. Other correspondence is about management of Perkins's plantations in Louisiana in the 1850s and 1870s and in Texas in the 1860s. Other papers include drafts of speeches, a petition to make Confederate notes legal tender, and clippings.Back to Top
Correspondence and legal papers, mostly of Mrs. Mary B. Eskridge, relating to settlement of the estate of Mary Bynum Perkins. Mary B. Eskridge was the daughter of Mary Bynum Perkins and half sister of John Perkins.
Correspondence, financial, and legal papers of John Perkins. Most of the material in this subseries is correspondence. Political topics dominate in the earlier part of the subseries and personal business predominates in the later years.
Only a few items date from before Perkins's election to Congress in 1852. A copy of the election returns, dated 1 December 1853, listing the vote for Perkins and for his opponent in each of the 16 parishes of Louisiana's third Congressional district may be found here. Letters from the years of Perkins's service in Congress (1853-1855) include many letters about the situation of the slaveholding states. Prominent among the writers of these letters was A. Dudley Mann, who wrote frequently to Perkins about sectionalism and politics. Mann's letters disclose his support for George Dallas for President of the United States and his advocacy of American annexation of Cuba.
Other letters to Perkins discuss the diplomatic and consular bill in which he apparently had an interest. Sam. Ricker wrote two letters both dated 24 April 1854 to Perkins from Frankfort on the Main about the American consular establishment there and about Europeans' views of the United States.
Although several of Perkins's correspondents urged him to run for re-election to Congress, he did not do so. Some letters on political subjects, however, continue to appear after 1855. In 1856, for example, there are several letters about that year's presidential campaign. A letter of 2 July 1856 from Judah P. Benjamin comments on the presidential candidates. In a printed letter of 28 September 1856 to Dr. Delony and others, Perkins stated his views on the coming election and said that if Fremont were elected the Union could not and ought not to continue. Perkins continued to receive letters from A. Dudley Mann in 1856.
Also of note is a letter of 14 January 1856 from Jefferson Davis to Perkins in which Davis, then Secretary of War, reported that he had been unable to persuade the president to appoint Perkins's friend to a government job in Kansas and that he seemed often unable to get appointments for his friends. Letters from Jefferson Davis's brother, J. E. Davis, also appear in this subseries. These letters contain news of family and friends, of his attendance at a Clay barbecue, and of a measles epidemic in Louisville, as well as political news.
Material from the late 1850s centers on family and plantation news. Letters from John Perkins, Sr., and from R. I. Perkins document the personal and financial relationship between Perkins and his father. A letter of 23 April 1857 from John Perkins, Sr., to E. G. W. Butler includes an appraisal of his Somerset estate and his division of his estate.
Letters from Perkins's plantation manager, William Rhodes, at Somerset in July and August 1857 report on the crops, progress of work, and a proposed purchase of slaves there. Rhodes also enclosed letters from the overseers at Perkins's other plantations. These and letters of 1859 and 1860 from overseers J. M. Stanbrough and J. J. Smiley at Homestead, Lewis Carter at Viamede, and A. M. Taylor at Backland, report on conditions at those plantations. E. F. Furniss also wrote to "cousin John" about the plantations.
A few financial papers are interfiled with the correspondence. Most of these are bills from or accounts with Washington Jackson & Co. of New Orleans. In 1860, there are a few accounts for the sale of cotton with W & D Urquhart, New Orleans, and shipping documents from Davenport & Drake, Commission Merchants, of St. Louis.
Correspondence and other material of John Perkins about business of the Confederate government and in 1863 about Perkins's Cottonwood Plantation in Ellis County, Texas. Many of the letters in this subseries are from Confederate soldiers requesting assistance in getting transferred from one regiment to another or in getting discharged from the army. Few letters describe camp life or military action. A notable letter of 23 December 1862 from Thomas D. Day, aide to Brigadier General D. M. Frost, written to Perkins from a camp near Van Buren, Arkansas, describes recent military engagements in Arkansas.
Other items concerning Confederate government business include some letters about legislation on passports in 1861 and 1862 and auditors' reports in 1863 and 1864 about settlement of claim for arrears of pay due from the Confederate States to deceased officers and soldiers.
Letters from Henry Pannill and G. W. Smith to John Perkins in 1863 and 1864 report on weather, work, overseers, slaves, and stock at Cottonwood Plantation in Ellis County, Texas.
Chiefly letters, reports, financial papers, maps, and other material of John Perkins related to his emigration to Mexico and his work as a colonization agent for the Mexican government. Notable among these are a copy of the "Decreto Imperial de 5 de Septiembre de 1865, para Fomenta La Immigracion," and a copy of a report dated 24 November 1865 from Sterling Price, Isham Harris, and John Perkins to M. F. Maury, Imperial Commissioner of Colonization, on land owned by the Government in the district of Cordova in the state of Vera Cruz. Several letters concern American immigrants' efforts to get title to Mexican lands. Also included is an agreement between John Perkins, Nicholas Read, and William Dechent to establish a coffee plantation near Cordoba.
A few items in this subseries relate to John Perkins's personal and financial interests in the United States. There are, for example, John Perkins, Sr.'s, petition, dated 18 December 1865, to revoke the gift of Somerset Plantation because his son had not lived up to the terms of the gift and letters dated 18 September 1866 from E. D. Farrar and F. H. Farrar urging Perkins to return to Louisiana.
Letters, legal papers, and other materials of John Perkins. Papers, 1868-1872, about the estate of John Perkins, Sr., are filed here. Although a few letters are addressed to John Perkins in Paris, there is little documentation here of Perkins's life in Europe between 1866 and 1878. Four letters of 1878 from J. Stanbrough to John Perkins report on crops and conditions at Hapaca Plantation and advise Perkins not to come there because of a yellow fever epidemic. Of special interest in this subseries is a printed advertisement of John Swallow, New York, offering to sell counterfeit money and an accompanying letter recruiting dealers to sell counterfeit money.
Undated letters, notes, and fragments.
Apparently drafts of speeches made in the 1850s. Subjects are Perkins's service in Congress, Know-Nothingism, and the political crisis in the United States.
Several copies with many signatures attached of a petition to the Senate and House of Representatives of the Confederate States of America asking them to adopt Confederate notes as legal tender.
Arrangement: roughly chronological.
Newspapers clippings, apparently collected from a variety of newspapers by John Perkins about subjects of interest to him. Some of the clippings contain social news but most are about sectionalism and politics. Clippings from 1847 1861 especially give political news--news of abolitionist meetings in northern states, election returns, speeches. There is a group of clippings of 1872 headed "European Correspondence of the Savannah Republican." Three articles from the New Orleans Democrat of 17 July, 24 July and 7 August 1880 are headed "Two Decades of Louisiana, 1860-1880."
Processed by: Linda Sellars, October 1990
Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008
Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, December 2009Back to Top