[MANUSCRIPT LEGAL DEPOSITION CONCERNING THE ESTATE OF JOHN L. BENNETT OF DALLAS COUNTY, ALABAMA]
1849·[Dallas County, possibly Selma]
[Dallas County, possibly Selma], 1849. pp. Folio. Sheets tied with ribbon at top edge. Old fold lines, minor wear and soiling. Chipping and wear to final leaf. Very good. This lengthy deposition reports the complaint of Henry Atwood and others against the estate of John L. Bennett, who upon moving into Alabama in the 1830s, built up a large slave-holding cotton plantation and incurred many debts which formed an entangled web of interests. The document requests a full inventory of slaves and property brought into Alabama by Bennett in 1834, a description of lands owned by Bennett in partnership with the "South Carolina or Elliott Land Company," and details several large loans taken by Bennett from individuals as well as the Bank of Alabama at Mobile. In order to settle debts, at one point a large group of named slaves and other items were confiscated and "sold said slaves...to the highest and best bidder for cash...so many slaves were necessary to pay off and satisfy and discharge the principal, interests and costs...about the sum of seven thousand dollars." There is a listing of the names of Bennett's slaves, about twenty-five of whom remained as part of the estate. A long and interesting narrative which includes much information on the legal mechanisms of the period, including the confiscation and sale of slaves. The document illustrates wonderfully how much of the "Cotton Kingdom" was built on a mountain of speculative debt, offering the possibility of big gains, but equally the chance of major losses.
(Inventory #: WRCAM51373)
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