Description

    The Financial Panic of 1837: Three Letters of the Period. This lot contains three letters from the Post Master of Boydton, Virginia, P. Rainey, addressed to John Bennett of Petersburg, Illinois. The letters deal with investments, slavery, politics and the economy. Perhaps the most interesting of the three was written during the depths of the Panic of 1837, a dire period in U. S. financial history. The first letter is dated January 10, 1837. "...I think when your state becomes more densely populated & the citizens more wealthy that you may expect land to sell as high as in any state of the Union... I intend to have a sum of money... which I intend to invest in Western lands... it is perfect folly to vest money in Land & Negroes here... [Sandy Boyd] is selling salt at $15 per sack & flour at $22.50 per barrel!... I am pretty well done with Politicks. I intend hereafter to stand off & look on to see how the D...d fools and rascals will manage the government & Cheat the people. I am d-d glad there is not another Genl. Jackson, for if there were it would be a case with us. I think that Van [Buren] will have to walk the seam for at least the next 4 years..." He ends the letter talking about the sale of tobacco and a "bursting colt" who is "... no racer, I fear... Tobacco is selling lower than it has for 3 years. Negro men are hiring from 105 to $125. Fields Estate averaged for fellows (boatmen & c. included) upwards of $125! The people are mad." The second letter was written during the height of the crisis on June 27, 1837. "...T. A. Bennett [declined to go to New York after] seeing how dull every kind business was & the great scarcity of money. I too advised him to make no more debts, return & sell all he could of the old stock of goods, bond the debt & collect if possible & wait until we see what is to be the final result of the 'better' currency... I see from the Sangamo Jouranl that you are to have an extra session of the Legislature (as we had) to protect your Bank. We have Bentons & yellow Jackets now with a Vengeance... I have never seen business so completely prostrated... it is almost impossible to collect a dollar, to borrow is out of the question." He goes on to discuss developing a new town in Illinois at a later date, crops destroyed by drought and the "Chinese bug" and injured and lost livestock. In the letter dated March 17, 1839, Rainey discusses not having an overseer at his plantation and plans to invest in silk farming. He wants to sell off his properties in Arkansas. "I have no confidence in the Country or its people." Other topics include possible division of his county, poor farming methods, prices for bacon, tobacco and herring. "... I have no doubt our worn out country will adopt the silk culture... it will be some time before the people can be dragged out of old habits... the time will be when this country will raise more silk & more sugar (from beets in your state & others) than all the rest of the country."

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    Auction Dates
    May, 2011
    21st Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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