Media: Slideshow

Slave Inventory

"List of Negro Men & Boys, also their ages & value"

This is the first page of a nine-page 1849 inventory that lists the 136 enslaved people—including 92 men and boys, and 44 women and children—at Wilton sugar plantation in Saint James Parish, Louisiana. The Virginia planters James Coles Bruce and James Alexander Seddon owned this plantation jointly with Dr. William Webb Wilkins of Louisiana. All three men were related by marriage. The inventory includes the ages of the slaves, their individual monetary values, and remarks about their characters. The first man on the list, a forty-year-old driver named Perry, was valued at $900, an extremely high amount, though he is described as being "disposed to medle with women." Others are characterized as being runaways, sickly, "old and decriped," a "great drunkard," a "good hand," a "Superior hand," and "the greatest rascal on [the] Plantation."

Citation: Letter books of James Bruce, and letterbooks and account books of James Coles Bruce of Berry Hill, 1828–1865, Accession #2692. Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Original Author: Probably the farm manager or overseer on Wilton Plantation

Created: November 22, 1849

Medium: Slave inventory

Courtesy of University of Virginia Special Collections

Final Accounting in a Slave Inventory

This is the final page of a nine-page 1849 inventory that lists the 136 slaves—including 92 men and boys, and 44 women and children—at Wilton sugar plantation in St. James Parish, Louisiana. The Virginia planters James Coles Bruce and James Alexander Seddon (the future Secretary of War in the Confederacy) owned this plantation jointly with Dr. William Webb Wilkins of Louisiana. All three men were related by marriage. As listed here, the aggregate value of the slaves at Wilton plantation was $62,605—$47,005 for the men and boys, and $15,600 for the women and girls. $62,000 in today's money is worth nearly two million dollars. The average value of each slave was roughly $460. According to the penciled additions on this sheet, it seems that Wilkins owned only 6 of the slaves and that Bruce and Seddon owned the vast majority of them.

Citation: Letter books of James Bruce, and letterbooks and account books of James Coles Bruce of Berry Hill, 1828–1865, Accession #2692. Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Original Author: James Coles Bruce or his agent

Created: November 22, 1849

Medium: Slave inventory

Courtesy of University of Virginia Special Collections

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  • "List of Negro Men & Boys, also their ages & value"

    This is the first page of a nine-page 1849 inventory that lists the 136 enslaved people—including 92 men and boys, and 44 women and children—at Wilton sugar plantation in Saint James Parish, Louisiana. The Virginia planters James Coles Bruce and James Alexander Seddon owned this plantation jointly with Dr. William Webb Wilkins of Louisiana. All three men were related by marriage. The inventory includes the ages of the slaves, their individual monetary values, and remarks about their characters. The first man on the list, a forty-year-old driver named Perry, was valued at $900, an extremely high amount, though he is described as being "disposed to medle with women." Others are characterized as being runaways, sickly, "old and decriped," a "great drunkard," a "good hand," a "Superior hand," and "the greatest rascal on [the] Plantation."

    Citation: Letter books of James Bruce, and letterbooks and account books of James Coles Bruce of Berry Hill, 1828–1865, Accession #2692. Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

    Original Author: Probably the farm manager or overseer on Wilton Plantation

    Created: November 22, 1849

    Medium: Slave inventory

    Courtesy of University of Virginia Special Collections

  • Final Accounting in a Slave Inventory

    This is the final page of a nine-page 1849 inventory that lists the 136 slaves—including 92 men and boys, and 44 women and children—at Wilton sugar plantation in St. James Parish, Louisiana. The Virginia planters James Coles Bruce and James Alexander Seddon (the future Secretary of War in the Confederacy) owned this plantation jointly with Dr. William Webb Wilkins of Louisiana. All three men were related by marriage. As listed here, the aggregate value of the slaves at Wilton plantation was $62,605—$47,005 for the men and boys, and $15,600 for the women and girls. $62,000 in today's money is worth nearly two million dollars. The average value of each slave was roughly $460. According to the penciled additions on this sheet, it seems that Wilkins owned only 6 of the slaves and that Bruce and Seddon owned the vast majority of them.

    Citation: Letter books of James Bruce, and letterbooks and account books of James Coles Bruce of Berry Hill, 1828–1865, Accession #2692. Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

    Original Author: James Coles Bruce or his agent

    Created: November 22, 1849

    Medium: Slave inventory

    Courtesy of University of Virginia Special Collections