Cameron family papers, 1757-1978 (bulk 1770-1894).

Creator: Cameron family.
Collection number: 133
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Abstract: Cameron family of Orange and Durham counties and Raleigh, N.C. Among antebellum North Carolina’s largest landholders and slave holders, the Camerons also owned substantial plantations in Alabama and Mississippi. Prominent family members included Richard Bennehan (1743-1825), merchant; Duncan Cameron (1777-1853), lawyer, judge, banker, and legislator; and Paul C. Cameron (1808-1891), planter, agricultural reformer, and railroad builder. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence, financial and legal documents, and account books. In addition, there are speeches, writings, printed material, pictures, and miscellaneous other types of personal papers. Included is extensive information about Richard Bennehan’s store at Stagville, N.C., and the Stagville and Fairntosh plantations, including crop and slave records. Family correspondence details the familial relationships and social behavior of a wealthy planter family, particularly the women. In addition to documentation about Duncan Cameron’s legal career, there is also information about the State Bank of North Carolina and the banking industry, the education of the Cameron children at various schools, the development of the University of North Carolina, the state militia, the Episcopal Church, railroads, and state government.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Correspondence regards attitudes toward slavery; plantation management (1830s); runaway slaves (1847); a former slave’s attempts to buy her children (1859); and the aftermath of emancipation, including the looting of Fairntosh Plantation by former slaves. Additional materials include a narrative about a test case brought by an African-American servant (1865); slave lists and a slave ledger which provide information on the hiring and expenses of slaves, transfer of slaves, contracts to sell slaves, recording birth and deaths and slaves’ occupations; student essays on slavery (1796-1805); an undated essay “A Peep into the Old Dominion” discussing problems of free labor; and an account book recording accounts for African Americans (1866). The collection also includes letters written to and from a former Cameron family slave living in Liberia (1840s) and letters from a slave in Alabama reporting on plantation business to the Camerons. Microfilm available.