John Perkins papers, 1822-1885.

Creator: Perkins, John, 1819-1885.
Collection number: 924
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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.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Folders 2 thru 4 contain letters from the years of Perkins’s service in Congress (1853-1855)that discuss the situation of the slaveholding states.

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 (Folders 6 and 7) ┬áRhodes 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. (Folders 9 and 10)

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. (Folders 13 to 15a).