Josiah Smith letter book, 1771-1784.

Creator: Smith, Josiah, 1731-1826.
Collection number: 3018
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Abstract: Josiah Smith Jr. was a Charleston, S.C., merchant, financial agent, and Revolutionary War patriot. He was born in Cainhoy, St. Thomas’s Parish, S.C. A merchant for most of his life, he also acted as a debt collector for individuals owning property in South Carolina, but living elsewhere, and as resident manager and executor for several estates. During the Revolutionary period, Smith served in the S.C. General Assembly and as agent for the U.S. lottery. During the siege of Charleston he was taken as a prisoner-of-war. He returned briefly to his mercantile business after the war, but left it in 1790, when he became cashier of the Branch Bank of the United States, a position he held until 1810. He married Mary Stevens (1741-1795), with whom he had 12 children. The letter book contains handwritten copies of business and personal letters of Josiah Smith, Jr. Most of the letters are to merchants in England, the West Indies, and other English colonies; to English and American clients for whom Smith served as a financial agent; and to ministers and others interested in the Presbyterian Church. Subjects include currency shortages, quitrents and land prices, plantation management, slaves, Presbyterian Church affairs in South Carolina and New York, the North Carolina Regulators, the seige of Charleston, and Smith’s role in the Revolutionary War.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Most of the letters address English merchants, English and American clients, and ministers and members of the Presbyterian church, and discuss the purchase of slaves, slave illnesses, and other plantation news; the housing, clothing, care, and sale of slaves; a 1774 controversy between the governor and the assembly of South Carolina concerning the importation of slaves; and a 18 May 1775 letter expressing fear of a slave revolt.

An item-by-item list of the letters, noting addressee, date, and topic, is included as an appendix to this inventory of letters.