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Robert Carter III (1728-1804) was a planter, slaveholder, and iron manufacturer of Nomini Hall plantation, Westmoreland County, Virginia. The correspondence, letter books, day books, and other papers in this collection contain detailed documentation on colonial Virginia: the Revolutionary War; plantation and family life; 18th century slavery and emancipation; the iron and textile industries; Methodist, Presbyterian, Quaker, Swedenborgian, and Baptist religious beliefs and practices, and their relevance to slavery and race; tobacco cultivation in Virginia; and life in Baltimore, Maryland after the Revolutionary War. Documents related to Carter's unusual act in 1791 to gradually manumit hundreds of slaves are also in this collection. The letter books house over 3,000 pieces of correspondence written by Carter to well-known individuals of the time, such as Charles Carroll, Benjamin Day, William Ebzer, Thomas Fairfax, William Grayson, Patrick Henry, Ludwell Lee, Richard Lee, Peyton Randolph, George Turberville, John Turberville, and George Wythe, and letters to Carter written by Alexander Campbell, Christopher Collins, Thomas Jones, Richard Lee, George Newman, John Overall, and Simon Triplett. In his letters, Carter refers many times to the education and welfare of his many children and writes to them while they are away from home. Transcripts are available for the majority of the materials.

The letter books, day books, wills, loose letters, and other documents in the Robert Carter papers offer rich information on social and economic conditions in Virginia and Maryland in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, and disclose a great many details on plantation life and the management of enslaved people, overseers, secretaries, ship's captains, and skilled workers employed in Carter's various enterprises. The records document milling, spinning, weaving, iron works, and linen manufacture at the time of the Revolutionary War, and the frequent shipments of goods to and from Europe. Carter comments in great detail on the development of new plantations and the purchase, clothing and feeding, training, and punishment of slaves. The records also document his efforts to free a large number of slaves, which eventually resulted in many hundreds acquiring their freedom after prolonged legal battles following his death in 1804.

Three sets of transcripts represent almost the entire body of correspondence and other records in the collection and facilitates access to the content of the volumes, many of which are fragile. Other loose papers include letters, invoices, notes, financial accounts, and a few clippings.

Information of the Revolutionary War's impact on Virginia and its plantations is found in both the letter books and day books, including militia affairs in Westmoreland County and Captain Lane's Company of that county. Carter also describes British ships off the Virginia coast, and raids on his plantations by the British, who carry off many slaves. Carter also includes descriptions of his oath of allegiance (Daybook XIV) and his membership in the Virginia House of Burgesses. After the Revolutionary War, his comments focus increasingly on life in Baltimore, where he had set up his household.

Carter's day books and letter books also contain frequent commentary on religious beliefs, preachings, and meeting houses. He examines Swedenborgian, Presbyterian, Quaker, and Methodist practices and beliefs, but around the Revolutionary War turns to the Baptist Church and leaders such as Lewis Lunsford, who baptised him, and Ebenezer Brookes. Carter copied a circular from preacher John Leland (1750-1841) into Daybook XVI. The conclusion of the sermon deals with the sin of slavery and the freedom of enslaved people, the burden of slavery to the owners, and the duties of slaves to those masters.

Perhaps influenced by Leland's stand, Carter executed a deed in 1791 setting up a gradual manumission of hundreds of his slaves, an extraordinary act for his time. Volume XI in the collection contains this act of manumission, recorded in the first few pages, then followed by many pages of lists of the names of the enslaved individuals who were to be freed, their names (a few with both first and last names), ages, and gender, their work roles (e.g. cooper, postilion), and the plantations where they worked. Also in the loose papers is a document recording a question posed by Robert Carter relative to the application of the law in Virginia as to the responsibility of a former owner of manumitted slaves for continuing to maintain those he has set free who are physically or mentally handicapped.

The individuals to whom Carter sent letters include many well-known individuals of the time: Charles Carroll, Benjamin Day, William Ebzer, Thomas Fairfax, William Grayson, Patrick Henry, Ludwell Lee, Richard Lee, Peyton Randolph, George Turberville, John Tuberville, and George Wythe. Among those writing to Carter were Alexander Campbell, Christopher Collins, Thomas Jones, Richard Lee, George Newman, John Overall, and Simon Triplett. There are also many references in the letter books and day books to Carter's many children, especially concerning their education.

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William Weaver papers, 1809-1885 4 Linear Feet — 3,387 Items

Ironmaster and pioneer in scientific agriculture, from Goshen (Rockbridge Co.), Va. Correspondence and business papers of the owner of the Bath Iron Works, Buffalo Forge, Va., containing information about the iron industry in antebellum Virginia, the use of slaves as industrial laborers, life among Weaver's workers, the supply of iron to the Confederate government, the iron industry in the Confederacy, and industrial conditions in Virginia during Reconstruction. Personal correspondence discusses the progress of the war in Virginia and Confederate politics.

Collection contains business papers of William Weaver (1781-1863?), owner of the Bath Iron Works, dealing with the iron industry in Virginia, and containing information on types of items in demand; collection of debts; prices of iron, land, crops, and livestock; the hiring and use of slave labor; and diet, clothing, wages, and prices of slaves. Included are several lists of slaves, with a brief physical description and comments on their reliability as workers. Personal correspondence discusses cholera in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Baltimore, Maryland, 1832; smallpox in Lexington, Virginia; typhoid in Texas, 1853; the activities and pension of a Revolutionary soldier; state and national politics, especially under Andrew Jackson; the completion of the canal from the mouth of the Brazos River to Galveston, Texas, 1853; the election of 1860; vigilance committees in Virginia; the use of substitutes; troop movements through Lynchburg and Richmond, Virginia; food prices; the death of Thomas Jonathan Jackson; and the iron industry during the war. Letters, 1861-1863, from John Letcher (1813-1884), U. S. congressman, 1851-1859, and governor of Virginia during the Civil War, discuss his message to the Virginia General Assembly concerning state and Confederate affairs in 1861; rumors; the failure of the legislature to provide replacement troops; military actions at Gordonsville and Fredericksburg, Virginia; various Confederate and Union generals; the unlikelihood of European intervention; military activity in North Carolina; and public opinion in the North.