THOMAS LITTLE (1781-1855) was born at Mallsgate Stapleton Parish, Cumberland, England. He sailed for America in April 1806 and became an overseer in South Carolina for several years before moving to Richmond County, North Carolina, where he purchased the plantation of Robert Johnson Steele near Magnum, North Carolina. Little, with the help of his son, John Phillips Little, became one of the region’s wealthiest cotton planters. His plantation contained 18 slave houses for his 69 slaves.
About the year of 1820, Little settled on the Pee Dee River, in the upper part of Richmond County. The Pee Dee River is in the Carolinas. The northeastern counties of South Carolina compose the Pee Dee region of the state.
Offering a plantation contract that apparently originated in South Carolina as noted at the top, 3 pp, 7 ¾ x 9 ½, November 3, 1830, detailing a transaction between Little and John Campbell, in which Little is to use part of the plantation owned by Campbell for $9,600. The contract includes use of a new cotton gin on the plantation, which is not for sale. The contract is accompanied by a separate but related handwritten invoice from Campbell for the purchase of lumber.
Reads in part, with punctuation added for clarity:
"Thomas Little engages to pay John Campbell nine thousand six hundred dollars... In consideration of the above John Campbell engages to make on or before the first of January or April next a good and sufficient title to a certain plantation or tract or land situated on the west side of the Pee Dee River in Anson County North Carolina. The said plantation commonly known as the Dejarnett plantation, it was lately owned by the Estate of William Thomas deceased and is not owned by the said Campbell.
“The above parties agree that John Campbell is to cultivate all the cotton land of the said plantation... for the year ending in December 1831. Said Campbell [is] to have the privilege of using the land to pick out his cotton crops in the winter of 1832 and the use of the cribs till his corn crop can be conveniently removed. Use of the gin, house...till the cotton crop is removed. The new cotton gin is not sold." Signed by Campbell and Little. Witnessed by John C. Cort and W.F. Leak.
Although the contract doesn’t mention slaves, Little undoubtedly used them and had a fairly large contingent. The cotton gin reduced the labor of removing seeds, it did not reduce the need for enslaved labor to grow and pick the cotton. In fact, the opposite occurred. Cotton growing became so profitable for enslavers that it generally increased their demand for both land and enslaved labor.
Light toning and folds. Some small tears at edges. Overall very good and a wonderful example of southern plantation history.
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