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Personal Property

The Founding Funders map features information about the “real property” (land) and “personal property” of Sewanee’s earliest benefactors. The national census of 1860 was the first to list the value of personal property, which included “moveable goods” such as clothing, furniture, livestock, and, most importantly, enslaved people. These figures are important in measuring the scope of the subscribers’ wealth in enslaved property. Using the 1860 census, we found that the listed personal wealth of the Founding Funders ranged from a low of $100 to a high of $1 million. At the top of the heap was the large enslaver Joseph Acklen (1816-1863), who pledged $25,000 and owned personal property in Louisiana (including 692 enslaved people) valued in 1860 at $1 million. The personal property of John Pendleton King (1799-1888) of Georgia, who pledged $500, was $500,279 (including 68 enslaved). Oliver Jones Morgan (1784-1860) of Louisiana, who made the largest pledge of all ($40,000), held $500,000 in personal property (408 enslaved). The trustees named “Morgan’s Steep” in honor of him.

The counties in shades of blue on the map indicate the combined personal property of the subscribers in the counties they designated as their home or principal residence. 

  • In the darkest blue counties, the combined personal property of the University’s subscribers exceeded $800,000 in value in 1860. 
  • The middle blue indicates the combined personal wealth fell between $300,000 and $800,000. 
  • In counties shaded the lightest blue, combined personal property value came to less than $300,000. 

A large proportion of the University’s benefactors owned real and personal property in more than one county. The “secondary” counties are marked in gray. For example, Seaborn Jones Jr. (1788-1864), whose home was in Muscogee County, Georgia, had 12 other properties spread across Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi in 1860. He enslaved 71 at his home property and another 152 at the others. His personal property value was only $54,000 because it reflected only his Muscogee County goods.

A comparison of the personal property map (right) with the map designating the number enslaved (left) shows that clusters of personal property value corresponded to the counties where slave holdings were densest. Such a comparison highlights how the sources of the University’s wealth directly correlated with its subscribers’ investments in human property.