In the past year, I’ve often wondered just how big a slave owner was my second great-grandfather, Col. W.R. Stuart and just how much property did he amass. To my mind, the fewer slaves he owned, the easier it might be for me to accept him as just a product of his times when slave-ownership was not extraordinary. But receipts I’ve gathered for thousands of dollars he donated to the Confederates and the above advertisement found this weekend on genealogybank.com by a friend make it crystal clear. He was a serious slave owner with a lot of property. Less a product of his time and more someone who helped shape the times.
This January 1853 ad from the Times Picayune says he owned at least “fifty acclimated Negroes.” I’m afraid to even know what “acclimated” means. I assume it just means the slaves are used to picking cotton in the Baton Rouge heat and humidity. And those one thousand “arpents” the ad mentions equal 850 acres. Arpent is an old French unit of land used in French parts of Canada and the US equal to .85 acres. Between the land he cultivated and the slaves he owned to work his land, Col. W. R. Stuart became a wealthy man.
As Marvin Gaye said, make me wanna holler.