Richard Thompson Archer and the Burdens of Proprietorship: The Life of a Natchez District Planter

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In 1824 a young Virginia aristocrat named Richard Thompson Archer migrated to Mississippi. Joining in the boom years of expansion in the Magnolia State in the 1830s, Archer built a vast cotton empire. He and his wife, Ann Barnes, raised a large family at Anchuca, their home plantation in Claiborne County, Mississippi. From there Richard Archer ruled a domain that included more than 500 slaves and 13,000 acres of land. On the eve of the Civil War he was one of the wealthiest men in the South. This work examines the life of Richard Archer from his origins in Amelia ... continued below

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Hammond, Carol D. December 2001.

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  • Hammond, Carol D.

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In 1824 a young Virginia aristocrat named Richard Thompson Archer migrated to Mississippi. Joining in the boom years of expansion in the Magnolia State in the 1830s, Archer built a vast cotton empire. He and his wife, Ann Barnes, raised a large family at Anchuca, their home plantation in Claiborne County, Mississippi. From there Richard Archer ruled a domain that included more than 500 slaves and 13,000 acres of land. On the eve of the Civil War he was one of the wealthiest men in the South. This work examines the life of Richard Archer from his origins in Amelia County, Virginia, to his death in Mississippi in 1867. It takes as its thesis the theme of Archer's life: his burdens as proprietor of a vast cotton empire and as father figure and provider for a large extended family. This theme weaves together the strands of Archer's life, including his rise to the position of great planter, his duties as husband and father, and his political beliefs and activities. Archer's story is told against the background of the history of Mississippi and of the South, from their antebellum heyday, through the Civil War, and into the early years of Reconstruction. Archer was an aristocrat but also a businessman, a paternalist but also a capitalist. He enjoyed his immense wealth and the power of his position, but he maintained a heavy sense of the responsibilities that accompanied that wealth and power. Archer pursued his business and his family interests with unyielding tenacity. To provide for the well- being and security of his large extended family and of his slaves was his life's mission. Although the Civil War destroyed much of Archer's empire and left him in a much reduced financial state, his family survived the war and Reconstruction with several of their plantations intact and with their social position preserved.

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  • December 2001

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 14, 2008, 8:08 p.m.

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  • June 25, 2009, 12:24 p.m.

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Hammond, Carol D. Richard Thompson Archer and the Burdens of Proprietorship: The Life of a Natchez District Planter, dissertation, December 2001; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc5513/: accessed September 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .