Item #4190 [Manuscript ledger for Isaiah Garrett’s legal practice and plantation business in Lousiana]. Isaiah Garrett.
[Manuscript ledger for Isaiah Garrett’s legal practice and plantation business in Lousiana].
[Manuscript ledger for Isaiah Garrett’s legal practice and plantation business in Lousiana].
[Manuscript ledger for Isaiah Garrett’s legal practice and plantation business in Lousiana].
[Manuscript ledger for Isaiah Garrett’s legal practice and plantation business in Lousiana].
[Manuscript ledger for Isaiah Garrett’s legal practice and plantation business in Lousiana].
[Manuscript ledger for Isaiah Garrett’s legal practice and plantation business in Lousiana].
[Manuscript ledger for Isaiah Garrett’s legal practice and plantation business in Lousiana].

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[Manuscript ledger for Isaiah Garrett’s legal practice and plantation business in Lousiana].

Monroe, Louisiana, and “Lindwood,” plantation, south of the city, 1845-1855. Folio ledger, contemporary paneled sheep. 357 pages numbered in manuscript, 31 of them blank, providing a detailed account of his legal practice and plantation transactions, with approximately 15 manuscript documents, mostly receipts, and an important autograph summation of Garrett’s attempts to make a living on the plantation, laid in.

A substantial, richly detailed record of the practice of law and the operation of a plantation in antebellum Louisiana.

Isaiah Garrett (1812-1874), a Louisiana lawyer, politician, and planter, was born in Franklin, Tennessee and raised in Missouri. He won an appointment to West Point, graduating in 1833, but almost immediately left the service due to poor eyesight. After settling in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, Garrett read law, obtaining his license to practice before the state supreme court in 1835 before entering into a partnership with Judge E.K. Willson, then "the leading lawyer of the north Louisiana bar," a mantle assumed by Garrett upon his mentor's retirement. After marrying Narcissa Grayson, a member of a prominent area family, in 1836, Garrett settled into work and family life, the couple raising five children (six others died before the age of six) while he built his reputation, serving as district attorney, as an important member of the state constitutional convention in 1845, and as a co-operationist member of the secession convention in 1861, all the while handling important legal cases in his area and beginning another life as a planter, establishing "Lindwood," a large plantation on the river south of Monroe in the early 1850s. In 1857 Garrett gave up the practice of law to concentrate on the plantation, building a new home there for his family; by the first year of the Civil War, however, he and the family had moved back to Monroe. At war's end, he resumed his practice of law, training his two elder sons in his office, and sold his country property.

Garrett's ledger provides a detailed manuscript account of his two businesses, with entries on 326 pages, from one to several dozen per page, totaling several thousand, covering a wide range of legal services, estate settlements, defenses against criminal charges, powers of attorney, suits, appearances before state district and supreme courts, etc., and plantation income, expenses (including a complete list for the construction of a "dwelling" on one of his plantations; Garrett paid his overseer $500 annually), and activities, involving land, equipment, and slave purchases, crop planting and harvesting, farm improvements, etc. There are at least two dozen references to slaves in the ledger, including the defense of a couple accused of harboring a runaway, an action to recover "land & negroes," an emancipation, entries for slaves that Garrett purchased (seven by name giving amounts paid for each), and his slave hires, among other actions. Also included in the ledger are several annual summaries of income and expenses, a summary of "How I Stand" in 1848, listing all assets and debts, two long lists of periodical subscriptions, with annual rates paid, detailed entries on lands purchased for his plantations, home expenses, and much more. Southern antebellum ledgers from law firms and plantations are quite scarce in trade.

Of special note is a brief manuscript Garrett apparently prepared as the Civil War began. Laid into the ledger, the item is entitled "Calculation from the data of I. Garrett Esqr, as regards his success in Planting prior to '61" [caption title on verso of one-page folio manuscript document headed "Lindwood"], and lists expenses for land and slaves, 1838-1860, recording 12 slaves by name, along with general entries for several groups of slaves, including “one woman & family” (total expenses for slaves, $29,175), making a seven-line assessment of expenses versus income, and closing "[The calculation] shows that under the old system of planting one could not succeed in planting on a borrowed capital even if he had been able to obtain money [at a lower rate]. If I had possessed no other resources I must have been sold out. Nor can one plant now on a borrowed capital. He may make something if he owns a place and has cash to pay for the year's expenses. To rent payable at the end of the year is to borrow.”

CONDITION: Good, rubbed and worn, leather spine label, about half chipped away, a separate index in marbled wrappers laid in.

Item #4190

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