Curtis W. Jacobs diary and account book
Diary and account book of Curtis W. Jacobs, a wealthy Worcester County, Maryland planter, state legislator, and ardent supporter of slavery. This book primarily details his business transactions, especially those relating to the enslaved people on his farm.
- Jacobs, Curtis W. (Person)
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Curtis Washington Jacobs (b. 1815), sometimes known as C. W. Jacobs, was a planter in Worcester County, Maryland, and a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1860-1861, where his position in favor of states' rights and his support of the institution of slavery is well-documented.
Language of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Mrs. H. Thayer Kinsbury in 1990; accession # 003050.
Scope and Contents
This single volume kept by Curtis W. Jacobs details business transactions, especially those relating to the enslaved people who worked his farm.
The first portion of the volume is an accounting of the expenses (about $3,000) incurred by Jacobs while building an addition onto his house in Worcester County, Maryland and constructing outbuildings on the same property from 1853-1856. A few pages of memoranda regarding land for sale in Alabama follow. Next is an 1856 narrative justification for sending 38 enslaved persons to work for various men in Wilcox County, Alabama. As reasons for splitting them up and sending them away, Jacobs claims there were successful and unsuccessful attempts by the enslaved men to run away and that the enslaved women "murdered their own children after birth" and attempted abortions. He believes there were also several "united" attempts to poison the Jacobs family as well as a well-planned armed exodus, helped by "hired abolitionists" in Canada and the free black population in the area. Jacobs lists his attempts to instruct the enslaved people on his farm in morality and religion, in his opinion, to no avail. The next few pages then detail his accounting for the enslaved individuals hired out in Alabama from 1856-1859.
The second half of the volume, which covers the years 1863 to 1866, relates how several of the enslaved people on his farm ran away in October 1863 to join the Union army. He explains that he was compelled by law to not attempt recapture or dissuade others from leaving and blames President Lincoln's drafting efforts for their leaving. Additionally, while the law stated that enslavers loyal to the Union could get $300 compensation per enslaved person, Jacobs was listed as disloyal and could not get anyone to vouch for him in order to receive compensation. He also describes an invitation to the Constitutional Convention of 1864 and how he could not support such an endeavor and how in the next election he and other "disloyal" voters were not allowed to vote.
At the end of the volume, Jacobs lists the enslaved individuals who were freed when slavery was abolished and mentions an enslaved woman who surrendered her freedom to be "my slave for life." The last few pages of the volume transcribes a letter asking men to help build a road between the eastern and western parts of Sussex County, Delaware.
- Guide to the Curtis W. Jacobs diary and account book
- Under Revision
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- 2020-12-09: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Emily Somach.