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Drawn from major repositories throughout the South, these primary documents are rich resources for scholars. They open new directions for research on plantations as economic and social systems, values and culture among the southern elite, slavery and emancipation, women's roles, life among the yeoman class, marketing of staple crops, national politics, southern politics, the Civil War, and myriad other aspects of the antebellum period. Because the plantation was a commercial enterprise, record keeping was essential. Many planters kept journals, crop books, overseers' journals, and account books in remarkable detail. Family members often kept personal diaries and corresponded extensively with friends and relatives near and far. Series G, Part 4 consists of the records of a family of Natchez lawyers. George Winchester, a native of Massachusetts, moved to Mississippi around 1820. In partnership with Sturges Sprague and later on his own, Winchester developed a legal practice representing the prominent landowners and slaveholders of the Natchez area. He also developed political ties and served as a state supreme court justice and legislator. His nephew, Josiah Winchester, joined him in his Natchez practice in 1835. Josiah married Margaret Sprague, a daughter of George Winchester's former partner, with whom he had 12 children. The younger Winchester later served as a judge. Records in Part 4 include correspondence, financial papers, and legal documents relating to innumerable plantations, slavery, and estate fiduciary transactions. Clients and correspondents include John Minor, Archibald Dunbar, Stephen Duncan, Wade Hampton, John A. Quitman, and the Natchez Rail Road Co.

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