A New Epoch

Amon Haile (Jan. 21, 1793-Sept. 6, 1867)                           
        Amon's long life spanned a momentous divide n
ot merely in American history.  The plow and other implements his family used to make a living from the soil were scarcely changed since ancient times, and so it was also with their utensils for day-to-day living.  Their understanding of the good life was patterned on the Biblical patriarchs.  Amon's ideal of government harked back to classical Athens.

But a strange modern world was emerging.  Robert Fulton launched his steamboat company when Amon was fourteen.  After the boy married, the couple soon had a table fork beside the knife and spoon familiar from his mother's table.  In Amon's middle years Samuel Morse demonstrated the telegraph.  Yet more important for him was John Deere's steel moldboard plow.   Actually turning the soil upside down in a single furrow, it transformed  methods going back millennia.  Before he turned sixty, Amon beheld a locomotive delivered up the Cumberland River to Nashville.  From now on, Tennessee tobacco and cotton on their way to northern commercial centers no longer followed the tortuous route down the Cumberland and Ohio to New Orleans but flew cross country to population centers.  During his boyhood Amon had heard the menfolk scoff at pretentious federal ambitions up in Philadelphia.  The old man's sons were imprisoned, maimed, killed by a mighty industrial invasion.

        While academic historians are gladly touting the material accomplishments of the 19th century, they diminish the culture which produced them.  That old, literate agrarian life was destroyed by those same technical triumphs, and even vilified in our yet more technically advanced society. While Amon Haile was no Robert Fulton, no Samuel Morse, still, it was Amon's ancient way of life that shaped
the thought and religion of his children.  At many an unsung Tennessee table, classical Athens and its Roman admirers were staples, the lives of Deborah and of King David were celebrated, Homer and Moses revered.  These were also formative influences on the nation's founders.  "There is hardly a peasant's hut," wrote Alexis de Tocqueville of Amon's America, "that does not contain a few old volumes of Shakespeare.  I remember that I read the feudal drama of Henry V for the first time in a log cabin."  Ordinary English still reserved the term "literate" for people versed in the literary monuments.  Shakespeare, the Bible, and Walter Scott continued to inform popular language and thought.

       America's founding documents, the Declaration of Independence, the
Federalist Papers, the Constitution, became literary classics themselves.  The most sophisticated court in Europe probably could not have matched the literacy of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.   As to the raw ability to read, that kind of "literacy" is estimated at 90% in Amon's America, probably higher than in Britain at that time.  Some boys and girls did encounter the classics in schools like James McClure's, but most did not need to.  In their parents' farms and villages, reading was cultivated by folk and family.  It was their social bond.  Young men might take up the quill in hope of joining the "immortals" they encountered in a cherished book.  Avid young readers entered a transcendent reality which was just quite alien to the myopic world of non-readers.  To them, literacy meant finding neighbors across the eons as well as across the seas.

well known example of backwoods literacy, by no means an unusual one, is Sam Houston, born in Virginia the same year as AmonHis widowed mother and family were among those we have already traced down the Great Wagon Road into Tennessee.  Houston's father died before their move, but left a personal library which influenced the boy's character more than his very sporadic schooling had.  Unwilling to work for his older brothers, Sam ran away from home at sixteen, to dwell for the next three years with a Cherokee tribe on the Hiwassee River.  He fondly embraced their savage way of life because he imagined it exemplified the Iliad, which he so much admired.  At nineteen, the young man moved back home to Maryville, where he was able to earn his first income by opening a successful village school.  Nor was it so unusual in rural America for young men to get a start that way.  Where had they learned what they taught?  Why, by the fireside, in the forest.  The  three Rs (reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic) took their importance, after all, from outside the schoolroom.  That obvious platitude may indeed apply to all genuine learning, but Bernard Bailyn is the only prominent American historian I have found to recognize that the history of American education has little to do with the schools in America.

       All historians tell about Abraham Lincoln's love of books, sometimes extolling him as if it had been exceptional.  In the serenity of rural America, bookishness was merely typical.   Lincoln is said to have been existentially attached to reading.  It was also for him practical and pragmatic.  He avoided fiction and was not a classicist (as were the founders' generation).  Young Houston set out on a well-beaten political path not unlike Lincoln's.  While recuperating from severe wounds suffered in the Indian Wars the young man read law.  He became a congressman at age thirty,
governor of Tennessee at thirty-five, and president of the Republic of Texas at forty-three.  Although his many travels to Texas were on horseback, Houston somehow accumulated a fair sized library (about a hundred volumes were stored for him by friends in Nacadoches).  The battle-scarred warrior is said always to have carried an Iliad in his boot (the Alexander Pope translation).*  Houston's oratory, like that of his contemporaries, is larded with allusions to ancient statescraft and statesmen--not to show off classical schooling, but in order to reach to a well read populace as it still existed in that century.  Correspondence and conversation were full of classical quotations and allusions, much in the same way that dense references to TV and sports characterize twenty-first century democracy.  This is the "monumental divide in world history" I refer to above.  Reading simply played a more vital rôle in the lives of people born in eighteenth century America than it would for later generations. 
*Two recent Houston biographies are:  Sam Houston by James L. Haley (University of Oklahoma, 1993) and Sam Houston, A Biography of the Father of Texas by John Hoyt Williams (Simon & Schuster,  (2002), but Marquis James's The Raven is a classic of the genre.

             As for Amon, in his twenties he served in the same war in which his father perished (who had been born in Virginia).  He married Lockey ("Charlotte"?), daughter of Thomas Brown and Nancy Litton (also from Virginia families as old as the Hailes). They had followed Avery's Trace to Fort Blount on the Cumberland River, where they joined other settlers from back up the Virginia Blue Ridge.  Amon first turns up in the county records as a young man good at judging cattle. He seems later to have become a litigious fellow--although this may be just an inference I make from the greater detail in which legal records were now being preserved.  They reveal Amon at middle age as a well-to-do farmer and trader.  He and Lockey raised fourteen children.  That they all survived childhood bespeaks the healthfulness of the frontier for babies born to good mothers.  The family prospered.  Joshua became a lawyer, Dudley a preacher, Tom was partner in the store at Flynn's Lick. 
            From our point of view, Amon's life spans the entire first epoch of United States history.  Born during the administration of the nation's first president, the boy may indeed have had personal memory of the founders.  Probably the earliest political discussions Amon could recall were about Thomas Jefferson's bold Louisiana Purchase.  In the eyes of his elders, the country had suddenly become virtually boundless.  Of course, young Amon quickly became aware that the vast hinterland was populated by hostile savages, themselves sometimes allied with powerful European empires. 
        After fighting the British and Indians under President Monroe, Amon beheld the nation's growing stature under John Quincy Adams, and took pride in his father's vindicator, Indian fighter Andrew Jackson, who hanged the British representatives in Florida.  Families like Amon's continued to come down out of Virginia.  The Cumberland became more densely populated.  The nation thrived, Tennessee grew prosperous, its politics blessedly boring.  It was the halcyon era of obscure one-term presidents:  Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan.  Amon witnessed the whole long line.  Any significant rivalries were between financial and farming interests.  While manufacture and commerce continued to thrive, western territories were developing their own radically new ways of life.  The question as to whether the new states should be aligned with the migrants' predominantly southern culture had been a topic for heated national debate since the time of the Hartford Convention, where New England states considered seceding in order to make their separate peace with England.

        As I wrote this, six generations later, America's
political-economic focus was still on one of the same issues as troubled the Hartford Convention:  trade with the rest of the world.  Ways of looking at this perennial problem may have changed, and there are different terms for it.  Amon viewed it in the way Adam Smith had, who discovered trade to be "the wealth of nations" (1776).  Today, speaking of the same entity, we are likely to call it (perhaps less optimistically) "globalization."   In Amon's ante-bellum vocabulary, the whole problem was encompassed with the word Amon used:  "tariffs."

        Import duties were still the major source of federal revenue.  That was just fine with manufacturers and their workers, since tariffs acted to shield both prices and wages from foreign competitors.  Such protection remains the major purpose of import duties, and the practice is still debated.  The Smoot Hawley tariff is said to have brought about the Great Depression of my childhood.  More recently, compromises have been achieved with help from "globalization." Most tellingly, the cost of import duties is diffused among a large, affluent population of "consumers." In Amon's day, on the other hand, tariffs concentrated a double burden on the farm states, which were
cash poor, anyhow. Amon perceived tariffs as encumbering the market for his farm products, and as a tax on farm implements shipped in, or anything else Amon might hope to purchase from abroad. The confiscatory tariff of 1828 finally brought about a constitutional conflict with far-reaching implications.

    The important American political thinker after John Adams was John C. Calhoun, already congressman and senator when Amon was a young man, then vice president under John Quincy Adams and again under Andrew Jackson. Calhoun recognized that fundamental political choices cannot be simply "good" vs. "bad" laws, since opinions will always differ about that. The problem for government lies rather in forging the agreements which legitimize its laws in the first place, so Calhoun argued. A democracy achieves this goal by vesting sovereignty in the people, so that making a decision goes to the majority. This means, so Calhoun concluded, that the fundamental task attending democratic government will be to protect the minorities.  In the tariff issue, dissenting states constituted a very visible minority. They could not seek shelter from the federal government in the courts, because the judiciary is itself a federal branch.

    Calhoun's idea was that
the majority should be compelled, in very important matters, to compromise.   In the common law, Calhoun could point to the requirement for jury unanimity in capital cases.  The Constitution of 1787 attempted to accommodate minority opinion when it provided that the Senate be chosen by the states, not by the populace. Calhoun argued that where any federal law works to the disadvantage of a particular state or region, the dissenters should have recourse to a "concurrent majority." By this he meant something like the majority required for ratification or amendment of the Constitution. The Hartford Convention had come up with the same idea in 1814.  This was also Calhoun's recommendation with regard to the tariff controversy.

Liberty vs. Democracy

       In accord with Calhoun's doctrine discussed above, his home state of South Carolina "nullified" the Tariff of 1828.  An imperious President Andrew Jackson promptly proclaimed the Force Act of 1830, and Congress followed with a statute enabling Jackson to use military force against any recalcitrant state.
  Here Amon and his family had to differ with their beloved president.  They were  among those Virginians and Tennesseeans who still shared Thomas Jefferson's understanding of state sovereignty.  They feared that Jackson was following the very different vision of Alexander Hamilton and John Marshall.  They saw the federal government as becoming rapidly more powerful, and ever more apt to use its force.  The fateful difference was memorialized in 1830, when Andrew Jackson offered his provocative toast, "Gentlemen, to the Union, it must be preserved."  His vice president, John C. Calhoun, arose responding, "The Union! --next to liberty, most dear." 

       The divide was between national power and local independence.  Toward the end of Amon's life, Abraham Lincoln famously shifted the
problem to one of reconciling liberty with equality.  He spoke of a "new nation" not only "conceived in liberty" but also "dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."  Lincoln's occasion was "a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure."   Obviously, Lincoln felt the old arguments about the structure of government (that difference between Hamilton and Jefferson, or between Jackson and Calhoun) could now be ignored--or simply written off as a dead letter.  Already Jackson's administration had shown itself prepared to apply overwhelming force.  The culmination of that new federal power awaited Amon in his old age.  He was to learn how a powerful industrial democracy both formulates uniform national policy and also demands and enforces it--even on a merchant planter in some remote forest where Avery's Trace met the Cumberland River.

            In the year of Amon's birth cotton was still an exotic, far eastern plant known only experimentally in America.  So enormous was the labor required to extract its annoying seeds that cotton did not compete at all with wool and flax.  But in that year, 1793, a gifted Massachusetts teenager visiting in South Carolina devised a way to gin the seeds out of the particular variety which could be grown successfully in the American South.  Eli Whitney’s radical mechanization of the tedious labor previously expended on the cotton boll enhanced the crop's economic significance.  That in turn stimulated vast new labor requirements for the growing of it.  Negro slavery had hitherto existed in America as a  personal relationship.  It was universally recognized as problematic and had been abolished in New England and Pennsylvania already in the 1780s.   But where soil and climate favored cotton,
the essential field labor remained at hand to feed the new technology.  Although the despised slave trade had been outlawed in 1808, cotton's success revived it.  During Amon's young manhood, huge plantations were spreading rapidly from the Carolinas all the way to the Trinity River in Texas.  Each enterprise was predominantly Negro, often with an absentee landowner, so that the only whites might be the overseer's family.  That was the case, for example, with the Mississippi acreage purchased and cleared by Amon's fellow Tennessean James K. Polk after he became president.

    Although cotton farming scarcely found its way into Amon's Cumberland hills, the ancillary institution was ubiquitous by the time he was a grown man.  Several of the documents in Amon's file show that Negroes could now constitute an important part of even a tobacco farmer's estate.  In one attempt to recover a bad debt, for example, Amon demands a number of cattle, hogs, etc., but also several Negroes by name.  Another unfortunate record asks the judge to put a "boy" named Jordan into receivership pending resolution of Amon's claim that Jordan's health is not as had been represented by the vendor.  Below are two pages from Amon's complaint:  I have
scanned the first page (of four) so as to include the top, and also the last page, with Amon's signature ( the entire document is transcribed below).  In treating an individual as a commodity, Amon is conforming with a practice spread by the rise of King Cotton--even though Amon was himself no cotton grower.  The document strikes us today as touching, because of our natural tendency to succor the infirm (this "boy"* certainly casts Amon in a very harsh light).
*He must be a man up in years, as he is alleged to suffer from geriatric problems.

        In the cruelty and gentleness which have ever attended human affairs
, slavery was not new.  Indeed, slavery alone had made both ancient and modern civilizations possible.  Historians remind us how at the Battle of Marathon (490 B.C.) slaves and their masters fighting side by side preserved Western civilization against the Persian onslaught.  But of course we are not dealing here in ancient history, only with our own recent forebear, and with an institution newly developed in the American colonies.  It remains today a "hot button" issue, seldom discussed apart from current events and current attitudes, and current emotions. 

       Here follows my transcription of the above handwriting:

To the Honorable Broomfield
 L. Ridley Chancellor for the 4th
Chancery Division sitting Gainsboro
[blank space] The Bill of compl
aint of Amon Hale a citizen of
Jackson County Tennessee against
Merlin Young Sampson W. Casity
Samuel E. Hare and Samuel
E Stone Citizens of said County
and state
        Humbly Complaining
your orator Amon Hale would
beg leave to state to your honor
that on the thirty first day of January
1848 he purchased of Defendants
Samuel E Hare Samuel E Stone Sampson
W Casity and Merlin Young a negro
boy named Jordan and took their
Bill of sale for said negro contain
ing a warantee of soundness which
said Bill of sale is here shown to the
Court and made part of this bill marked
Exhibit (a) the price agreed to be
given for said negro was five hund
red and fifty Dollars for which
your orator Executed to defend
ants his then several notes: one for
three hundred Dollars due one day
after the date then of one for one hund
red and Twenty five Dollars due 1st
June 1849 one for  $125 due 1st June
1850 all bearing interest from date
which was said 28th /31st day of January
1848                                              [p.2]
your orator took said Negro in to poses
ion on the full belief that he was sou
nd as represented by Defendants in
their said warantee. But to his aston
ishment in some four days of the
said purchaise [sic] your orator beca
me satisfied /apprehensive that said Negro was
and unhealthy and now is satisfied that said Negro is and is and was at the time
 of  the making of said warantee/unsound and unhealthy
affected of and diseased with Dropsy and
affectation of the liver. at which time
your orator went and proposed
to some of said defendants to cansel
said trade. upon the ground of said
unsoundness which they refused
to do and still refuse not with st
anding, said boy bares the indication
s of having said disease and has [?]
been [?] down and under medical treat
  The  premises considered your orator prays that said
Young, Cassity, Hare and Stone be made defendants
to this Bill that they make true & full answering
to the allegations herein contained and that said
defendants be en

 from assigning transfering

or collecting said notes until this case is finally
heard and that writs of injunction issue &c  And
that upon final hearing your honor decree that
the contract & bill of sale for said negro be cancelled
and the notes given as a consideration as aforesaid be
perpetually enjoined.  And as said negro is unsound
and unhealthy your orator is unwilling to be burthened
with the expense of doctors Bills & he therefore
prays your Honor to appoint a receiver to take
said negro into possession and hire hiim out with [p.3]
from time to time until this suit is finally
determined- And your orator prays for such
other further and general relief as his
case may entitle him to.  And as in
duty bound &c
            Cullom & Quailes Soln [?]

State of Tennessee
Jackson county             This 7 /6th day of February /March 1848
before me William B Campbell one of the
Judges of the circuit courts for said State person
/ally appeared Amon Hale the foregoing complainant and made
oath in due form that the allegations  of/inthe foregoing
Bill contained  as made of his own knowledge are
true and those made from information of others
he believes to be true - and subscribed to same in
my presence -
WBCampbell                                             Amon Hail
Judge of the 4th Circuit

The clerk and master of the chancery Court at
Gainsborough _
                           Issue writs of Injunction
as prayed for in the foregoing bill, upon the
complainants giving bond & security in
double the sum prayed to be enjoined &
security for costs, this 6th March 1848
                                                  Judge of the 4th Circuit [p.4]
[leaf pp. 3/4 is folded into quarters so as to provide a cover, in the second column thus produced:]  Amon Haile
                               I. Bill
        Sam E Hare et al

Filed Mar. 7. 1848

The Problem of Slavery

          Seventeenth-century "adventurers" to Virginia enjoyed their land grants at the pleasure of the grantor and ultimately of their king.  The England of their origin had been since time out of mind a feudal society.  Men were bound to the land, and then to the hierarchy.  A change in monarch need not constitute a change in the lord's ties to his vassals, or the vassals' bond to the land.  To be sure, the Magna Carta (1215) had tempered feudalism for free men, and by Nicholas's day two thirds of Englishmen were free, but perhaps not yet in our sense of the word.  Such incisive documents for our present day thinking as the Habeas Corpus Act (1679) and the Bill of Rights (1688) were still in the offing.  Nicholas on the Corotoman had a traditional view of his own condition and that of the servants whom he had transported.  After he arrived in Virginia he, his sons, and grandsons continued to bring over indentured servants as a part of acquiring more land.  Their servants were not bound for life.  At the end of their contract (indenture) they could go out and get land of their own.  Landlords proliferated in America.  So did their options.  Africans could be found among the indentured servants by the end of the century, and also among freeholders.  As the economy remained focused on the land and the labor, one can trace the the gradual inclusion of Africans as chattel, and see how the two forms of servitude overlap by the time of Nicholas of Watauga.        .

      Probably at no time in history had any civilization thrived without slavery in some form.  The new element in Amon's generation, the sixth in America, was the advent of a new technology.  Throughout history every new technology:  now in the form of a plow, a horse collar, the stirrup, now as a compass, gunpowder, or moveable type, now as the steam-driven cotton gin--all had continually required accommodation and adaptation by the multitudes it affected.  That is because any advantage seized by one man is at first offset by disadvantages to others, so that change entails human misery.  So did the cotton gin.

      Given time, benefits from a new invention do eventually spread, despite all selfish efforts to the contrary.  Ironically, the new application of industrial technology to agriculture was to make possible a first affluent civilization without slavery.  The turbulant wake, however, of this radical change was concentrated within only one generation, Amon's.  The huge advantages were first seized by land speculators, developers, and slavers.  Was not judicious, gradual accommodation possible?


        A quick, obvious answer might be that democracy can never favor disinterested decision making.  Balanced, judicious decisions, so easy in authoritarian regimes, are impossible in a system structured to balance interests by popular vote.  Shortly before Amon's birth and just before the invention of the cotton gin, Americans had shaken off the old authoritarianism. Now the telegraph rattled out instant opinion, newspapers prompted mass decision making.  When cotton slavery in the south aroused widespread emotional revulsion and outcry, especially in Eli Whitney's home state of Massachusetts, the impassioned sentiments quickly proved decisive.

        When Amon was a boy, the new government in Philadelphia had been characterized by patient, deliberate compromise.  He grew into a young man admiring the great compromisers, John Jordan Crittendon, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, but regional differences were becoming  more pronounced.  Amon was probably one of those enthusiasts about Andrew Jackson's radical democratic fervor.  He no doubt cheered James K. Polk's energetic expansion of his nation from the Rio Grande to the Pacific to Canada.  Factionalism had become more intense, but by the middle of the century Americans were confident and optimistic.  From tidewater colonies, they had by now driven rapidly from coast to coast, first territorially by banishing the British, the French, and the Spanish empires from the continent, then with steamboats on the great waterways, with railroads across the prairies, and finally by telegraph wires strung from town to town.  All this came about during one man's adult years.  Among the famous men born in the year of Amon's birth were two who opened up Texas, Stephen F. Austin from Missouri and Sam Houston from Virginia.  James K. Polk, born not far from Amon in North Carolina and just two years later, annexed Texas, settled the Oregon dispute, and acquired California, to extend the nation's boundaries from the Gulf of Mexico to Vancouver.

 Some Americans of Amon's day honestly called all this their own "manifest destiny."  Others feared the expansion of the agricultural, hence slave territory within the United States.  It provoked what may be Abraham Lincoln's first speech before  Congress on January 12th, 1848 (he had been elected Congressman in December of 1847.  The context was Mexican sovereignty, but  he spoke in absolte terms:
Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right—a right which, we hope and believe, is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can may revolutionize, and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit. More than this, a majority of any portion of such people may revolutionize, putting down a minority, intermingled with, or near about them, who may oppose their movement. Such minority was precisely the case of the Tories of our own Revolution. It is a quality of revolutions not to go by old lines, or old laws; but to break up both, and make new ones. As to the country now in question, we bought it of France in 18O3, and sold it to Spain in 1819, according to the President’s statements. After this, all Mexico, including Texas, revolutionized against Spain; and still later, Texas revolutionized against Mexico. In my view, just so far as she carried her revolution, by obtaining the actual, willing or unwilling, submission of the people, so far the country was hers, and no farther.
  Jan 12, 1848

President Elect Lincoln wwas to face, thirteen years later, almost to the day, exactly the situation which the freshman Congressman here defines so  precisely and thoroughly.

North vs. South

  South Carolina, already the most rambunctious when a colony, withdrew from the Union (December, 1860).  Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas had followed by the end of January, before Lincoln could be inaugurated.  Still, most people were hoping for settlement by compromise, as had been the case in previous threats by other sections of the country.  Amon may have shared the attitude most prevalent:  uncertainty about the new president, disdain both for the secessionists and for the abolitionists.  People in Amon's Tennessee, like those in Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Missouri, saw no good reason to withdraw from the Union, where family sentiments and their practical interestsbound them.  Nor could anyone conceive taking up arms against their neighbors to the south.  Their confident hope was that Virginia would lead the upper South to a moderate middle position, making it foolish for the alienated states to remain so for long.

        A precarious balance was tilted on April 12th, when the confusion surrounding Fort Sumter led to open hostilities.  Firing on the fort enabled / provoked the new president to call up troops on April 15th.  That in turn precipitated a convention at which Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Arkansas passed an ordinance of secession on May 23rd.  Within hours Federal troops invaded.  At Alexandria, just outside the District of Columbia, a young colonel took down a Confederate flag from over an inn and was shot down by the innkeeper, who was instantly shot, bayoneted, and bludgeoned to death.  The scene portended disaster.

        But still for a year and more Lincoln's generals showed little enthusiasm for inflicting further violence across the Potomac.  And farther afield, what might they find to attack?  The last of the Creek and Choktaw had recently been slaughtered by Federal troops, their towns in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi burned while Amon was still a young man.  Under Jackson's presidency the Cherokee had been driven down the legendary Trail of Tears into Arkansas, leaving a southern countryside still densely forested and pastoral.  When President Lincoln at last found generals willing to prosecute his attack, there was no defending such a landscape against a developed nation equipped with modern arms.  Even the most passionate resistance was doomed.  Nevertheless, more boys were killed than in any other American war, partly because medical skills were as ineffectual as the Confederacy's antiquated flintlocks.  Amon lived to see his homeland devastated, his children imprisoned, wounded, killed, and scattered.  But he survived the conflict and even lived to see a fellow Tennessean succeed Lincoln as president.         

        At the middle of his century, and by his own middle age, Amon Haile had become a prosperous farmer in the beautiful Cumberland valley.  Legal papers demonstrate his wealth.  They can also illustrate both his complicity in slavery and his sufferings.  His own fortune, like the lives and health of his children and grandchildren, were ruined by the invasion.  As his kin had by now become numerous throughout North Carolina, east and middle Tennessee, heaven only knows how many casualties the extended family suffered.  Amon himself, deeply in debt, died in September of 1867.  In December a grandson presided over the auction of Amon's household and tools.  Here is my transcript of his affidavit.

  Joshua F. Haile, aged 27. years being today sworn deposed as follows to wit
Quest       Please  state what amount of personal property was sold at the sale of the personal goods of Amon Haile decease.  Giving the articles of  property as nearly as possible and the amount of money realized by the Sale of said property.

 Answer    I was at the sale and acted as clerk for the Administrator in keeping the account of property sold, the price at which it went, and the person to whom nocked off.  I kept and now have in my possession a list of the articles sold, to whom sold, and the price at which each article went, which is as follows.  To wit:
1 Jackass, sold to      C. W. Wheeler @                        $   17.00
1 Hog                        B. D. Pressly     "                                8.00                  [p.2]

1 Hog         sold to      Elizabeth Haile   at                            7.50
1 Hog                        B. D. Pressly     "                                 7.75
1 Hog        "               Elizabeth Haile   at                            7.00
1 Hog         "               J. G. Craig           "                           6.25
1 Clock      "                Julia Fox          "                              1.00 
1  Turning Plow  "         Wm   Chaffin                                    2.00
1  Cross Cut  Saw nocked off to Geo.Skinnmmerhorn at     5.00
1 Drawing Knife     "            '"             Skimmerhorn at       1.00
1  Fro                        "         "        B. D. Pressly     at            .80
1  Six grs Auger         "         "        N. P. Haile       "              .40
2 other    "                  "         "        N. P. Haile        "             .25
1 pr Stilhends [?]        "         "         Lockey Haile      "          .50
1 Claw hammer          "         "              "                                .15
1   Iron Squin              "         "        Geo Skimmerhorn           .35
1   Handsaw                "         "       Lockey Haile                   .21
1  Auger                      "         "         Elizabeth Haile              .20
1  Spaid , 1 handsaw, & 1 three gr chies [?]      
                 nocked off to                   D. B. Haile       at            .30
2 Hoes & 1 [?]adic sold to                D. B. Haile                     .65
2 Shovel plows & 1 heal pin sold to   J. Haile             at          .65
2 Reaper hooks sold to                     Elizabaeth Haile  "          .50
1 Grindstone sold to                        B. D. Pressly       "          1.50
5  Barrrells of Corn          "         "     Elizabeth Haile          10.25
5        "         "                  "         "    Elizabeth Haile            10.45
5         "         "                 "         "      Elizabeth Haile       "  10.55
Remainder of Corn sold to                J. G.  Craig           at
                            two dollars & 10/100 per Barrel                                                 
                                                                                                              [p. 3]

1 Briar Sibs /Scithe sold to N. P. Haile       at                             .45
1 Little Table      "         "    Lockey Haile   "                              .25
1 Plains             "         "    J. Haile             "                              .50
1  Check Real   "         "     Julia Fox                                          .10
1  Raw Hide      "         "     N. P. Haile         "                          1.20
1   Lot of Lether "         "     Lockey Haile      "                          .15
1  Stand of Molasses sold to Lockey Haile                                 .50
1  Cart of Botes, Bands, Bands & skins sold to  B. D. Pressly   2.25
1  Picture sold to Julia Fox                                                          .70
1  Lot of Cotton sold to Lockey Haile
     at the price of 3 1/2 cts per lb
1  Bedstead Cord and undertick sold to  Lockey Haile                 .25
1  Box sold to Widow Haile                    at                                   .10
1  Trundle-Beadsted & Cord sold to Lockey Haile                        .10
1  Heifer sold to D.B. Haile    at                                                   3.50
1  Heifer   "     "   Julia Fox   "                                                     8.25
1  Cow      "     "  Elizabeth Haile                                                20.50
1  Cow      "     "  Thomas Piffin                                                  15.50
1  Lot of Sweet potatoes sold to Widow Haile at                            .10
1  Set of  Gears sold to T. J. Craig                                                1.60
1  Sledg Hammer sold to D. B. Haile                                               .60
  1 Bill and Collor for same sold to John Stout at                               30. [?]

The above list comprises all of the personal property sold on the day of sale as appears from the said list that I kept which list I yet have in possession. and it shows the price at which each article went at, as appears upon said list also
                           J. F. Haile

   As best I can tell, almost all the bidders are of Amon's immediate family, including his sons-in-law and daughters-in-law.   A comparable inventory from Kentucky in 1855 may be found for one John Burch

            Lockey in her last years was cared for by her daughter Julia and son-in-law William Darwin.  In addition to some land, her estate consisted of a few hogs and sheep, household goods, and a $65 note owed her by the son-in-law (figured in 2004 purchasing power, it might have been worth about $1,000).  Lockey would really like to leave that money to a grandson, but then decides against it for reasons which seem all too easy to divine.

Lockey's will

[p. 1 top]

[p. 1 bottom]

[p. 2, top]

[p. 2, bottom]


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