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The Letters of George Long Brown
November 16 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pmFree
In 1840, twenty-three-year-old George Long Brown migrated from New Hampshire to north Florida, a region just emerging from the devastating effects of the Second Seminole War. This volume presents over seventy of Brown’s previously unpublished letters to illuminate day-to-day life in pre–Civil War Florida.
Brown’s personal and business correspondence narrates his daily activities and his views on politics, labor practices, slavery, fundamentalist religion, and local gossip. Having founded a successful mercantile establishment in Newnansville (a former county seat of Alachua County), Brown traveled the region as far as Savannah and Charleston, purchasing goods from plantations and strengthening social and economic ties in two of the region’s most developed cities. In the decade leading up to the Civil War, Brown married into one of the largest slaveholding families in the area and became involved in the slave trade. He also bartered with locals and mingled with the judges, lawyers, and politicians of Alachua County. The Letters of George Long Brown provides an important eyewitness view of north Florida’s transformation from a subsistence and herding community to a market economy based on cotton, timber, and other crops, showing that these changes came about in part due to an increased reliance on slavery. Brown’s letters offer the first social and economic history of one of the most important yet little-known frontiers in the antebellum South.
Editors James Denham and Keith Huneycutt will discuss the life of George Long Brown and what it shows us about Alachua County of the 1840s-1860s.