A Guide to the Abijah Hunt Papers, 1800-1821, 1880
Abijah Hunt, a native of New Jersey, formed a business partnership with his brothers Jeremiah and Jess Hunt, and Elijah Smith. He came to Natchez in 1798 as a sutler, or licensed merchant, for the United States Army stationed along the lower Mississippi River. Hunt received shipments of goods from his brothers, imported, made purchases and transactions in New York, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati, and gained a good reputation as a reputable man of business. Hunt began planting cotton, and with Smith opened several stores and cotton gins at Natchez, Washington, Greenville, Port Gibson, Big Black, and his original base of operation, Bayou Pierre. Hunt eventually acquired a 3,645-acre plantation in Adams County, and even larger tracts of land in Jefferson and Claiborne Counties. He used vertical integration as a business philosophy, growing cotton, ginning it at his own gins, brokering cotton for himself and others, ang charging a commission of 10% of the cotton to planters for processing it.
The three Hunt brothers gained direct financial ties to England and became one of the largest commission mercantile entities on the southwestern frontier, supplying planters with all of their needs. They dealt in large quantities of cotton and contracted sales to British industrial consumers on behalf of their customers. Jeremiah would sometimes travel to Natchez to make plans with brother Abijah for the sale and shipment of hundreds of thousands of pounds of cotton to England.
Hunt was also involved with the incorporation of the Bank of the Mississippi in 1809 after receiving a charter from the territorial legislature. He received an appointment as Deputy Postmaster from United States Postmaster General Joseph Habersham in the fall of 1799, establishing mail services “to that distant portion of the Union.” Hunt, who began sending the mail in January 1800, was responsible for the service along the Natchez Trace from Natchez to Nashville about 500 miles away. Hunt immersed himself in local politics as an outspoken Federalist, and became embroiled in a conflict with George Poindexter, a Democratic Republican who later became Governor of Mississippi. The two fought a duel on the west bank of the river opposite Natchez in 1811, resulting in his own death.
The Abijah Hunt Papers, 1801-1821, contains legal documents, financial documents, and a biography of Abijah Hunt.
Abijah Hunt Papers, 1800-1821, 1880, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Laurel Rozema, April 2009.
Detailed Description of the Papers