Loan request sent to the preeminent retailer and one of the wealthiest men in the United States from a New York business man who had been ruined during the Civil War when the Confederacy seized his entire inventory in accordance with its Sequestration Act of 1861. J. W. Little to A. T. Stewart, Alexander Turney.
Loan request sent to the preeminent retailer and one of the wealthiest men in the United States from a New York business man who had been ruined during the Civil War when the Confederacy seized his entire inventory in accordance with its Sequestration Act of 1861

Loan request sent to the preeminent retailer and one of the wealthiest men in the United States from a New York business man who had been ruined during the Civil War when the Confederacy seized his entire inventory in accordance with its Sequestration Act of 1861

New York City: 1869. Unbound. In this three-page letter to Stewart, Little asks to borrow money to pay off a loan for equipment he purchased to re-establish his business after Confederate authorities in Mobile, Alabama seized his entire inventory. A stereoview of Stewart’s four-story, cast-iron, full-block retail “Palace” in New York City is included. The letter is in nice shape; the stereo view has a vertical center crease. Very good. Item #009128

In October of 1861, the Confederate government passed a Sequestration Act authorizing the seizure of any Union property within its borders, and over the course of the war confiscated for use or sale millions of dollars of land and goods from Northern owners.

Little, as he relates in this letter to the founder of the first and most successful of all department stores, fell prey to the act: “In March 1860 I left N York City & went to Mobile Ala engaged in the sale of sash, blinds, doors, builders hardware &c with sufficient means to carry on the trade & was successful until the war broke out. The confederate government took all of my stock (about twenty thousand dollars in value) to build Officers Quarters, Hospitals, &c without remuneration & ruined me. It is a little more than one year since I returned. Since January last I have been established in my former business here the manufacture of sash, blinds, doors & etc by steam & I am in debt for my machines. . . . Knowing you to be charitable with an abundance of means I ask you to assist me to 1000.00 or 1500.00 Dols which will enable me to prosecute my business & will soon be able to repay you the amount with interest.”

Alexander Stewart was a New York multi-millionaire who had earned his fortune by creating what was at the time the most extensive and lucrative dry goods business in the world. Beginning with a small inheritance and $500 in earnings as a grocer’s bag boy, by 1848 he had he had built a large marble-fronted store on Broadway between Chambers Street and Reade Street, which was devoted to the wholesale branch of his business, and was the largest retail store in the world at that time. Stewart also had branches of his company in different parts of the world and owned several mills and factories. Stewart had an annual income of US$1,843,637 in 1863. His business success is estimated to have made him one of the twenty wealthiest people of all time with a fortune equivalent to approximately 90 billion 2012 US dollars.

It’s unknown if Stewart loaned Little any money. An interesting piece of documentary evidence regarding a financially devastating, but now largely forgotten, aspect of the Civil War.

Price: $200.00