CIVIL WAR AND THE CONFEDERACY
The Business Records of Fraser, Trenholm & Company of Liverpool and Charleston, South Carolina, 1860-1877, from the Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool
This project makes available the
business records of Fraser, Trenholm & Company of Liverpool
and Charleston, South Carolina, 1860-1866, and Prioleau and
Company of London, 1860-1877.
During the Civil War, Fraser, Trenholm and
Company was a prominent commercial house in Liverpool with close
ties to the Confederate States. George A Trenholm, the senior
partner of the Charleston office, became Secretary to the
Confederate States Treasury in 1864. Charles Kuhn Prioleau, the
senior partner of the Liverpool office, had been brought up in
South Carolina and most of his family still lived there.
Fraser, Trenholm and Company made an
enormous contribution to the war effort of the South, acting as
banker of the Confederate Government and financing the supply of
armaments and other essential goods in return for cotton. The
company also participated in blockade running, built vessels for
the Confederate navy in Liverpool such as the Alabama,
a commerce-destroyer, assisted in the floating of Confederate
loans, and encouraged support in Europe for the South.
The collection provides a unique insight
into these activities. Many of the major protagonists in the
Civil War feature in the letterbooks and correspondence. The firms
role in the reconstruction of the South and involvement in world
trade, especially in armaments, is also revealed.
Of the eight boxes of material in the collection, c1860-1877,
the first, featuring over 200 original letters to C K Prioleau for the period
1860-1869, is by far the most important. There is correspondence from figures
such as J D Bulloch, Agent for the Confederate Navy, Major Caleb Huse, principal
Confederate Army purchasing officer in Europe, General C J McRae, Confederate
Treasury Agent in Europe, and G A Trenholm. Subjects include blockade running,
battles, armament supply, the financing of the Southern war effort and other
aspects of the war and business.
Personal correspondence of C K Prioleau
includes letters from his wife, Mary, and many from civilians in
the South whose life was being affected by the course of the war,
with eye-witness reports of the shelling of Charleston.
A further 600 letters and telegrams to and
from Prioleau for the period 1870-1876 deal with the aftermath of
the Civil War, the various attempts made by the US Government to
recover funds formerly belonging to the Southern states, and
Prioleaus continuing business interests.
There are also 10 letterbooks of Prioleau,
1862-1877; 3 letterbooks of J R Hamilton (Prioleau & Company),
1868-1874; Account Books and Sales Records, 1869-1876; Records
concerning the construction of vessels for the Confederate Navy,
1862-1864; Correspondence regarding small arms and torpedoes,
1862-1875; Legal Documents regarding cases held in the New York
Supreme Court, and in the Admiralty and Chancery Courts;
Correspondence with Customs Commisssioners; items relating to
work done by the Merseyside firms of Jones, Quiggin and Company (Shipbuilders)
and Fawcett, Preston and Company (Engineers); Records of
purchases of cotton; and a list of members of the Southern
Independence Association, Manchester, 1862.
This is a little known and under exploited
source for US History, Science and Technology and Economic
History that will help scholars to understand the financing of
the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.