Stephen Duncan

Actor

BIOGRAPHY

Stephen Duncan (March 4, 1787 – January 29, 1867) became a major planter and banker in Mississippi in the antebellum years, migrating there from his home state of Pennsylvania after getting a medical degree. He became the wealthiest cotton planter in the South prior to the American Civil War, and also invested in railroads and Midwest lands. He owned thousands of acres of land and more than 1,000 slaves in the 1850s, cultivating both cotton and sugar cane as commodity crops. In 1830 he and James Brown, a wealthy planter and US Senator from Louisiana, paid for the purchase of land in Canada to aid American free blacks from Cincinnati, Ohio found a new community, which became known as the Wilberforce Colony. In the 1830s, Duncan was also among the co-founders of the Mississippi Colonization Society in the 1830s, and helped purchase land in West Africa to create a colony as for relocation of free people of color from the state. In 1860 Duncan was the second-largest slave owner in the United States. He opposed secession, incurring ostracism in Mississippi. He moved from Natchez to New York City in 1863, where he had long had business interests. Ultimately, Duncan was what many of the northern planters from this time aspired to be, and was essential in perpetuating the connection between northern success and growth with southern networks of slavery.

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