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James Patton, 1756-1845
Biography of James Patton
Asheville, N.C.: [s.n.], 1850.


James Patton was born on February 13, 1756 in Northern Ireland. When he was twenty-eight, he came to the United States, where he intended to make enough money to support his family back home. Patton worked at various jobs, struggling with poverty and illness, until he began selling dry goods. As a merchant, Patton traveled between Philadelphia and North Carolina selling his wares along the way. His family eventually immigrated, settling near him in Philadelphia. James Patton died in Asheville, North Carolina in 1845.

Addressed to his "dear children and friends," The Biography of James Patton (1850) explores the events of Patton's life, mainly through descriptions of his business dealings and a chronology of his personal achievements, while painting an interesting picture of the new Republic. The narrative also offers insight into the fraternal bond among Irish immigrants in the United States. After suffering financial losses attributable to youthful naïveté and recklessness, the industrious and frugal Patton amassed some property, including a wagon, a house, and several slaves. Patton outlines his early mistakes and the difficulties he overcame in order to provide later generations with a sense of origin and purpose. Gleaned from a lifetime of experience, Patton humbly advises his readers to adopt prudent business practices. He later recommends several commonsense adages, including the importance of seeking wise counsel and the necessity of consulting one's wife in all matters of consequence. He continually exhibits his commitment to promoting the public rather than the individual good. Indeed, much of the text reads like a series of proverbs on such topics as childrearing, education, hard work, and the treatment of servants. The narrative closes with an appendix in which Patton includes a list of his relatives and several excerpted letters.

Armistead Lemon
Harris Henderson

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