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J. D. Cameron (John Donald), 1820-1897
A Sketch of the Tobacco Interests in North Carolina. Being an Account of the Culture, Handling and Manufacture of the Staple; Together with Some Information Respecting the Principal Farmers, Manufacturing Establishments and Warehouses; With Statistics Exhibiting the Growth of Tobacco in the Western Counties, and Also in the Other Tobacco Producing Regions of the State, as Shown by Comparison of the Crop of 1880 with Those of Preceding Years
Oxford, N.C.: W. A. Davis; Baltimore: Press of Isaac Friedenwald, 1881.


John Cameron was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on October 26, 1820. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1841 and served as a lieutenant colonel in the Confederate Army. He also studied law and obtained a law license but never practiced. Instead, he started a career in journalism, becoming editor of the Hillsboro Recorder in 1872 and of the Raleigh News two years later; he also later edited and owned the Durham Recorder. In 1874, he was elected Principal Clerk of the North Carolina House of Representatives and served in this position for six terms. He served as a UNC trustee from 1877-1891. Cameron died in Asheville on December 9, 1897.

Cameron's Sketch is a kind of celebration of tobacco, both as an agricultural staple and a manufactured item. The sketch was written during the post-Reconstruction period, which was a period of tremendous growth for tobacco manufacturing in North Carolina and which saw the industrialization of tobacco, textiles, and furniture in North Carolina. The work opens with reflections on how tobacco "throws its spell of enchantment over all mankind" (p. 6), but generally addresses the crop as a commodity. Cameron discusses tobacco cultivation issues and processes, including seed and soil quality, and tobacco marketing, specifically the tobacco grading system. He also looks at tobacco manufacturing across North Carolina and takes issue with the "branding" of North Carolina tobacco, especially for overseas markets, as Virginia tobacco. If North Carolina were to receive recognition for the quality of its tobacco, Cameron argues, the state's seaports would rise in prominence. The sketch includes information, such as start dates, assets, and owners, about many specific growers, manufacturers, and warehouses. Cameron also reviews government taxation of tobacco products, labeling it as unfair and elitist because of the particular burden it places on poor and African American farmers. This copy of the Sketch also includes over twenty pages of advertisements addressed to tobacco farmers.

Works Consulted: Shotwell, R.A. and Natt Atkinson. Legislative Record, Giving the Acts Passed Session Ending March, 1877: Together With Sketches of The Lives And Public Acts of The Members of Both Houses (Raleigh: Edwards, Broughton & Co., 1877);. Tomlinson, John S. Assembly Sketch Book, Volume 2 (Raleigh: Edwards, Broughton & Co., 1883); Alumni history of the University of North Carolina. 2nd edition (Durham: Printed by Christian & King Print. Co., 1924)

Michael Sistrom

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