John Pendleton Kennedy (1795-1870) grew up in Baltimore. Swallow Barn, his first book, attempts to do for a southern plantation what Irving's Bracebridge Hall had done for the English manor house. Originally published in 1832 in Philadelphia, the collection of sketches purports to be an account of the "seeings and thinkings" of Mark Littleton on his first visit to the South. Addressed to a fellow Northerner, Littleton's descriptions of Frank Merriwether and his estate bathe the plantation in a kind of nostalgic glow that nonetheless does political work in the present. The first edition was published on the eve of the Nullification Controversy. Kennedy decided to republish it in the early 1850s, he wrote to a fellow Southerner, as "an antidote to the abolition mischief." As you'll see in the four chapters accessible below, Merriwether feels that slavery is wrong, theoretically, but proves to his Northern visitor that his Negro slaves "could never become a happier people" than they are at present, as slaves at Swallow Barn.
All the illustrations can be viewed in the GALLERY OF IMAGES section.
Swallow Barn; or, A Sojourn in the Old Dominion, by John Pendleton Kennedy. Revised Edition, With Twenty Illustrations by Strother. New York: George P. Putnam, 1851.
Illustration for Chapter 3
Illustration for Chapter 41