Planting a Capitalist South: Masters, Merchants, and Manufacturers in the Southern Interior, 1790-1860

Planting a Capitalist South: Masters, Merchants, and Manufacturers in the Southern Interior, 1790-1860

by Tom Downey

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Overview

"This is a pathbreaking book, well grounded in the appropriate documentary record. Downey makes especially good use of the reports of the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company and of other corporations, which are so tedious to read, to offer an exciting and fresh perspective on an old problem of vital importance, the relationship between businessmen and planters in the Old South" -- American Historical Review
"Downey's book has many merits. First of all, it successfully presents a comprehensive and harmonious picture of the development of the region. Second, it helps to better define the contours of the long misunderstood southern political economy and its transformations during the latter part of the antebellum era. It is indeed a well-written and well-thought piece of historiography showing in microcosm how a new synthesis of antebellum southern history should be conceived." -- Enterprise and SocietyIn Planting a Capitalist South, Tom Downey effectively challenges the idea that commercial and industrial interests did little to alter the planter-dominated political economy of the Old South. By analyzing the interplay of planters, merchants, and manufacturers, Downey characterizes the South as a sphere of contending types of capitalists: agrarians with land and slaves versus commercial and industrial owners of banks, railroads, stores, and factories. His book focuses on the central Savannah River Valley of western South Carolina, an influential political and economic region and the home of some of the South's leading states' rights and proslavery ideologues; which also spawned a number of inland commercial towns, one of the nation's first railroads, and a robust wage-labor community. As such, western South Carolina provides a unique opportunity for looking at contrasting economic forces but solely within the boundaries of the South -- slavery vs. free labor, industrial vs. agricultural, urban vs. rural. A revisionary study, Planting a Capitalist South offers clear evidence of a burgeoning transition to capitalist society in the Old South. "Downey's book is a welcome new addition to the growing corpus of studies seeking to understand the lives of white merchants and manufacturers. Well written and researched, Downey's excellent work will add greater nuance to our picture of the social and economic life of the Old South, particularly our picture of the emerging southern middle class." -- Georgia Historical Quarterly"Planting a Capitalist South makes several important contributions. The idea that commerce and industry challenged tenets of republican ideology may be a familiar one, but Downey pursues it in directions seldom explored by previous historians of the Old South, examining conflicts over issue like railroad routes, water rights, and the power of town governments. Moreover, he links those subjects to historians' debates about the capitalist character of the region, and he stakes out an innovative position with his argument that the late antebellum South was in the midst of a transition to capitalism." -- Business History Review

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807146811
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
Publication date: 08/01/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 851,327
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Tom Downey is assistant editor of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson at Princeton University.

Table of Contents

List of Tablesix
Acknowledgmentsxi
List of Abbreviationsxiii
Introduction1
Chapter 1The Agrarian Landscape9
Chapter 2Publici Juris: Economic Development and Entrepreneurship in the Post-Revolutionary Era35
Chapter 3"An Inducement to Capitalists": The Rise of the Merchant Class64
Chapter 4"The Great Avenue of Intercourse and Common Channel of Commerce": The Railroad92
Chapter 5"A Change in Our Industrial Pursuits": Vaucluse and Graniteville118
Chapter 6The Elevation of Commerce: The Merchant's Ascent and the Divergence of Town and Country145
Chapter 7From Intrastate to Interstate: The Railroad and the Demise of Publici Juris177
Chapter 8"A Domineering Influence": Graniteville and the Triumph of Men of Capital204
Conclusion222
Bibliography229
Index253

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