Builders of a New South: Merchants, Capital, and the by Aaron D. Anderson

By Aaron D. Anderson

Builders of a brand new South describes how, among 1865 and 1914, ten Natchez mercantile households emerged as major purveyors within the wholesale plantation provide and cotton dealing with enterprise, and shortly turned a dominant strength within the social and fiscal Reconstruction of the Natchez District. They have been capable of make the most of postwar stipulations in Natchez to realize mercantile prominence by means of providing planters and black sharecroppers within the plantation provide and cotton purchasing enterprise. They parlayed this preliminary good fortune into cotton plantation possession and have become vital neighborhood businessmen in Natchez, partaking in lots of civic advancements and politics that formed the district into the 20th century.

This publication digs deep in numerous documents (including census, tax, estate, and probate, in addition to hundreds of thousands of chattel loan contracts) to discover how those investors functioned as marketers within the aftermath of the Civil warfare, analyzing heavily their function as furnishing retailers and land speculators, in addition to their family members with the area's planters and freed black inhabitants. Their use of favorable legislation maintaining them as collectors, besides an effective neighborhood base that was once civic-minded and culturally intact, vastly assisted them of their luck. those households prospered partially as a result of their solid enterprise practices, and in part simply because neighborhood whites and blacks embraced them as precious brokers within the rising new industry. the location created via the aftermath of the battle and emancipation supplied a fantastic condition for the service provider households, and finally, they performed a key position within the district's monetary survival and have been the leading modernizers of Natchez.

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Extra resources for Builders of a New South: Merchants, Capital, and the Remaking of Natchez, 1865-1914

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For example, in 1870 the census listed firms in the following categories and totals: “Merchant,” 52; “Grocer,” 49; “Dry Goods,” 24; “Storekeeper,” 15; “Druggist,” 7; “Proprietor,” 2; “Cotton Factor,” 1; and miscellaneous listings (“confectioner, liquor, lumber, coal, fancy store, and jewelry”), 4. Only S. Dryden Stockman & Co. is listed as a “cotton factor,” when in reality a large majority of merchants, grocers, and dry goods firms handled and shipped cotton as a portion of their business. 45 Merchant Communities locally born merchants, while Northern newcomers inflated native-born numbers.

He soon was such an important local businessman that he helped charter the Bank of Mississippi in 1809 and later served as its second president. Postlethwaite’s nephew from Carlisle, twenty-one-year-old Dr. Stephen Duncan, arrived in Natchez in 1808 and soon followed the same path to riches, marrying a daughter of the powerful Ellis family in 1811. 29 Men of all ranks, including the professional classes of doctors, lawyers, bankers, and newspapermen—even preachers—flooded the Natchez District upon word of the quick and easy fortunes to be made on what were 25 Old Ways and New Realities still the reaches of the southwestern frontier.

Steven Duncan quickly married into the planter class, a good percentage of those newcomers were from privileged backgrounds themselves. ” Connections and “social capital” proved invaluable to antebellum planter-merchants. 37 The nabobs and quick-acting newcomers occupied large swaths of available farmland in the district by the mid-1830s—one reason why a large contingent of small subsistence farmers never emerged there. As soil depletion became a factor in that decade, the planters quickly expanded their holdings as part of a “speculative mania” into adjacent counties, onto the Mississippi delta, and across the river in Louisiana.

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