The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815–1860

The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815–1860

Calvin Schermerhorn

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0300192002

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Calvin Schermerhorn’s provocative study views the development of modern American capitalism through the window of the nineteenth-century interstate slave trade. This eye-opening history follows money and ships as well as enslaved human beings to demonstrate how slavery was a national business supported by far-flung monetary and credit systems reaching across the Atlantic Ocean. The author details the anatomy of slave supply chains and the chains of credit and commodities that intersected with them in virtually every corner of the pre–Civil War United States, and explores how an institution that destroyed lives and families contributed greatly to the growth of the expanding republic’s capitalist economy.




















Washington City in 1841, and Rescued in 1853 (Auburn, N.Y.: Derby and Miller, 1853), 17–27, 99; David Fiske, Clifford W. Brown, and Rachel Seligman, Solomon Northup: The Complete Story of the Author of Twelve Years a Slave (Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2013), chap. 2; David Fiske, Solomon Northup: His Life before and after Slavery (Ballston Spa, N.Y.: the author, 2012), 9–21; Edith Hay Wyckoff, The Autobiography of an American Family (Fort Edward, N.Y.: Washington County Historical Society, 2000),

(iv), (v), (vi), (vii), (viii), (ix), (x). See also Northup, Solomon Kiowa nation, (i), (ii) la Vergne, Count Pierre de, (i) Lady Monroe (merchant ship), (i), (ii) Lafayette, Marquis de, (i) Lafitte, Jean and Pierre, (i) LaLaurie, Delphine, (i) Lansot, A. D., Compte Hugues de la Vergne, (i) Laporte, Jean Baptiste, (i) Latin America: British interests in, (i), (ii), (iii); French interests in, (i), (ii); proslavery expansionism and, (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) Latrobe, Benjamin Henry,

his father, Vincent Rillieux, and the elder Rillieux died suddenly in July 1833 at his New Orleans cotton press. The family suspected that Forstall had killed him in a duel. Disagreements and death derailed Forstall’s invitation to Norbert Rillieux to work for him. Soulié departed New Orleans in 1833, and, after returning from Paris, Norbert Rillieux went to work for a competitor instead.46 Despite Forstall’s difficulties recruiting and retaining technological experts, his refinery became the

hungry. Franklin, on the other hand, needed to remit capital constantly during a selling season. Watts was bought in part with proceeds from slave sales that occurred earlier that year, and proceeds from his sale paid for more captives that winter. Demand for credit from customers and capital from purchasing managers taxed Franklin’s scheme of internal financing. He held tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of illiquid debt instruments while increasing his sales volume. That winter Franklin

he met several others whose fortunes fell at Birch’s hands. Eliza’s world was shattering. Her children, seven-year-old Emily and ten-year-old Randall, were, like their mother, sold and jailed. Eliza had been enslaved in Maryland and had made a choiceless choice to live as a concubine with her owner, the Prince George’s County planter Elisha Berry. Berry’s behavior mocked his marriage and alienated his wife and her family. While Northup was being kidnapped, Berry’s son-in-law took Eliza to

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