United in Credit: Atlantic Financial Relationships and the Plantation South, 1800-1860

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Jo in the arms of Coco, Pine St somewhere in the South
My mother Jo in the arms of Coco*, Pine St. somewhere in the South

My mother Jo, who as I mentioned, took me to see Gone with the Wind countless times. blamed slavery on the Northern businessmen. It may seem like a facile excuse, but apparently there is enough blame to go around.

Kathryn Boodry of Harvard presented her thesis proposal. Seth Rockman (Brown University) and Caitlin Rosenthal (Harvard University) were commentators.

Kathryn Boodry at the Workshop on the Political Economy of Modern Capitalism

Sven Beckert, Caitin Rosenthal, Kathryn Boodry, Seth Rockman, Louis Hyman. Beckert and Hyman are the unindicted co-conspirators cofacilitators of the seminar.

There were, in the antebellum period1, two distinct sets of labor relations in the South and North – slavery and ‘free labor’ repsectively2. According to Kathryn, the conventional wisdom is to view these as two separate economic systems. However, due to capital flows – trading and lending – the two are inextricably linked to the point that Kathryn proposes that they should be viewed as two parts of a single system. In fact, she finds including the end use of cotton in England to be essential to the analysis – not the American economy, the Atlantic economy. They’re kind of big on that kind of stuff at the Warren Center. A seminar participant from the Caribbean pointed out that due to trade in sugar cane and rum Atlantic economy should include theĀ  Caribbean. Jack Womack was not there to represent South America, which does, if I remember correctly, border the Atlantic.

…more to come…


The workshop website.

*Coco was a servant at the time ~1917-18. My mother argues that the slaves must have been happy because they stayed on with the families as servants. My argument, underscored by an African scholar I know, ‘what choice did they have?’

1I have to admit that in the preGoogle period, I never got it together to look up antebellum.

2Lauren Coyle, who was an editor of Unbound last year, objected that ‘free labor’ is a misnomer. “Where can you find working class people whose work is not coerced?” Professor Seth rejoined that there were differences in the details of compensation and the levels of violence used in the two cases.

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‘Never Again’ to whom?

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