Cotton City: Urban Development in Antebellum Mobile

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9780817311209: Cotton City: Urban Development in Antebellum Mobile

Antebellum Mobile was a cotton port city, and economic dependence upon the North created by the cotton trade controlled the city’s development. Mobile’s export trade placed the city third after New York and New Orleans in total value of exports for the nation by 1860. Because the exports consisted almost entirely of cotton headed for Northern and foreign textile mills, Mobile depended on Northern businessmen for marketing services. Nearly all the city’s imports were from New York: Mobile had the worst export-import imbalance of all antebellum ports. As the volume of cotton exports increased, so did the city’s population—from1,500 in 1820 to 30,000 in 1860. Amos’s study delineates the basis for Mobile’s growth and the ways in which residents and their government promoted growth and adapted to it. Because some of the New York banking, shipping, and marketing firms maintained local agencies, a significant number of Northern-born businessmen participated widely in civic affairs. This has afforded the author the opportunity to explore the North-South relationship in economic and personal terms, in one important city, during a period of increasing sectional tension.

 

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About the Author:

Harriet E. Amos is Assistant Professor of History, The University of Alabama in Birmingham.

 

Review:

“A well-written and well-researched monograph on Mobile’s ante-bellum urban development.”—Journal of Southern History

“An unusually good study of southern city—thoroughly researched, carefully organized, and well written.”—Leonard P. Curry

“This is the best study of ante-bellum Mobile produced to date, and makes significant contributions to our understanding of the urban old South. Amos thoroughly documents her contention that the more prosperous merchants dominated both the economic and social life of the city. The research is impressive, the bibliography is excellent, and the book is well organized.”—Melton A. McLaurin

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