"Entrepreneurs in the Southern Upcountry, well written and impressively researched, advances an important argument about continuity in the mid-nineteenth-century South's outlook on capitalism and social progress. It will find a ready audience among historians interested in the South, the nineteenth century, and the U.S. economy. Eelman's work will provoke discussion, which is what good history should do."
—Frank Towers, author of The Urban South and the Coming of the Civil War
"In this well-researched case study, Eelman makes an important contribution to the historiography of the nineteenth-century South. If he has not relegated Genovese or Woodward to the dustbin of history, he has demonstrated that parts of their arguments need adjustment."
"Like nearly all important books, Eelman's study of entrepreneurial culture in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, defies easy classification. . . . This is a complex and dense—in the best possible sense—book that engages in a number of important historical debates, and it should attract attention from many segments of the profession."
"Recent, compelling works by Mark Smith, Chad Morgan, and Jonathan Daniel Wells have revealed tremendous economic, social, and even political antecedents for the postwar South in its formative antebellum years. Eelman's book builds upon this literature to establish quite convincingly how so much that seemed new or 'modern' in the postwar South originated decades before secession."
—American Historical Review
"Well-argued and linked to broad historical issues . . . a model community study that deserves a wide readership."
—Journal of American History
By the 1840s, Spartanburg merchants, manufacturers, lawyers, and other professionals were looking to capitalize on the area’s natural resources by promoting iron and textile mills and a network of rail lines. Recognizing that cultural change had to accompany material change, these businessmen also worked to reshape legal and educational institutions. Their prewar success was limited, largely due to lowcountry planters’ political power. However, their modernizing spirit would serve as an important foundation for postwar development.
Although the Civil War brought unprecedented trauma to the Spartanburg community, the modernizing merchants, industrialists, and lawyers strengthened their political and social clout in the aftermath. As a result, much of the modernizing blueprint of the 1850s was realized in the 1870s. Eelman finds that Spartanburg’s modernizers slowed legal and educational reform only when its implementation seemed likely to empower African Americans.
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List price: $44.95
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