Title page for ETD etd-06072007-110638

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Todd, Sam Beardsley
Author's Email Address stodd4@lsu.edu
URN etd-06072007-110638
Title The Politics of Improvement:Internal Improvements, Sectionalism, and Slavery in Mississippi, 1820-1837
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
William J. Cooper Committee Chair
Gaines Foster Committee Member
Paul F. Paskoff Committee Member
  • Slavery
  • Economics
  • Antebellum
Date of Defense 2007-05-17
Availability unrestricted
The increased consensus among historians that the emergence of a market revolution engendered widespread economic, political, and social changes throughout the second quarter of nineteenth-century America has brought a number of provocative questions to bear on the antebellum South. Among the most provocative is the assertion that during the 1830s, a strain of reform-minded southern planters took it upon themselves to integrate the regions subsistence farmers into the market economy. The historian Harry Watson has asserted that a small, but influential, group of southern planters sought to confront Dixie’s dilemma of pursuing a modern economy without cutting ties with the archaic and brutal system of slave labor. For these forward-thinking planters the promotion of internal improvements represented the most logical strategy for accomplishing such disparate goals.

Mississippi provides and excellent location to perform a test case. Specifically, this study will examine events in Mississippi beginning 1820, at the time of the state capitol’s relocation to Jackson, until the economic crash of 1837. My purpose is to seek out attitudes and behaviors found in Watson’s study, without overlooking events and circumstances particular to life in Mississippi during the 1820s and 1830s.

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