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Old Dominion, Industrial Commonwealth: Coal, Politics, and Economy in Antebellum America
     

Old Dominion, Industrial Commonwealth: Coal, Politics, and Economy in Antebellum America

by Sean Patrick Adams
 

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ISBN-10: 080189400X

ISBN-13: 9780801894008

Pub. Date: 10/16/2009

Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press

In 1796, famed engineer and architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe toured the coal fields outside Richmond, Virginia, declaring enthusiastically, "Such a mine of Wealth exists, I believe, nowhere else!" With its abundant and accessible deposits, growing industries, and network of rivers and ports, Virginia stood poised to serve as the center of the young nation's coal

Overview

In 1796, famed engineer and architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe toured the coal fields outside Richmond, Virginia, declaring enthusiastically, "Such a mine of Wealth exists, I believe, nowhere else!" With its abundant and accessible deposits, growing industries, and network of rivers and ports, Virginia stood poised to serve as the center of the young nation's coal trade. By the middle of the nineteenth century, however, Virginia's leadership in the American coal industry had completely unraveled while Pennsylvania, at first slow to exploit its vast reserves of anthracite and bituminous coal, had become the country's leading producer.

Sean Patrick Adams compares the political economies of coal in Virginia and Pennsylvania from the late eighteenth century through the Civil War, examining the divergent paths these two states took in developing their ample coal reserves during a critical period of American industrialization. In both cases, Adams finds, state economic policies played a major role. Virginia's failure to exploit the rich coal fields in the western part of the state can be traced to the legislature's overriding concern to protect and promote the interests of the agrarian, slaveholding elite of eastern Virginia. Pennsylvania's more factious legislature enthusiastically embraced a policy of economic growth that resulted in the construction of an extensive transportation network, a statewide geological survey, and support for private investment in its coal fields.

Using coal as a barometer of economic change, Old Dominion, Industrial Commonwealth addresses longstanding questions about North-South economic divergence and the role of state government in American industrial development, providing new insights for both political and economic historians of nineteenth-century America.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801894008
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
10/16/2009
Series:
Studies in Early American Economy and Society from the Library Company of Philadelphia
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
324
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures, Maps, and Tablesvii
Series Editor's Forewordix
Acknowledgmentsxi
Introduction: The Political Economy of Coal1
1The Intersection of Politics and Geology: America's First Coal Trade12
2The Commonwealth's Fuel: The Rise of Pennsylvania Anthracite48
3Trunk and Branch: State Internal Improvement Networks and the Coal Trade84
4"Hidden Treasures" and Nasty Politics: Antebellum Geological Surveys in Pennsylvania and Virginia119
5Miners without Souls: Corporations and Coal in Pennsylvania and Virginia152
6Three Separate Paths: The Impact of the Civil War189
Epilogue: Capture and Confusion223
Notes241
Essay on Sources283
Index297

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