The arrival of the first steamboat, the New Orleans, in early 1812 touched off an economic revolution in the South. In states west of the Appalachian Mountains, running steamboats quickly grew into a booming business that would lead to new cultural practices and a stronger sectional identity.
In Steamboats and the Rise of the Cotton Kingdom, Robert Gudmestad examines the wide-ranging influence of steamboats on the southern economy. From carrying cash crops to market, to contributing to slave productivity, increasing the flexibility of labor, and connecting southerners to overlapping orbits of regional, national, and international markets, steamboats not only benefitted slaveholders and northern industries, but also affected cotton production.
This technology literally put people into motion, and travelers developed an array of unique cultural practices, from gambling to boat races. Gudmestad also asserts that the intersection of these riverboats and the environment reveals much about sectional identity in antebellum America. As federal funds backed railroad construction instead of clearing waterways for steamboats, southerners looked to coordinate their own economic development, free of national interests.
Steamboats and the Rise of the Cotton Kingdom offers new insights into the remarkable and significant history of transportation and commerce in the prewar South.
©2011 Louisiana State University Press (P)2012 Redwood Audiobooks
"This thoroughly researched, well-written book expertly explains steamboats' role in the economic, social, political, and enviromental changes that created and transformed the cotton kingdom." (Michael Allen, author of The Confederation Congress and the Creation of the American Trans-Appalachian Settlement Policy)
"Packed with fresh insights into the Old South, this important book sheds light on the integral role that the steamboat played in making the cottom kingdom and connecting the interior South to the rest of the world." (Frank Towers, author of The Urban South and the Coming of the Civil War)
Steamboats and the Rise of the Cotton Kingdom is one good book. Don’t let the fact that it is published by an academic press (Louisiana State University Press) keep you from turning some pages. I love the Mississippi River and enjoy reading about it historically and technically, but even the disinterested will find much to enjoy here. Robert Gudmestad brings the early steamboat days on The River to life. The portraits he paints of slavery on The River, passengers, accidents, and the cotton trade reward any time the reader might spend on the volume. The reading of Fred Filbrich is a plus!
I learned a great deal and was introduced to life in the Antebellum South in the years prior to the Civil War. It was obvious Gudmestad had spent a tremendous amount of time in research in order to gather all the stories, newspaper articles, and data to write this book. His weaving of facts with detailed storied accounts from the people of the day was engaging and motivated me to listen on.
This book is so much richer than an academic description of steamboats in the early 1800s. Rather than a dry textbook, this audiobook transported me back to that age and allowed me to experience the sights, sounds, smells, hopes, dreams, and stark realities of the Antebellum South.
Good steady voice which was easy to follow.
Yes! Fascinating story and very good narration
Discussion of the Indians and Buffalo relation
Very favorably impressed
“Steamboats and the rise of the Cotton Kingdom” by
Is a true “sleeper” of a History. I wish the title were more enticing because the book is about a lot, lot about steamboats and the aura of the era and much less about “the Cotton Kingdom”. In fact, it’s examination of the cotton kingdom, per se, is quite modest.
The great thing it does is provide clear-eyed accounts of what steamboat travel and the steamboat roles actually were. The discussions are intelligent, candid and forthright, and shed welcome light on many facets of 19th Century life that most history books (and certainly textbooks) either ignore, gussy-up or deny.
As just one of several examples – it can be said the steamboat is as much a part of the history of blacks as is the plantation. And working on the rivers was a more effective conduit for blacks to freedom than the , vaunted and mostly mythical “Underground Railroad”. The reason, in a nutshell, is that the river work provided mobility, a chance to learn “acceptable” (white) manners and demeanor, and often to earn money with or without the approval of one’s “owner”.
It also shows the political “sacred cow” known as the Cherokee’s “Trail of Tears” in a much more honest light, as well as debunking the demonhood of Andrew Jackson on the Indians and also on Federal help with internal improvements. It examines how steamboats affected everything from the environment to war to diets and beyond. It even discusses some of the areas where Mr. Riverboat himself, Mr. Twain, blurred fact and fancy.
It is clearly an informed and splendid treatise on the steamboat and its’ impact – one of the very most important society-changing influences in our history. It also gives the reader delicious peeks into the American fabric – the stuff of Great, Great-Grandfathers’ days- and provides in warm fashion part of the grand tale of “how we got from there to here”.
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