Debt, Investment, Slaves: Credit Relations in East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, 1825-85 (Hardback)
  • Debt, Investment, Slaves: Credit Relations in East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, 1825-85 (Hardback)
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Debt, Investment, Slaves: Credit Relations in East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, 1825-85 (Hardback)

(author)
£43.50
Hardback 256 Pages / Published: 31/08/1994
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Richard Kilbourne has produced a comprehensive study of the credit system in one Louisiana parish in the antebellum and postbellum periods of the Civil War. East Feliciana Parish was important in terms of both population and the large number of slaves. This book's primary concern is the role of slave property in collateralizing credit relationships and planter perceptions regarding slaves as financial assets. A thorough survey of parish mortgage records and other manuscript collections led to the conclusion that most credit relationships, collateralized and uncollateralized, were grounded in slave property as opposed to land or other forms of wealth. Uncollateralized debt was directly dependent on the relative wealth of parish residents, and the bulk of most portfolios consisted of slaves. Emancipation and the Civil War occasioned a monumental credit implosion from which the local economy never recovered, at least for the remainder of the 19th century. Kilbourne makes an extensive examination of postwar debt distress and the evolution of sharecropping and tenancy. Even the wealthiest households were in the throes of debt distress as was evidenced by the numerous suits brought by wives for separations of property. A peculiar recording requirement for crop privileges and pledges in the years from 1870 to 1880 made it possible to determine the amount of credit available in the postwar decades. Kilbourne shows that credit facilities contracted by 90 percent in the two decades following the Civil War. The decline in credit facilities parallels the decline in household wealth levels. Kilbourne disagrees with earlier scholars on the role of furnishing merchants in shaping the postbellumagricultural order. Furnishing merchants did become relatively more important in financing agriculture in the postwar decade, but they were not the successors of antebellum firms. Local merchants actually provided less credit than they had furnished before the Civil War to small cotton

Publisher: The University of Alabama Press
ISBN: 9780817307301
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 590 g
Dimensions: 230 x 163 x 22 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"A major contribution to our understanding of the economic role played by slave property." --Tony Freyer, The University of Alabama School of Law


"This very detailed case study makes a strong argument that we can dismiss the idea of an antebellum South crippled by debt. Instead, slaves were used as collateral to produce an economically health and flexible credit system--a system, however, which collapsed with the fall of slavery." --Michael Tadman, University of Liverpool

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