Cover

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Title Page, About the Series, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-viii

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Introduction

Brian P. Luskey, Wendy A. Woloson

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pp. 1-9

The gaslight of Philadelphia’s street lamps illuminated the work of the successful entrepreneur James Francis during the Civil War era. He managed a crew of employees in two businesses. In the colder months, his team cleaned chimneys. When the weather turned warmer, he became Philadelphia’s “Dog-Killer-in-Chief,” leading his men in the grisly work of rounding up stray dogs...

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1. The Loomis Gang’s Market Revolution

Will B. Mackintosh

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pp. 10-30

Just before dawn on the morning of Sunday, June 17, 1866, a mob of angry citizens gathered in the semidarkness about a mile from the Loomis farm in Sangerfield, New York. The Loomis dogs had been poisoned the night before, and the vigilantes quickly rousted the family from their beds and set fire to the house and barns. They hanged two family members from a nearby tree...

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2. The Promiscuous Economy: Cultural and Commercial Geographies of Secondhand in the Antebellum City

Robert J. Gamble

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pp. 31-52

Few streetscapes captured the enticing qualities of early nineteenth-century capitalism better than Philadelphia’s Chestnut Street. Visitors to the city’s most famous commercial street in the 1840s and 1850s, like Englishman William Chambers, observed “the thronging of well-dressed people” and its “large stores shewing a long vista of elegant counters, shelving, and glass-cases, such...

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3. The Era of Shinplasters: Making Sense of Unregulated Paper Money

Joshua R. Greenberg

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pp. 53-75

In March 1837, Illinois governor Joseph Duncan approved legislation incorporating the Dixon Hotel Company in Dixon’s Ferry.1 There was no bank in the new and expanding frontier town, so the company also asked for the right to issue paper money, but legislators struck out that part of the bill and passed it without such permission. The partial victory did not dissuade John...

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4. The Rag Race: Jewish Secondhand Clothing Dealers in England and America

Adam Mendelsohn

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pp. 76-92

“New York,” wrote James Fenimore Cooper in 1846, was a “Rag-Fair sort of place.” By the time he penned these words, the city had secured its position as the mercantile and financial capital of the United States. For all of its commercial glories, the city, with its “hobble-dehoy look,” reminded Cooper of Rag Fair, the tattered clothing mart centered on Petticoat Lane in London...

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5. Lickspittles and Land Sharks: The Immigrant Exploitation Business in Antebellum New York

Brendan P. O’Malley

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pp. 93-108

In August 1844, William Brown, a clothier from Leeds, sailed from Liverpool to New York with his family in a second-class cabin aboard the packet ship Oxford of the Black Ball Line. The vessel carried roughly three hundred Irish passengers in steerage. As the ship glided across New York’s Upper Bay at the end of the journey, Brown admired the “splendid city” coming into view. He...

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6. “The World Is But One Vast Mock Auction”: Fraud and Capitalism in Nineteenth-Century America

Corey Goettsch

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pp. 109-126

In July 1845, the New York Herald printed a story about a swindle that was commonplace in antebellum New York City: the mock auction. The article recounts the story of “John Brown,” a “verdant youth” from the “wild woods of New Hampshire.” He was walking down Chatham Street when his “attention was arrested by the cries of an auctioneer—‘going, going, for only...

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7. Underground on the High Seas: Commerce, Character, and Complicity in the Illegal Slave Trade

Craig B. Hollander

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pp. 127-149

The United States banned Americans from participating in the transatlantic slave trade through a series of state and federal laws, culminating in the 1807 Slave Trade Act.1 The market for African slaves was far from closed, however. With foreign planters in the Caribbean and Brazil offering enormous sums for new slaves, numerous American merchants attempted to outfit illicit slaving...

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8. “Some Rascally Business”: Thieving Slaves, Unscrupulous Whites, and Charleston’s Illicit Waterfront Trade

Michael D. Thompson

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pp. 150-167

On August 21, 1835, a master cooper in Charleston, South Carolina, named Jacob Schirmer recorded in his diary that “Lynch Law was exhibited this morning on the person of a Mr. Carroll, who has been carrying on the business of a Barber, but who has attended more to the purchase of Stolen cotton...

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9. Selling Sex and Intimacy in the City: The Changing Business of Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Baltimore

Katie M. Hemphill

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pp. 168-189

In the early nineteenth century, Baltimore’s deep-water harbor at Fells Point was a booming site of maritime commerce and the gateway through which many visitors entered the city. When young Pennsylvania native William Darlington visited Baltimore late in the summer of 1803, he rode through the streets surrounding the Point’s wharves. “I have always been notorious,” Darlington...

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10. Economies of Print in the Nineteenth-Century City

Paul Erickson

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pp. 190-214

A Cincinnati bookseller’s scrapbook on the book trade in Ohio raises questions about the historiography of American business. A late nineteenth-century article from a trade magazine evaluating the “leading book dealers in Columbus” pasted into the scrapbook lists ten businesses, four of which were newsstands (three in hotels, one at the train depot). The anonymous evaluator...

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11. Back Number Budd: An African American Pioneer in the Old Newspaper and Information Management Business

Ellen Gruber Garvey

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pp. 215-232

Americans in the mid- to late nineteenth century felt overwhelmed by the abundance of cheap printed matter in circulation. It was full of valuable information, but how should they store it and find unindexed material again? “Many beautiful, interesting, and useful thoughts come to us through the newspapers, that are never seen in books, where they can be referred to when...

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Conclusion

Brian P. Luskey, Wendy A. Woloson

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pp. 233-236

The contributors to this volume offer interpretive frameworks for studying previously neglected markets and the people who created, negotiated, and debated them. The authors illuminate how these economies worked, identify who participated in them, and clarify the ways Americans appraised value and legitimacy in the nineteenth century. These essays give us a better sense...

Notes

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pp. 237-302

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Contributors

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pp. 303-306

Paul Erickson received his PhD in American studies from the University of Texas at Austin and is currently Director of Academic Programs at the American Antiquarian Society...

Index

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pp. 307-314

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 315-316

Although we have both been interested in economic history’s dark and hidden corners for some time, it has taken us years to pull our ideas together into something resembling a cohesive whole. Finally, we had a great idea: why don’t we get other people to do most of the work for us? We are delighted to be able to thank those people...