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Abstract (Lang: English):
Archibald DeBow Murphey is a perfect avatar for the boom-and-bust experience after the War of 1812, as well as the modernization of Southern political economy in the wake of the Panic of 1819. Financially ruined by a commercial depression that lingered interminably in his home state of North Carolina, Murphey projected his personal interests (and anxieties) onto the general welfare of the white community by proposing that state support for banking and infrastructure projects replace individual initiative and debt as the driving force behind local economic development. After forfeiting his plantation and slaves—and therefore his reputation—to bankruptcy, Murphey’s dishonor fueled a new progressive agenda for the Old South founded on slave capitalism, white populism and state power, all of which emerged in North Carolina during the great depression of the long 1820s.