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Unequal FreedomsEthnicity, Race, and White Supremacy in Civil War-Era Charleston$
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Jeff Strickland

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780813060798

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813060798.001.0001

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Postwar Wage Labor and Petty Capital Formation

Postwar Wage Labor and Petty Capital Formation

(p.118) 4 Postwar Wage Labor and Petty Capital Formation
Unequal Freedoms

Jeff Strickland

University Press of Florida

German, Irish, and ethnic entrepreneurs shaped the economic landscape of post–Civil War Charleston. R. G. Dun and Company hired local agents throughout the United States to evaluate the credit-worthiness of local businesses. European immigrants, Jews, women, and African Americans owned and managed businesses that stimulated Charleston’s postwar economic recovery. Moreover, white and black workers served ethnic entrepreneurs in a variety of manual and non-manual occupations. German, Irish, and Jewish business practices had long created tension with native-born white southerners. At the same time, African Americans faced great difficulties in opening or expanding their businesses. Moreover, black Charlestonians did not appreciate the high prices that Germans charged or their refusal to extend them credit, and German liquor merchants prospered, supplying alcohol to African Americans who lived in conditions that were seen as conducive to drinking. Germans had transitioned rapidly from petty entrepreneurs to middle- and upper-class businessmen, and that created more social distance between them and African Americans, while bringing them closer to white Charlestonians.

Keywords:   Working Class, Reconstruction, Ethnic Entrepreneurs, R. G. Dun and Company, German Grocers, Black Charlestonians, Middle Class

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