An original history of the railroad in the Old South that challenges the accepted understanding of economic and industrial growth in antebellum America. Drawing from both familiar and overlooked sources, such as the personal diaries of Southern travelers, papers and letters from civil engineers, corporate records, and contemporary newspaper accounts, Aaron W. Marrs skillfully expands on the conventional business histories that have characterized scholarship in this field. He situates railroads in the fullness of antebellum life, examining how slavery, technology, labor, social convention, and the environment shaped their evolution. Far from seeing the Old South as backward and premodern, Marrs finds evidence of urban life, industry, and entrepreneurship throughout the region. But these signs of progress existed alongside efforts to preserve traditional ways of life. Railroads exemplified Southerners' pursuit of progress on their own terms: developing modern transportation while retaining a conservative social order. Railroads in the Old Southdemonstrates that a simple approach to the Old South fails to do justice to its complexity and contradictions. "The time is right to bring the South into the story of the economic transformation of antebellum America. Aaron Marrs does this with force and grace inRailroads in the Old South." -John L. Larson, Purdue University "I am hard pressed to think of another volume that better catches the overall effect railroads had on the Old South." -Kenneth W. Noe, Auburn University "Interesting regional history... It is a thoughtful and instructive study that examines not only the pervasiveness of transportation but also some of the social, political, and economic consequences associated with the evolution of southern railroads." -Choice
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