Plantation Goods and the International Economy of Slavery, 1700-1888


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships




This project focuses on the shoes, shovels, machetes, shirts, livestock, and whips manufactured in the North for use on plantations in the American South, Caribbean, and Latin America. Using insights from material culture studies, this study considers the multiple meanings of "plantation goods" as they moved great distances and fell into different hands. A Connecticut-produced hoe opens up a range of narrative possibilities for situating entrepreneurs, immigrant laborers, planters, and slaves in the same story of American economic development. Likewise, these material artifacts illuminate issues of slave resistance, abolitionism, Southern nationalism, technological innovation, and commercial cultures. Plantation goods ultimately argue for the centrality of slavery in American economic history.