By John Majewski
Professor Majewski compares Virginia and Pennsylvania to provide an explanation for how slavery undermined the improvement of the southern economic climate. at the start of the 19th century, citizens in each one country financed transportation advancements to elevate land values and spur advertisement progress. even though, by way of the 1830s, Philadelphia capitalists begun financing Pennsylvania's railroad community, development built-in platforms that reached the Midwest. Virginia's railroads remained a suite of strains with out western connections. the shortcoming of a big urban that can offer capital and site visitors for large-scale railroads used to be the weak point of Virginia's slave financial system.
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Additional resources for A House Dividing: Economic Development in Pennsylvania and Virginia Before the Civil War (Studies in Economic History and Policy)
Albemarle, of course, was hardly unique among Virginia counties. 28 To leave for the West, however popular, was not an easy decision. For many families, the tightly-spun web of kinship networks and social ties offered a powerful inducement to stay. Kin could provide needed credit to expand a farm, emergency labor during the harvest, or financial assistance during hard times. Even young men who resented the smothering constraints of community had to think twice about leaving these reciprocal networks.
After surveying the Rivanna in 1765, Jefferson concluded that clearing a series of small obstructions could convert the stream into a navigable waterway. The young planter secured an act from the colonial assembly that authorized a trusteeship to undertake the "laudable and useful" enterprise. Jefferson and other prominent gentlemen became trustees, collecting voluntary subscriptions and then paying local contractors to remove the obstructions. 1 The trusteeship was not a complete success - a series of navigation and canal companies would attempt to build more permanent improvements over the next 100 years - but Jefferson took considerable pride in his public-spirited efforts.
Stockholders hoped to reap rewards for their investment not so much through direct returns (such as dividends and stock appreciation), but from indirect benefits (increased commerce and higher land values). The financial performance of these transportation corporations, in fact, ranged from merely bad to completely catastrophic: Revenues were low, dividends were rare, and shares often became worthless. For this reason, it is best to think of most transportation enterprises of the early nineteenth century as "developmental corporations" that promised to enrich stockholders less through dividends than by bringing the fruits of market development to local communities.