Front cover image for The Antebellum Kanawha salt business and western markets

The Antebellum Kanawha salt business and western markets

John E. Stealey (Author)
In the early nineteenth century a ten-mile stretch along the Kanawha River in western Virginia became the largest salt-producing area in the antebellum United States. Production of this basic commodity stimulated settlement, the livestock industry, and the rise of agricultural processing, especially pork packing, in the American West. The Virginia saltmakers dominated their locality in capital access, labor supply, and manipulation of public policy. Salt extraction was then and is now a fundamental industry. In his illuminating study, John Stealey examines the legal basis of this industry, its labor practices, and its marketing and distribution patterns. To control output and markets, the saltmakers created legal combinations - output pools, lease/re-lease contracts, joint stock companies, and a proposed trust - that are the earliest such examples in the United States. These combinations drew national opposition from western consumers and a crusade to reduce the salt tariff that revealed the international aspects of salt commerce. By eliminating middlemen in distribution, the Virginia salt producers anticipated later nineteenth-century manufacturers who tried to control prices and marketing. Their struggle with rationalization of factory management and marketing operations marks them as premodern business pioneers. Through technological innovation, they harnessed coal and steam as well as men and animals, constructed a novel evaporative system, and invented drilling tools later employed in oil and natural gas exploration. Thus in many ways the salt industry was the precursor of the American extractive and chemical industries. Stealey's informative study is an important contribution to American economic, business, labor, and legal history
eBook, English, 2016
West Virginia University Press, Morgantown [West Virginia], 2016
1 online resource (288 pages) : illustrations, tables, charts
9781943665310, 1943665311
Available in another form:
1. Kanawha salt's savor
2. Early development and expansion
3. Growth, chaos, and combination, 1811-1824
4. Kanawha salt's use and its pre-1850 markets
5. The manufacturing process and technological progress
6. Manufacturers and state intervention
7. Merchant capitalists, independent manufacturers, and local economic developments, 1825-1835
8. Hewitt, Ruffner & Company and Depression, 1836-1846
9. The Kanawha producers and the salt tariff
10. White labor, subsidiary industries, and furnace managers
11. Slavery in the Kanawha salt industry
12. The Kanawha Salt Association and Ruffner, Donnally & Company, 1847-1855
13. Ruffner, Donnally & Company and the external economy
14. Kanawha salt loses its economic savor
15. Perspectives
"First edition published 1993 by University Press of Kentucky"--Title page verso