Port in a Storm, 1840–1880

Margaret M. Mulrooney

in Race, Place, and Memory

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print February 2018 | ISBN: 9780813054926
Published online September 2018 | e-ISBN: 9780813053462 | DOI:
Port in a Storm, 1840–1880

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This chapter outlines the dramatic changes underway in Wilmington and in North Carolina during this period. Wilmington’s white elite actively embraced progress, becoming more and more pro-business and industry even as they maintained ties to agricultural production and plantation culture. At the same time, a white middle class emerged that included newcomers from the north and Europe as well as homegrown entrepreneurs. Industrial activity was not only integral to the port city’s development as a distinctive place, but it sparked spatial, social, economic, political, and cultural changes that helped free and enslaved blacks to resist their oppression. By 1850, the city’s most progressive, forward-thinking whites were struggling to maintain their supremacy and so they looked, ironically, to the past, especially remembrances of the colonial era as well as traditional modes of organized violence. During the stormy years of sectional crisis, southern rebellion, and Reconstruction, these efforts increased dramatically, but so did black Wilmingtonians’ use of similar methods to gain freedom and citizenship.

Keywords: Plantation culture; White supremacy; Reconstruction

Chapter.  24195 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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