TitleBogs of Death: Slavery, the Brazilian Flour Trade, and the Mystery of the Vanishing Millpond in Antebellum Virginia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
JournalJournal of American History
Volume101
Issue1
Start Page19-43
Date Published06/2014
Abstract

This article uncovers significant economic links between antebellum Virginia and southeastern Brazil. Consumer demand in Rio de Janeiro for high-quality Richmond flour led to the collapse of small-time gristmilling throughout the state, as the largest and most technologically advanced flour mills in the nation arose along the banks of the James River in the future capital of the Confederacy. Rural deindustrialization dovetailed with new, elite-driven concerns over the malarial effects of standing water, as well as a desire to expand wheat acreage, spurring the drainage of thousands of acres of abandoned millponds. Thus, the continuing entanglements of a slavery-centered Atlantic economy transformed the rural landscape of piedmont Virginia in the twenty years before the Civil War.

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