Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




This dissertation used the development of Fredericksburg, Virginia from the middle of the eighteenth century to 1810 to study urbanization in the South, and tests the usefulness of the staple thesis in explaining the process.;Fredericksburg began as a tobacco town which grew slowly until about 1750 when the opening of new foreign markets for American corn and wheat launched it into a period of growth and prosperity. as grain moved through Fredericksburg to world markets, skilled workers moved to town to service the trade. The needs of this new population were met by other craftsmen who established consumer industries. By the Revolution the local economy had diversified and prominent citizens anticipated additional growth and development.;The Revolution itself stimulated manufacturing in Fredericksburg. Located on the main road between the northern and southern states and on another road between Tidewater and the Piedmont, the town was a major supply point for American troops. A small arms manufactory and iron works were beneficiaries of the wartime market.;After the Revolution wheat exporting continued to attract capital and labor until about 1800. Shoe manufacturers, soap and candle makers, bottlers, rope makers, and others served the consumer needs of the local population. By the early years of the new century, however, the economy stagnated. Other areas more advantageously located to the best grain producing areas drained off Fredericksburg's skilled labor. Apprentices found few opportunities in town, so joined a large floating population at the bottom of the economic scale moving from place to place. The number of poor and the cost of maintaining them increased.;Before the War of 1812 Fredericksburg, like Richmond, Alexandria, and Hampton, had become a regional economic political and cultural center within a developing American national economy.



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