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Economic Mobility into the Planter Class in Texas, 1846-1860

Economic Mobility into the Planter Class in Texas, 1846-1860

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Date: December 2011
Creator: Nelson, Robert Nicholas
Description: This study examines upward economic mobility into the planter class in Texas during the antebellum statehood period, 1846-1860. Using quantitative methods to analyze data from census and tax records, this study addresses several questions regarding the property owning experience of Texas planters. Did any of the 1860 planters, men or women, rise to that status from another class? If so, how many rose from small slaveholder or small planter origins, and how many advanced from plain folk origins? In what ways did the amount and nature of wealth of these individuals change in the period studied? In what ways do these findings provide insights into the debate over planter dominance versus ‘plain folk’ inclusive herrenvolk democracy and the relationship between the planters and the other classes? Did the experiences of female planters differ from that of male planters? Did female planter experiences in Texas differ from female planters in other parts of the Old South? The results of these questions demonstrate that economic class mobility into the richest class was significant but limited and that women’s experiences were closely tied to those of male kin.
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