Abstract: Operating Early Amerian Railroads: A Comparative Approach
Although the historical literature on railroads of the southern United States is small, southern railroads have generally not fared well when being compared to their northern neighbors. I will be arguing for a reconsideration of southern railroads and employing a comparative framework for much of my discussion. By using this framework, I hope to accomplish two tasks. First, this technique demonstrates that problems faced by the southern railroads were not due to some unique "southernness" or a planter-inspired opposition to modernity, but were rather railroad problems faced by companies nationwide. Second, a comparative approach integrates southern railroads into the historiographical mainstream by demonstrating that they had some of the characteristics lauded by Alfred Chandler in his landmark <i>The Visible Hand</i>. In short, situating southern railroads in a wider national and international context makes their perceived shortcomings appear less problematic.