Abstract: Manufacturing Planters: The Tobacco Business in the Antebellum South

Barbara Hahn


Where did the tobacco industry come from? In the absence of significant data, and rather than assume a textile model of industrialization, this paper explores the practices of tobacco manufacturing and the commercial networks that served it as these developed over the course of the nineteenth century. Cultivating, curing, marketing, manufacturing, transport, storage, packaging, and distribution often consisted of identical activities. Until the Civil War, distinctions among primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors of the industry remained fluid and negotiable. The level at which an article sold helped characterize the activity that produced it. During the war, federal revenue laws defined manufacturing by taxing its products, fostering the monopolistic tendencies of the industry by increasing the transaction costs of small firms and reducing intersectoral competition.