Charleston merchants 1790-1819: the structure of a profession
This research investigates the professional trajectory of merchants in Early Republic South Carolina. The goal is to show that southern commerce in this era is more complex than what has been claimed in the current scholarship, which is dominated by discussions of northern merchants. This has been done by examining Charleston Directories from 1790 to 1819 and tracking individual merchants, their professions prior to and after being merchants, and their addresses through the entire period. Quantitatively examining the data compiled shows a complexity and level of risk in middling commerce that is absent in scholarship on Early Republic commerce in the South. Showing this level of dynamism illustrates the importance of understanding southern middling commerce in Early Republic America. It also shows that more research on middling merchants is vital for a full understanding of American export trade in the Early Republic.