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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Gibb Sahib The Advent and Development of Chanties (875* d) RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties 23 Aug 14

It suggests to me that the influence of the increased size of sailing vessels after 1812, while significant, may have been less critical in the development of shanties than has been supposed. The tradition was already there, at least in South Carolina, and the bigger ships and increased commerce merely gave it the opportunity to spread out.

Man, you've just summed up one of the major points of my book - if I can ever get it out! …and with full acknowledgements, of course.

In the spirit of acknowledgements: though the South Carolina site does not credit it, my guess is that Prof. Michael Thompson, History, U Tennessee may have been the person to get the Carr journal excerpts in the remotely-accessible world of the Web. Thompson has worked on labor history in Charleston, and I hope one day we'll hear more from him about what he might have seen in archival material.

Although I haven't been very active writing on Mudcat lately, I think it was in the "Visuals of Chanties at Work" thread that I mentioned one of the main issues that has been driving my research lately. Which is, separating out the factor of "need" from the development of chanties. The common narrative, from "rise" to "fall," is based on what is supposed to have been needed. While practical requirements *were* an issue at various points, however, cultural custom was at least as important a factor. One does things a certain way because, well, that's how one does things. So the focus becomes the sites of cultural exchange / acculturation.

As has long been supposed, the cotton screwing trade was one of the sites. Up to a point, it was all slave labor, although not necessarily unwaged. Perhaps another point can be distinguished of when the labor became (in certain ports, thinking of the Gulf) waged ore highly, and practiced by Freemen of color. Then would be the point that White men entered the trade. This would be one of the notable professions, in Antebellum US, where White and Black men both participated. And though I believe the work gangs were segregated, White men taking up cotton screwing in the 1830s (? - by the 1840s) would be entering a space where "chanting" had been a long-established *custom*.

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