The Case of Jacob and Moses Stroup
This paper demonstrates that ironmakers in the antebellum Lower South, far from being isolated, participated in multiple networks that reveal a high degree of technological sophistication and awareness of national and international developments in their field. Jacob and Moses Stroup, a father and son, were the premier ironmakers and furnace builders of their day in the Lower South. As the Stroups built furnaces across the Carolinas, Georgia, and Alabama, and trained the men who would midwife Birmingham, Alabama, into existence, they took advantage of kinship and ethnic networks, traveled broadly to visit the most advanced ironworks in the United States, and interacted with an international class of engineers drawn to northern Georgia by the Southern gold rush of the 1830s and 1840s. Building on recent work by historians such as Aaron Marrs, Michele Gillespie, Susanna Delfino, Craig Friend, Jennifer Green, and Jonathan Wells on topics of technology, kinship, and professionalization, the paper demonstrates the marriage of kinship and technological networks in the formation of a professional class in the American South.
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