Participation Type

Paper

About the Presenter

Robert L. BakerFollow

Presentation #1 Title

Graysville: John D. Gray and Industrial Slavery the Northwest Georgia Mountains

Presentation #1 Abstract or Summary

Appalachia is often stereotyped as a people who are backward, poor, and primarily white. The same is true for how many remember the region’s antebellum history. The collective memory of Appalachia before the Civil War is one of mostly white yeoman farmers who were not a part of the deep south slave economy. Despite the work of historians and other notable academics in the field, the region of Appalachia is depicted as largely void of the peculiar institution. This paper will demonstrate how Catoosa County, a small county in the northwest Georgia mountains, defies the stereotypes of a homogeneous white and slaveless Appalachian society. It is true that census records in 1860 reveal Catoosa County to be an area with fewer slaves and less owners than average. However, it will be argued through the use of primary source material and newspaper articles from that era that the census numbers are misleading. By focusing on one of Catoosa County’s many entrepreneurs, John D. Gray, it will be demonstrated that the number of slaves in Catoosa County was higher and that the slaves maintained an important part in this antebellum Appalachia county. Additionally, the focus on Gray will show that slavery played a major role in the area’s emerging, and very modern, industrial economy.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #1

Robert L. Baker is a graduate of the University of North Georgia with a Masters in Education and a Masters in American History. He is currently a public school teacher at Collins Hill High School

 

Graysville: John D. Gray and Industrial Slavery the Northwest Georgia Mountains

Appalachia is often stereotyped as a people who are backward, poor, and primarily white. The same is true for how many remember the region’s antebellum history. The collective memory of Appalachia before the Civil War is one of mostly white yeoman farmers who were not a part of the deep south slave economy. Despite the work of historians and other notable academics in the field, the region of Appalachia is depicted as largely void of the peculiar institution. This paper will demonstrate how Catoosa County, a small county in the northwest Georgia mountains, defies the stereotypes of a homogeneous white and slaveless Appalachian society. It is true that census records in 1860 reveal Catoosa County to be an area with fewer slaves and less owners than average. However, it will be argued through the use of primary source material and newspaper articles from that era that the census numbers are misleading. By focusing on one of Catoosa County’s many entrepreneurs, John D. Gray, it will be demonstrated that the number of slaves in Catoosa County was higher and that the slaves maintained an important part in this antebellum Appalachia county. Additionally, the focus on Gray will show that slavery played a major role in the area’s emerging, and very modern, industrial economy.