A Store Almost in Sight: The Economic Transformation of Missouri from the Louisiana Purchase to the Civil War
A Store Almost in Sight tells the story of commercial development in central Missouri from the early days of American settlement following the Louisiana Purchase to the Civil War. Focusing on those counties near or on the Missouri River, historian Jeff Bremer confirms that the history of the frontier is also the history of the spread of capitalist values. The letters, journals, diaries, and travel accounts of Missouri settlers and visitors reveal how small decisions made by Missouri’s rural white settlers—ranging from how much of a certain crop to plant to how many eggs to take to the local store—contributed to the establishment of a market economy in the state.
Most Missourians welcomed the opportunity to take part in commercial markets. Farmwomen sold eggs or butter to peddlers and in nearby towns, while men took surplus corn or pork to stores for credit. Immigrants searched for the most fertile land closest to waterways, to ensure they would have large harvests and an easy way to ship them to market. Families floated farm goods downriver until steamboats transformed rural life by drastically reducing the cost of transportation and boosting farm production and consumption. Traders also trekked west across the plains to trade at the inland entrepôt of Santa Fe. The waves of migrants headed for Oregon and California in the 1840s and 1850s further encouraged commercial development. However, most white settlers lacked the necessary financial means to be capitalists in a technical sense, seeking instead a “competency,” or comfortable independence.
This fresh reinterpretation of the American frontier will interest anyone who wants to understand the economic and social significance of westward migration in U.S. history. It gives the reader a gritty, grassroots sense of how ordinary people made their livings and built communities in the lands newly opened to American settlement.
Michael D. Bailey
The only comprehensive, single-volume survey of magic available, this compelling book traces the history of magic, witchcraft, and superstitious practices such as popular spells or charms from antiquity to the present day. Focusing especially on Europe in the medieval and early modern eras, Michael Bailey also explores the ancient Near East, classical Greece and Rome, and the spread of magical systems_particularly modern witchcraft or Wicca_from Europe to the United States. He examines how magic and superstition have been defined in various historical eras and how these constructions have changed over time. He considers the ways in which specific categories of magic have been condemned, and how those identified as magicians or witches have been persecuted and prosecuted in various societies. Although conceptions of magic have changed over time, the author shows how magic has almost always served as a boundary marker separating socially acceptable actions from illicit ones, and more generally the known and understood from the unknown and occult.
Michael D. Bailey
Witchcraft has proven an important, if difficult, historical subject to investigate and interpret over the last four decades or so. Modern historical research into witchcraft began as an attempt to tease out the worldview of ordinary people in 16th- and 17th-century England, but it quickly expanded to encompass the history of witchcraft in most cultures and societies that have existed with scholarly studies now extending back to the time of earliest law code that punished sorcery, the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.E.), and forward to the last witchcraft cases in England, those of Helen Duncan and Jane Yorke, tried in 1944. There has also been a significant amount of interest in the development of the modern religion of witchcraft, or Wicca, as various forms of neo-paganism continue to attract adherents.