“Frontier Capitalism: Market Migration to Rural Central Missouri, 1815-1860,

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Southern Society and Its Transformations, 1790-1860

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Gottfried Duden, a German writer who lived in central Missouri in the 1820s, encouraged the immigration of his fellow countrymen into antebellum Missouri in his Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America, published in 1829. After three years of living on a farm located on the Missouri River west of St. Louis he wrote of the great opportunities available for European immigrants. He glorified pioneer life and emphasized the plentiful natural resources and the availability of cheap land in Missouri. It was “extremely alluring to settle down in regions where one has such complete freedom of choice,” he explained. Americans benefited from the fertility of the land and the plentiful game and fish; livestock even foraged in the forests and fed themselves. The climate was almost perfect for agriculture and he claimed that corn grew more than twelve feet high. Taxes were also low, he boasted. River connections were “splendid” and the Missouri River was “navigable without interruption for over 2,500 miles.” Communication via steamboat was “exceedingly easy” and the region’s rivers tied Missouri settlers to the rest of the nation. In short, Missouri was ideally suited for commerce and farming.


This chapter is published as “Frontier Capitalism: Market Migration to Rural Central Missouri, 1815-1860,” edited by Michelle Gillespie, Susanna Delfino and Louis Kyriakoudes, in Southern Society and Its Transformations, 1790-1860 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2011): 79-101.

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University of Missouri Press



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