Black Townsmen: Urban Slavery and Freedom in the by Mariana L. R. Dantas (auth.)

By Mariana L. R. Dantas (auth.)

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Apparently, white clothes were not much appreciated, but those in blue and green were in great demand. Cruz also regretted not having more wigs, writing that had he brought more he would have quickly sold them all. 43 Cruz’s letters also commented on the local economy and its potential for larger profits. 44 Encouraged by these favorable prospects, Francisco da Cruz decided to open a store in Sabará. In that same year, he purchased a house in town and worked on the necessary renovations. Because he was still tied to his obligations as a public notary, he also hired an assistant capable of writing and counting to help him keep the business ledgers.

86 By supplying Baltimore and Sabará with a variety of essential commodities, petty merchants in both towns carried out the important task of linking these urban economies to a local network of surrounding rural areas and smaller urban nuclei. The distribution and sale of cachaça—an alcoholic beverage obtained through the distillation of molasses—in Sabará is a case in point. 87 The activities of caixeiros viajantes (peddlers) offer another example of the economic exchange that merchants promoted and maintained between town and country.

32 In 1748, an inspection house that was initially planned for Ragland Landing, on the Patapsco River, was instead built in Baltimore Town. The change of location resulted from a representation of “sundry of the Inhabitants of St. 35 Because the cultivation of grain was aimed at supplying an internal market, or, at most, British colonies in the Caribbean, this crop was not as attractive to English merchant houses as tobacco was, allowing local merchants to organize its trade instead. Also, because grain was cultivated in the backlands of the colonies of Maryland and Pennsylvania, grain planters could not transport their product to commercial ships as easily as tobacco planters did, thus creating a demand for the facilities to process and store it, and the services of carriers to transport it to the nearest commercial port.

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