Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Slave Clothes and Commerce

Those that discount the level of influence slavery had on the slave states' economy might be interested to see some evidence to the contrary.

H. Strauss in Frankfort, Kentucky, advertised his new clothing store in that town's Daily Commonwealth in 1861. In that ad he mentioned having among a number of other items "NEGRO CLOTHING" that was apparently ready made for slaves. Advertising such items obviously made sense to this seller looking to make money.

Similarly, J. R. Emmit & Company in Louisville advertised in the Louisville Daily Democrat in March 1861, for his products including "NEGRO GOODS" . . . "at a Great Sacrifice!"

Louisville Woolen Mills offered FINE KENTUCKY JEANS in an October 1861 ad that ran in the Louisville Daily Journal. They noted at the bottom of the advertisement that they had "A good supply of NEGRO JEANS" . . . "on hand."  Negro jeans was a type of cloth that was woven at a rougher grade than normal jeans and which was used to make slaves' clothing.

Slave owners were marketed to for a reason. Merchants knew that most owners has a level of wealth. In addition, they also knew that owners had a valuable commodity who needed the basics of life for which the sellers would be only too willing to supply.

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