Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Mary Mitchell

Second Advisor

Connie Atkinson

Third Advisor

Robert Dupont


After the American Civil War, and the collapse of the market in slave-produced cotton in the South, cotton merchants in New Orleans faced challenges in re-establishing the city as a central port for Southern cotton. As commodities exchanges emerged as centralized spaces for business in the 1870s, a new class of experts emerged, upon whose reports traders bought and sold newly developed securities derivatives. Henry G. Hester (1846- 1934), Secretary of the New Orleans Cotton Exchange, was an integral player in the development of the methods that governed sophisticated commodities trading around the world. His career at the New Orleans Cotton Exchange tells the story of the arrival of these methods and subsequent downfall of Euro-American centrality in the global cotton empire and contradicts previous histories that deemphasize Southern businesspersons’ contributions to modernization.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.