Stinking Stones and Rocks of Gold:
Phosphate, Fertilizer, and Industrialization in Postbellum South Carolina

Shepherd W. McKinley

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South Carolina Historical Society George C. Rogers Jr. Book Award  
“A solid contribution.”—Journal of American History  
“An insightful analysis of the rise of the phosphate and fertilizer industries in the South Carolina lowcountry.”—Business History Review  
“Places the rise of these industries in the context of the struggle for southern economic leadership in the years following the Civil War. . . . A well-written, engaging history.”—Journal of Economic History  
“McKinley posits that the fertilizer industry emancipated former planter elites from the slave-based antebellum economy. . . . Ultimately, manufactured fertilizer contributed to fundamental changes in southern agriculture.”—American Historical Review  
“A significant contribution to the story of industrialization in the New South.”—Choice  
“Illustrates how South Carolina’s abundant phosphate deposits bred vibrant mining and fertilizer industries in Charleston and adjacent environs that helped reshape land, labor, and economy in the heartland of the former Confederacy.”—Journal of Southern History
"A finely layered and important study that fills in gaps in the industrial history of the New South and especially low-country South Carolina."--Sidney Bland, author of Preserving Charleston's Past, Shaping Its Future: The Life and Times of Susan Pringle Frost

"Skillfully blurs the old, comfortable line between Old and New South economies and paints a nuanced picture of the new labor relations in the post-slavery era."--Charles Holden, author of In the Great Maelstrom

In the first book ever written about the impact of phosphate mining on the South Carolina plantation economy, Shepherd McKinley explains how the convergence of the phosphate and fertilizer industries carried long-term impacts for America and the South.

Fueling the rapid growth of lowcountry fertilizer companies, phosphate mining provided elite plantation owners a way to stem losses from emancipation. At the same time, mining created an autonomous alternative to sharecropping, enabling freed people to extract housing and labor concessions.

Stinking Stones and Rocks of Gold develops an overarching view of what can be considered one of many key factors in the birth of southern industry. This top-down, bottom-up history (business, labor, social, and economic) analyzes an alternative path for all peoples in the post-emancipation South.

Shepherd W. McKinley, a senior lecturer in American history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is the coauthor of North Carolina: New Directions for an Old Land

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George C. Rogers, Jr. Book Award - 2014

McKinley argues that despite considerable similarities between Old and New South, the negotiations that produced this resemblance reveal the agency of freedpeople as well as planters, the mingled self-interest and aspirations of politicians, and a new commercial and manufacturing class that relied on old networks and ways of doing business....A solid contribution.-- The Journal of American History

A very well-researched, contextual case study that makes a significant contribution to the story of industrialization in the New South.-- Choice

A valued addition to the history of the low-country and the post-slavery South more generally.--

An insightful analysis of the rise of the phosphate and fertilizer industries in the South Carolina low country.-- Business History Review

McKinley’s fine monograph is a valued addition to the history of the low-county and the post-slavery South more generally.-- EH Net

Examines an often-overlooked aspect of southern industrialization and thus makes an important contribution to the history of the New South.-- North Carolina Historical Review

Offers an exciting invitation for more scholarship on a New South industry that has remained hidden from view.-- Journal of Southern History

Presents a narrative that stresses the importance of focusing on certain industries--for example, mining, phosphates, and fertilizers--that thrived during the postbellum era and have, for far too long, been relatively unexamined.-- The Historian

Equal parts history of science, business history, industrial history, labor history, and the history of race relations, all done as a case study geographically centered on Charleston, the Charleston Neck, and the Ashley River. McKinley’s research of these topics is thorough, and his analysis of that research is convincing.-- South Carolina Historical Magazine

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