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The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815-1860$
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Calvin Schermerhorn

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300192001

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300192001.001.0001

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“The Slave-Factory of Franklin & Armfield”

“The Slave-Factory of Franklin & Armfield”

(p.124) 5 “The Slave-Factory of Franklin & Armfield”
The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815-1860

Calvin Schermerhorn

Yale University Press

This chapter details the architecture and strategies of Franklin and Armfield, the most successful slave trading firm of the 1830s. It was composed of Isaac Franklin, John Armfield, and Rice C. Ballard, among others. Much of that success owed to Franklin’s resource-based theory of the firm. The movement of money and not merely enslaved people posed great challenges to achieving an economy of scale in the domestic slave trade. Franklin and Armfield organized vertically and built a supply chain that funnelled a thousand captives per year from the Chesapeake to the lower Mississippi Valley during its peak years. Armfield incorporated a shipping business within the firm and built a small fleet of company-owned ships. Franklin expanded credit to buyers in Louisiana and Mississippi and used domestic bills of exchange along with bank drafts, including with Louisiana property banks, to make remittances to purchasing managers, who disbursed banknotes to purchasing agents. Because of such financial and transportation innovations Franklin and Armfield drove out competitors like Austin Woolfolk.

Keywords:   Supply Chain, Slave ship, Franklin and Armfield, Isaac Franklin, Rice C. Ballard, John Armfield, Competitive advantage, Resource-based theory of the firm, Vertical organization, Mississippi slavery

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