Waterfront workers of Galveston, Texas, 1838--1920

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Title: Waterfront workers of Galveston, Texas, 1838--1920
Author: Shelton, Robert Stuart
Advisor: Boles, John B.
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy thesis
Abstract: Although prevailing racial ideas in the nineteenth-century South severely limited cooperation between blacks and whites, unionized Southern workers, such as the waterfront workers of Galveston, Texas, formed alliances across racial boundaries to combat efforts of employers to silence their political voices and restrict their economic power. The struggle to forge these alliances reveals how ideas about race were perpetuated and modified over time as they interacted with ideas about class, gender, and the political process and as Galveston emerged as one of the nation's leading cotton ports. This study traces race relations between black and white waterfront workers in Galveston from the city's founding in 1838 through 1920, when employers and the state broke union power. The first chapter outlines the historiographical arguments over the extent of interracial cooperation in the South in the nineteenth-century. Chapter Two sets the stage by tracing Galveston's commercial and population growth from 1838 to 1920. Chapter Three focuses on antebellum interaction between black slaves and white, mostly immigrant, wage earners and the responses of the city's slaveholding elite. Chapter Four examines the formation of racially exclusive white waterfront unions in Galveston, the efforts of African-Americans to secure work on the docks, and the limited class solidarity that emerged in the late 1890s. A brief epilogue examines relations between black and white unionists in the city in the first twenty years of the twentieth century.
Citation: Shelton, Robert Stuart. (2001) "Waterfront workers of Galveston, Texas, 1838--1920." Doctoral Thesis, Rice University.
Date: 2001

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