The introduction explores the centrality of cotton, credit, and the Gulf South in global capitalism. It establishes the importance of trust in economic transactions and the ways in which this trust fostered the economic networks that were so central to the development of a Jewish niche economy in this industry. The introduction quantifies this Jewish niche economy, utilizing methodologies of the digital humanities—particularly geographic information system (GIS) maps—and it establishes the impact of this niche economy for Jews and the communities in which they lived. Economic success begat communal, civic, and social success for merchants, and Jews shaped the communities at the heart of the cotton industry.
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