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Tales of Two Cities

Camilla Townsend
Copyright Date: 2000
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/781672
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  • Book Info
    Tales of Two Cities
    Book Description:

    With a common heritage as former colonies of Europe, why did the United States so outstrip Latin America in terms of economic development in the nineteenth century? In this innovative study, Camilla Townsend challenges the traditional view that North Americans succeeded because of better attitudes toward work-the Protestant work ethic-and argues instead that they prospered because of differences in attitudes towards workers that evolved in the colonial era.

    Townsend builds her study around workers' lives in two very similar port cities in the 1820s and 1830s. Through the eyes of the young Frederick Douglass in Baltimore, Maryland, and an Indian woman named Ana Yagual in Guayaquil, Ecuador, she shows how differing attitudes towards race and class in North and South America affected local ways of doing business. This empirical research significantly clarifies the relationship between economic culture and racial identity and its long-term effects.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79881-6
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Maps and Tables
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. PROLOGUE: First Impressions
    (pp. xiii-xvi)

    One day as Spain’s colonies sat poised on the edge of their independence, the Indian woman María Magdalena decided to leave her home of many years and head for the city of Guayaquil with her young daughter, Ana Yagual. Together they departed from the coastal fishing village where they had lived in great hardship and began a sixty-mile journey up the River Guayas.¹ They went partway on foot and partway by raft. Along both sides of the river, leafy plants touched the gray water. Wherever mangrove bushes grew, they were perfectly reflected in the calm of therío, making it...

  6. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xvii-xxiv)
  7. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-20)

    In this book Ana Yagual, Frederick Bailey, and others who lived in their cities interrogate their world for the modern reader. They speak to us through word and deed about what they experienced as they tried their hands at making their lives and fortunes. They talk about the opportunities they imagined, the ambitions they cherished, and the frustrations they felt in the fledgling republics of the northern and southern hemispheres once the wars of independence were won. They help us to understand the relevance of the nebulous concept of ‘‘economic culture.’’

    Why should we be interested in this concept? Clearly...

  8. Part I
    • Chapter 1 IN THE STREETS OF THE CITIES
      (pp. 23-46)

      In the 1820s María Magdalena and her daughter Ana Yagual found themselves living in Guayaquil at a tense but optimistic moment. Times were changing rapidly, and many residents believed their city would be able to benefit. British merchants who visited the city during the independence period and explored the possibilities were full of enthusiasm. Consul Henry Wood reported to George Canning:

      As a commercial station there are few ports which possess such vast natural advantages as Guayaquil. [It is] situated on the bank of a magnificent river of the most easy and secure navigation, surrounded by a country capable of...

    • Chapter 2 CONQUEST AND COLONY
      (pp. 47-68)

      There was much that explained Baltimore and Guayaquil that neither Frederick nor Ana Yagual could ever see with their own eyes, however keenly they observed. Differences between their adopted homes lay partly buried in the past and in statistics recorded by governments and later deposited in archives—so that posterity could read what was hidden from the view of our wanderers. Ironically, Baltimore would soon be considered a ‘‘failed’’ city, the town that never became New York or Philadelphia, while Guayaquil would be portrayed as emblematic of Latin American dynamism and potential.¹ Yet when the two cities are placed next...

  9. Part II
    • Chapter 3 A MERRY PARTY AND SERIOUS BUSINESS: The Elite of Guayaquil
      (pp. 71-99)

      Because he was deputy mayor of the city, the young merchant Vicente Ramón Roca had to hear several criminal complaints every week. In 1823, under the new republic, Ana Yagual’s uncle Mariano de la Cruz was brought before him, accused of making a violent attack on a white man. Roca and the consulting judge were desperately concerned about keeping order in their new political world. In this case, though, there was no actual proof that Mariano was guilty of murder—only that he had been ‘‘uppity.’’ In the past, legal technicalities might not have saved an Indian, but now the...

    • Chapter 4 STRAWBERRY PARTIES AND HABITS OF INDUSTRY: The Elite of Baltimore
      (pp. 100-134)

      Lydia Hollingsworth picked up a pen to write a note to her country cousin. ‘‘I hope you will pardon me for not writing you ere this, it was my intention to have done so . . .’’ She had been busy buying finery in the Baltimore shops that her cousin had especially requested and had only just worked out a suitable way of sending the goods. ‘‘William Cooch told me he would take charge of anything I had to send up, therefore I put them in a chair box which I will put under his care, and enclose the Key...

  10. Part III
    • Chapter 5 THE QUEST OF THE ‘‘PERSONAS DECENTES’’: The Middling Ranks of Guayaquil
      (pp. 137-153)

      A soldier named Pedro was looking for some evening entertainment. He walked out toward the outskirts of town on the edge of the open grasslands. The petty officer sat down outside a certain house where someone was playing a guitar and people had gathered to dance or simply to listen. Ana Yagual, who lived there, was serving rum. She and her mother had found no other work than this, but they were earning a living. Later in the evening, though, Ana had to accost Pedro and demand the money he owed her—whether for rum or other services rendered was...

    • Chapter 6 THE QUEST OF THE CONTRIBUTING CITIZENS: The Middling Ranks of Baltimore
      (pp. 154-180)

      Frederick Bailey found life difficult in the shipyards where his master hired him out to work. He had not expected to confront any tensions. ‘‘Until a very little while before I went there, white and black ship carpenters worked side by side.’’ But suddenly the white carpenters began to define solidarity among themselves as being equivalent to the exclusion of certain others. ‘‘All at once, the white carpenters knocked off, and swore they would no longer work on the same stage with free negroes.’’ Things progressed by the day; the hostilities shortly extended to all ‘‘the niggers,’’ including the slaves....

  11. Part IV
    • Chapter 7 WORKING ON DEAD MAN’S ROCK: The Poor of Guayaquil
      (pp. 183-204)

      People up and down the street insisted they did not have three pesos to give. They did not even offer one peso to the tax collector, for they said they could not. On every street it had been the same. Vicente Ramón Roca was in a quandary: he had consented to be the chief of police this year, and it was his responsibility to direct the collection of the sum. He wrote distraught letters to the governor about the weight of ‘‘carrying on my shoulders an immense hatred.’’ In early 1827 the Colombian government in Bogotá, concerned about a possible...

    • Chapter 8 ‘‘TO BECOME THE UNFORTUNATE TENANTS OF YOUR ALMS HOUSE’’: The Poor of Baltimore
      (pp. 205-232)

      Margaret Tagert was twelve years old when the imposing door of the Almshouse closed behind her and she found herself inside its walls. On New Year’s Day, 1826, Margaret was the most recent arrival in the house; she was quite alone. ‘‘She has,’’ wrote the stern director, ‘‘a father and mother whose character is bad.’’ ¹ Many such children repeatedly found wandering in the streets because their parents were not at home were taken to the Almshouse by the city’s bailiffs.² This was a memorable trip for them. The house was ‘‘situated on a big hill, three miles distant from...

  12. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 233-240)

    When he was an old man, Bernal Díaz de Castillo, who had once accompanied the famous Hernán Cortés, looked back on the days after the conquest of the New World. ‘‘Learning from Montezuma’s account books the names of the villages which sent him tributes of gold, and where the mines and chocolate and cotton cloths were to be found, we decided to go to these places; and our resolve was strengthened when . . . we realized that there were no gold or mines or cotton in the town immediately surrounding the city of Mexico, only a lot of corn...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 241-288)
  14. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 289-312)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 313-320)