Savannah’s Midnight Hour: Boosterism, Growth, and Commerce in a Nineteenth-Century American City (Book Review)
Although Savannah, Georgia, is now more commonly equated with bachelorette parties, St. Patrick's Day celebrations, and debates over plantation weddings, Lisa L. Denmark explores some of the lesser known but vital components of this charming southern city. In Savannah's Midnight Hour: Boosterism, Growth, and Commerce in a Nineteenth-Century American City, Denmark sheds light on the growing pains of Savannah during a tumultuous nineteenth century of growth and financial insecurity. Front and center in this story was municipal debt—a financial industry that exploded in the nineteenth century. Municipal debt stood at $25 million in 1840 in the United States, but that number rose to $821 million just forty years later. At its root, Savannah's Midnight Hour shows readers how the city struggled to remain financially afloat, even nearly succumbing to bankruptcy in 1877. But as Denmark aptly demonstrates, the collapse in 1877 did not stem from the yellow fever outbreak that plagued the city but rather from "a long-standing ideology of over-optimistic risk-taking for a goal that soon proved illusory" (p. 8).
Thomson, D.K. (2020). [Review of the book Savannah's Midnight Hour: Boosterism, Growth, and Commerce in a NineteenthCentury American City, by L. L. Denmark]. Journal of Southern History 86(3), 714-716. doi:10.1353/soh.2020.0187.