Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

Atlantic World; Louisville, Kentucky; tobacco; West Africa; Liverpool; global history


This thesis uses the Campbell Company of Louisville as a case study to demonstrate how tobacco from Kentucky moved throughout the Atlantic World of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, specifically as an export commodity to major trading firms in England and France. Those trading firms, such as John Holt & Company of Liverpool, used that tobacco to engage in trade through West Africa and to obtain the commodities of palm oil and palm kernel that were valuable as factory lubricants, soap, and margarine in Europe’s industrial society. Charles Campbell of the Campbell Company used social ties and personal relationships with people such as the Maxwell family of Liverpool to further his business ventures across the Atlantic as his personal letters and business records help to illuminate. This work will contribute to various fields, particularly local Louisville history, as it demonstrates how even Louisville-based companies contributed to and benefited from colonial economies resulting from European colonization efforts in West Africa and other parts of the Atlantic World.

Lay Summary

This thesis looks at how strong personal bonds and relationships helped a Louisville-based tobacco to thrive in a global commodity trading network across the Atlantic Ocean in the latter half of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century. Personal relationships helped the Campbell Company navigate a complex trade network- this thesis closely examines this claim by citing personal letters and placing the Campbell Company into its historical context.

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