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West of the Appalachians, many towns were also developing into cities. Of these, Mobile represented one of the gathering places of the belles and the planters from the less healthy sections of the state.  

Virginia Gearhart Gray, A Southern Lady of The Forties, University of Wisconsin, 1925, 78.

As America's textile industry expanded, so did the demand for southern cotton and the port of Mobile rose to become a major port for international commerce. The city's population expanded by four times during this decade, while the numbers of transient young men, merchants travelling north and south by steamship, outnumbered all other demographic groups. 

It was also during the 1840's that Mobile's New Year's Eve frolics became more formalized presentations, capturing national attention with the initiation of themed costumes and a tableau. 

The expansion of the city's economy went hand in hand with the expansion of slavery. Although the importation of slaves from Africa had been outlawed, the domestic slave trade grew exponentially. 


Like most southern newspapers of the Antebellum Era, the Mobile Register carried a regular column of runnaway slaves. The following, from March 22, 1845,  are typical examples: 


$200 Reward -- Ranaway from the subscriber about the 29th of June lost my negro man John, 22 years old, about 5 feet, 6 or 7 inches high, dark complexion, a little round shouldered, has a beautiful set of front teeth, rather stupid in appearance but very pleasing when spoken to. John is a brick layer by trade. 



Ranaway on the 9th inst., my negro man slave Harry, aged almost 45, and give feet 7 or 8 inches high. His head shows considerable gray hairs, and his beard, when long, is quite gray. He is stout built, carries his head erect and walks quick -- chews a great deal of tobacco, also fond of smoking. Some of his front teeth are out. He is a country negro and speaks in rather a drawling tone, but very plausible, and has worked some time as a shoemaker; he is also something of a fiddler, and it is believed carried off his violin. 

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