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Oyster Wars

A shellfish 'gold rush' in the Chesapeake Bay

June 16, 2011 | By NEH Staff

Oysters -- once deemed only suitable for the poor man’s pot -- grew so popular in the years after the Civil War that they created a sort of comestible "gold rush" in the Chesapeake Bay.

The oyster’s rise from humble fare to haute cuisine brought with it a host of social and economic consequences, including fierce turf wars for control of oyster-rich waters, the emergence of oyster outlaws, and even the creation of an Oyster Navy to keep order along Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  

Read about the history of the Maryland Oyster Wars in Humanities magazine.