European visitors needn’t pack alarm clocks

“Until developments of the 1830s [such as the rise of the mercantile economy] elevated the importance of clock time in the South, foreign travelers … from wage-labor, industrializing regions tended to transmute, quite wrongly, Southerners’ [attachment] to nonclock time into a cultural and social quirk, which they usually labeled as lazy.

“German itinerant Johann David Schoepf certainly interpreted the practices of North Carolina’s ferrymen in this way in the 1780s: ‘When at last on the fourth day the expected boat for ferrying over the horses arrived, the next morning was fixed for the passage, [but] we found ourselves deceived again…. At 8 o’clock the gentleman who kept the ferry was still sleeping… Travellers therefore must have a good supply of interest if they are not to be outdone.’ ”

— From “Mastered by the Clock: Time, Slavery and Freedom in the American South” ” by Mark M. Smith (1997)