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Scarcity typified most convicts’ lives. Salaries were low; goods for sale, dear; and the ability to earn extra income legitimately, limited. The environment nourished theft and extortion that fed an underground economy in stolen goods. Contraband commerce, in alcohol in particular, brought strata of the penal colony population together to profit from convicts’ seemingly unquenchable thirst for it. Ties of patronage and corruption bound together networks between officers, civil servants, vendors, soldiers, and convicts who at times competed with one another to dominate the steep profits from contraband trade and other schemes. This competition could lead to disputes among rival patronage networks that resulted in investigations, violence, and insurrection. This chapter shows how the “dark twin” of contraband commerce fomented both cooperation and conflict among the strata of the colony’s residents.

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