Chapter 17A New South: Economic Progress and Social Tradition (1877–1900)
What characterized continuity and change between the Old South and the New South? What were the origins and nature of southern populism? What were women’s role in the South? How and why did segregation and disfranchisement change race relations in the South?
◦ Birmingham, Alabama epitomized the one aspect of the New South as iron and steel mills emerged in the city.◦ The southern textile industry also grew, especially in the Piedmont.◦ The tobacco and soft drink industries also became important economic aspects of the South.◦ Southern railroad construction boomed in the 1880s, tying the section together and stimulating the rise of interior cities.
MAP 17–1 Railroads inthe South, 1859 and1899 A postwar railroadconstruction boompromoted commercialagriculture and industryin the South. Unlike therailroads of the prewarSouth, uniform gaugesand connections tomajor trunk lines in theNorth linkedsoutherners to the restof the nation. Northerninterests, however,owned the majorsouthern railroads in1899, and most of theproducts flowingnorthward were rawmaterials to beprocessed by northernindustry or shippedelsewhere by northernmerchants.
Grady was the young, dynamic editor of the Souths leading newspaper, the Atlanta Constitution, still one of the great papers of the nation. Through his editorials, through speeches, through writings, Grady tried to advertise to the rest of the nation, and to the world at large, a South that was no longer the South of the old plantation days, of the sleepy towns, of the magnolia blossoms, but a South that was dynamic, alive, ready to receive economic investment, ready to grow and prosper.
– Southern urban and industrial growth was rapid but barely kept pace with the northern boom.– A weak agricultural economy and high rural birthrate kept wages in the South low and undermined the southern economy. Consumer demand was low limiting the market for southern manufacturing goods. Low wages also had other negative effects, including keeping immigrants away.– The South remained a section apart. The Civil War had wiped out its capital resources, making it a colony of the North. Investment seemed riskier making the South dependent on numerous small investors.
By the 1890s, textile mills were a common sight in towns throughout the South.The mills provided employment for impoverished rural families, especially womenand children.
◦ The cash-poor economy meant credit dominated. Cotton was the only commodity easily converted into cash and so became the only one accepted for credit.◦ The web of credit extended from farmers to local merchants to city merchants.
◦ Declining conditions led farmers to fight for improvements. They supported lower interest rates, easier credit, regulation of railroad freight rates, and lower commodity prices.◦ By 1875, nearly 250,000 southern farmers had joined the Patrons of Husbandry, often called the Grange. The leaders were large farmers.◦ The most powerful farm reform organization was the Southern Farmers’ Alliance that originated in Texas. It became a surrogate government and church for many small farmers. It developed into the People’s Party.
The Purposes of the Grange: Gift for the Grangers, done in 1873, notsurprisingly makes a sturdy farmer its focus. The scenes around the borderpicture rural life as farmers wished it to be rather than as it really was(Library of Congress)
◦ Facing growing financial pressures in the 1880s and early 1890s combined with the failure of major political parties to address their concerns, northern and southern farmers joined the Alliance and supported the People’s Party.◦ The People’s Party supported the direct election of U. S. senators, an income tax, government ownership of railroads, woman suffrage, and other credit easing proposals.◦ Southern populists were ambivalent about African Americans but populists in Texas and Georgia openly appealed for black votes.◦ In the 1892 election, Populists made inroads in some southern state legislators.
Church work and preserving memories ◦ Church work provided an avenue for southern women to enter the public arena. They founded home missions to promote industrial education among the poor and help working-class women become self-sufficient. They also established settlement houses. ◦ Religion led southern white women to join the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. - Alcohol prohibition, smoking, Coca-Cola ◦ The reform movement among middle-class southern white women was conservative in nature. -Supported segregation and defended white supremacy
The economic advanceof African Americans inthe South during thedecades after the CivilWar againstgreat odds provided oneof the more inspiringsuccess stories of theera. But it was preciselythis success, asdepicted here at Dr.McDougald’s DrugStore in Georgia, in1900, that infuriatedwhites who believedthat the AfricanAmerican’s place in theSouth resided in menialand subservientoccupations.
The white backlash ◦ As young African Americans demanded full participation in American society, white Southerners of the same generation resented the changed status of African Americans. ◦ The South’s deteriorating rural economy and the volatile politics of the late 1880s and early 1890s heightened tensions between the races. Racial rhetoric and violence escalated. ◦ Whites who were raised on the myth of the “Lost Cause” saw blacks as replacing the “Yankees” as the enemy.
Lynch law Between 1882 and 1903 white mobs lynched more than 2,000 black Southerners Lynching did not end until the 1940’s Most lynching were for imagined slights to white women, but included many other alleged crimes where blacks stepped above their “place” Lynch mobs usually tortured and killed their victims in a circus-like atmosphere• Memphis journalist Ida B. Wells launched an anti-lynching crusade. lynch video 1 Willie Lynch Video
Lynching became a public spectacle, a ritual designed to reinforce white supremacy.Note the matter-of-fact satisfaction of the spectators at this gruesome murder of a blackman.
• Segregation by law – Southern white lawmakers tried to bolster white solidarity and guarantee African American subservience in the 1890s by legalized segregation and disfranchisement of black voters. – In the 1870s, racial segregation in public places was spreading in southern cities and ending in northern urban areas. – New segregation legislation focused on railroads and providing “separate but equal” facilities. – In 1896, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that separate but equal was constitutional in the (Plessy v. Ferguson) – Jim Crow laws extended racial segregation.
Segregation by lawaccelerated after the1896 Plessy v.Ferguson decision,but publicconveyances oftenfailed to abide bythe “equal” portionof the separate-but-equal ruling. AfricanAmericans in theSouth fought racialseparation andexclusionvigorously, as thisexcerpt from a blacknewspaper inCleveland attests.July 14, 1900.
Disfranchisement ◦ The movement to reduce or eliminate the black vote in the South began in the 1880s. ◦ Disfranchisement included a variety of measures such as complicating the registration and voting process as well as instituting the secret ballot. ◦ The poll tax, literacy tests, and the grandfather clauses also helped eliminate black voters. ◦ African Americans protested disfranchisement vigorously but to no avail.
Is this separate but equal?FIGURE 17–3 Disfranchisement and Educational Spending in the South,1890–1910By barring black people from the political process, franchise restrictions limited theiraccess to government services. Educational expenditures, which increased for whitepeople but decreased for black people following disfranchisement, provide onemeasure of the result.
A national consensus on race ◦ In the 1890s, apparently a majority of Americans agreed that African Americans were inferior and should be treated as second-class citizens. ◦ Popular culture stereotypes combined with intellectual and political opinions in the North supported southern policy. ◦ So-called “scientific racism” backed up this claim on biological grounds ◦ In 1903 the New York Times stated “practically the whole country supports the southern solution to the race issue”
Response of the black community ◦ By the 1880s, a new, black middle class had emerged in the South. Centered in the city, business and professional African Americans served a primarily black clientele. ◦ Black women played an increasingly active and prominent role in African American communities. Black women’s clubs developed to address the new era in race relations. ◦ Booker T. Washington advocated learning industrial skills to help African Americans gain self-respect and economic independence. He supported the Atlanta Compromise. ◦ W.E.B DuBois challenged Washington and supported self- help, education, and black pride, helping found the NAACP.
Booker T. Washington (left) and W. E. B. Du Bois (right). The differences between these twoprominent black leaders reflected in part the differences between the North and the South inthe late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The northern-born Du Bois challengedsegregation and pinned his hopes for improving the condition of African Americans on atalented elite. The southern-born Washington counseled acquiescence to segregation,maintaining that black people could ultimately gain the acceptance of white society throughself-improvement and hard work.
Howard University Law School Class These men would form what black leader, W.E.B.Du Bois called “The Talented Tenth,” the new African-American leadership for the newtwentieth century. Note the pride and determination of these men.
In 1900, the South was more like the rest of the nation than at any other time since 1800. White Southerners promoted national reconciliation but maintained the peculiarities of the region. The New South was both American and southern.
Ku Klux Klanmarch, Houston,Texas—publicityduring economicsummit
A “Keep the Flag Change the Governor” political sign is shown in a yard in Louisville,Miss., Oct. 9, 2003. Two years after Mississippi voters decided to keep a Confederatebattle emblem on their state banner, the flag has again become an issue in thegovernor’s race. in a television ad, Republican gubernatorial nominee Haley Barboursaid Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove “attacked” the state flag when he insisted ongiving voters a chance to decide the banner’s design in 2001. Barbour’scampaign office in Yazoo City, Miss., was also distributing “Keep the Flag. Change theGovernor” campaign materials.
NAACP members supporting the economic boycott of South Carolina over thecontinuing presence of the Confederate flag on Statehouse grounds in Columbia,demonstrate prior to a speech by Kweisi Mfume, the national president of the NAACP,Friday, April 19, 2003, at a state welcome station near Fort Mill, S.C.
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