Chapter 17 A New South: Economic Progress and Social Tradition 1877–1900
MAP 17–1 Railroads in the South, 1859 and 1899 A postwar railroad construction boom promoted commercial agriculture and industry in the South. Unlike the railroads of the prewar South, uniform gauges and connections to major trunk lines in the North linked southerners to the rest of the nation. Northern interests, however, owned the major southern railroads in 1899, and most of the products flowing northward were raw materials to be processed by northern industry or shipped elsewhere by northern merchants.
The economic advance of African Americans in the South during the decades after the Civil War against great odds provided one of the more inspiring success stories of the era. But it was precisely this success, as depicted here at Dr. McDougald’s Drug Store in Georgia, in 1900, that infuriated whites who believed that the African American’s place in the South resided in menial and subservient occupations.
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 new twentieth century. Note the pride and determination of these men.
FIGURE 17–1 Per Capita Income in the South as a Percentage of the U.S. Average, 1860–1920 This graph illustrates the devastating effect of the Civil War on the southern economy. Southerners began a slow recovery during the 1880s that accelerated after 1900. But even as late as 1920, per capita income in the South was still lower relative to the country as a whole than it had been before the Civil War. Data Source: Richard A. Easterlin, “Regional Economic Trends, 1840–1950,” in American Economic History, ed. Seymour E. Harris (1961).
By the 1890s, textile mills were a common sight in towns throughout the South. The mills provided employment for impoverished rural families, especially women and children.
FIGURE 17–2 The Price of Cotton, 1869–1910 The steadily declining price of cotton after the Civil War, from 18 cents a pound to 5 cents a pound by the early 1890s, reflected extreme overproduction. Behind the numbers lay an impoverished rural South. Data Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1957.
The faces of this white sharecropper family in North Carolina reflect the harshness of farm life in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century South, a period when thousands of southerners, white and black alike, slipped from land ownership to sharecropping.
Southern white women played a major role in memorializing the Civil War and Confederate veterans. Here, a float prepared for a Confederate Veterans parade includes the major symbols of the Lost Cause, including the prominent pictures of Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and Jefferson Davis, as well as the Confederate Battle Flag. The sponsorship of a casket company affords some irony to the photograph.
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 black man.
Ida B. Wells, an outspoken critic of lynching, fled to Chicago following the People’s Grocery lynchings in Memphis in 1892 and became a national civil-rights leader.
Segregation by law accelerated after the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision, but public conveyances often failed to abide by the “equal” portion of the separate-but-equal ruling. African Americans in the South fought racial separation and exclusion vigorously, as this excerpt from a black newspaper in Cleveland attests. July 14, 1900.
Racial stereotypes permeated American popular culture by the turn of the twentieth century. Images like this advertisement for Pullman railroad cars, which depicts a deferential black porter attending to white passengers, reinforced racist beliefs that black people belonged in servile roles. Immersed in such images, white people assumed they depicted the natural order of things. Collection of The New York Historical Society. Negative number 51391.
The offices of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, around 1900. Founded by John Merrick, C. C. Spaulding, and Dr. A. M. Moore (all of whom appear in the picture), this Durham-based insurance company became one of the most successful black enterprises in the country.
FIGURE 17–3 Disfranchisement and Educational Spending in the South, 1890–1910 By barring black people from the political process, franchise restrictions limited their access to government services. Educational expenditures, which increased for white people but decreased for black people following disfranchisement, provide one measure of the result. Data Source: Robert A. Margo, “Disfranchisement, School Finance, and the Economics of Segregated Schools in the United States South, 1890–1910,” Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1982.
Ku Klux Klan march, Houston, Texas—publicity during economic summit
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 Confederate battle emblem on their state banner, the flag has again become an issue in the governor’s race. in a television ad, Republican gubernatorial nominee Haley Barbour said Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove “attacked” the state flag when he insisted on giving voters a change to decide the banner’s design in 2001. Barbour’s campaign office in Yazoo City, Miss., was also distributing “Keep the Flag. Change the Governor” campaign materials.
NAACP members supporting the economic boycott of South Carolina over the continuing 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.
Booker T. Washington (left) and W. E. B. Du Bois (right). The differences between these two prominent black leaders reflected in part the differences between the North and the South in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The northern-born Du Bois challenged segregation and pinned his hopes for improving the condition of African Americans on a talented elite. The southern-born Washington counseled acquiescence to segregation, maintaining that black people could ultimately gain the acceptance of white society through self-improvement and hard work.