Life of the People
in a Changing Society
Mrs. Stephanie Holland
Georgia’s heavy dependence on cotton and
the lack of factory jobs held the people
Two thirds of Georgia workers were farmers.
The average yearly income in 1900 for
Georgians was $259.00. Georgia farmers
were among the poorest people in the
Georgia could not industrialize because
they had no capital to build the factories
Textile mills had existed in Georgia before
the Civil War, but they were small and
located mainly along the Fall Line.
Georgians had to buy most of their
manufactured goods from outside the state.
Fairs and Expositions
In 1881, Atlanta held the World’s Fair and
Great International Cotton Exposition. Its
purpose was to bring people to Georgia
and encourage businesses to build
industry in the state.
Its success prompted a second fair in 1887
where President Grover Cleveland
attended. The location later became
In 1895, the Exposition displayed other
resources and achievements.
Booker T. Washington spoke on the role of
black people in the South’s economic life as he
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show entertained that
As a result of the expositions and other
efforts, textile manufacturing became
Georgia’s leading industry.
Northern companies built textile mills in
Georgia because the mills were closer to cotton
fields, which cut transportation costs, taxes
were lower, and the climate was milder. The
main reason was the availability of cheap labor
in the South.
Iron, coal, gold and clay were mined
Marble and granite quarries were
New factories and mills (steam and water
New towns grew up around the railroads
and resources. Wherever a manufacturing
plant might be built and jobs available.
Georgia’s Black Belt region was located
along the Fall Line.
It was called the Black Belt region because
of its high percentage of black residents.
More cotton was produced now, than in
the antebellum years.
Also raised were peaches, pecans, corn,
cattle and hogs.
Land owners had a dire need for laborers
and the poor had a dire need for land to
farm. There were several solutions.
Tenant farming – The farmer had no land, but
was willing to live on and work someone elses
land. Some were “renters” and paid the
landowner an agreed upon amount in cash or
crops when the season ended.
If the renter mismanaged the farm or lost the crop
due to bad weather, HE suffered ALL the loss and still
owed his rent.
Some Georgians were too poor to rent and
landowners in need of labor made a different
arrangement for them. Sharecropping.
Landowners provided land, a house, plows,
mules, seed and other supplies and in return,
he received a share of the crop raised on the
Sharecroppers and Tenant farmers ALWAYS
supplied the labor in these arrangements
A farmer needed money to farm and could
not often get money from a bank. This
meant that stores sometimes allowed
them to buy on credit. The crop was the
only security the farmer had to put up.
This was called a crop lien. If he could not
make payment, he could loose his land.
The most valuable possession for a farmer was
Help for the Farmer
The Grange – a nationwide self help
farmers organization came to Georgia in
They pressed the General Assembly to create
the Department of Agriculture which assisted
the farmer by distributing information about
new seed, how to use fertilizer and new
It set up cooperative stores that were run by
and for farmers. Members bout directly from
producers, cutting out the middle man and
UGA established a College of Agriculture
The state set up agricultural experiment
station to help determine what plants and
animals grew best in Georgia.
When Grange membership dropped, the
Farmers’ Alliance stepped in to help,
offering lower interest on loans, set up
more farmer “co-ops” and organized
boycotts of stores with high prices.
Growth of Towns and Cities
1910, one out of every three
residents of Georgia lived in a
village, town or city.
Atlanta was developed around a railroad.
Businesses were drawn to the area
because of the availability of
transportation and people were drawn
there for jobs.
In Atlanta, the area around Auburn
Avenue developed as a social and
commercial center for African Americans.
Populists sought to grant blacks political
equality. But not social equality. Few black
leaders accepted the places that whites
believed they should occupy.
Niagara Movement – first national effort to
end Jim Crow laws.
NAACP – National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People.
“Atlanta Compromise” – Booker T.
Washington’s message. Blacks should
accept their status for the time being.
They should learn a skill, acquire a home
and become self sufficient, then political
equality would come.
Race Riots in Atlanta – Typical of violence by
whites against blacks. Left 25 blacks and 1 white
Lynchings – typically whites murdering blacks.
Ku Klux Klan – reborn in Stone Mountain in 1915.
As a result of the racial discrimination and
violence in the 1900’s, many African Americans
began leaving in large numbers for jobs up north.
Early public education in Georgia included
elementary education and universities.
State funds were not spent on high
schools. Until 1912, if an area wanted a
high school, it had to find the funding
The schools (white and black) were
separated. More money was spent on the
education of white students than black
In 1916, the state passed a law for
Children 8-14 must go to school 4 months per
Children who lived more than 3 miles from the
closest school did not have to attend.
Children could be excused for seasonal labor in
Terms to know!
Black belt – heart of the cotton growing
region, along the Fall Line.
Crop lien – legal claim to a farmer’s crop
as payment for a loan given to grow that
Dry goods – textiles and ready made
Sharecropping –the farmer works
someone else’s land for a portion of the
Tenant farming – the farmer is renting the
land or works for wages or a share of the
crops he produces.
People to know
Three leaders of the early 1900’s that are
most closely associated with education
and efforts to improve the lives of African
Americans were DuBois, Hope and
William E.B. DuBois – organized the
Niagara movement and helped establish
Hope – President of
Morehouse College and later
Atlanta University. Spoke out
against Booker T. Washington’s
T. Washington – Founder of
Tuskegee Institute in Alabama where
he stressed technical training,
learning a trade and agriculture. His
message at the Cotton States and
International Exposition was called
the “Atlanta Compromise.”
Henry Grady – Enthusiastic booster of the
New South Movement. He gave a funeral
speech that illustrated Georgia’s
dependence on the North. He believed
that the key to breaking that dependence
and poverty was to use Georgia’s own
natural resources, build new factories and
mills. He travelled thru the north urging
businesses to invest in the south.
Gustavus Orr – Father of the common
school system. Encouraged citizens to tax
themselves to pay for schools.
Morris Rich – Immigrant from Hungary
who established Rich’s department store
as a “dry goods” store.. It was called
“Atlanta’s department store”.
John Pemberton – druggist who created
Coca Cola as a headache remedy.
Asa Candler – emphasized the refreshing
qualities of Coca cola rather than its
medicinal values, established a more
Ernest Woodruff – President of the Trust
Company of Georgia which bought the
Cola product for $25 million. Under his
management, it became an international
product before WWII.
Alonzo Herndon – former slave from
Walton Country. Opened several
barbershops the largest of which served
an all white clientele. Later owned the
Atlanta Life Insurance Company.
Tom Watson – Originally spoke out for
black people because he needed their
votes. When he realized racial issues were
intense and that he needed the votes of
the poor, uneducated whites to succeed,
he began to preach racial hatred and
violence. In order to He told the readers of
his newspaper that Jews and Catholics
were also their enemies.
Leo M. Frank – Jewish factory worker
accused of killing a 14 year old girl at a
pencil factory in 1913. He was convicted
and condemned to hang based on
evidence many suspected as false.
John Slaton – Georgia governor who was
so troubled over the sentence of Leo M.
Frank that he changed sentence to life in
At the urging of Tom Watson, a lynch mob
took Mr. Frank from the state prison and
lynched himi themselves.
Martha Lumpkin – started the first garden
club in Athens.
Martha Berry – Began a school in Rome
for under-privileged children. They worked
to earn their education. Berry college
continues this tradition.
Juliette Gordon Lowe – Formed the Girl
Guides, that later became the Girl Scouts
of America. The program was to help
young women become productive and