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The ACW and Reconstruction

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  • #16
    Originally posted by zraver View Post
    Julie its not just well into the 20th century, we are finishign the first decade of the 21st century and income in some regions is still barely 1/3 of the national median.
    Yes, and what do you suggest this is a product of? Could you expand on that?

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Julie View Post
      Yes, and what do you suggest this is a product of? Could you expand on that?
      The economic system set up by the planter class (including the bankers and store owners) after the end of the war. Thanks to a weak president they were able to get pardoned and maintain control of their land and control of credit. They also created and exploited racial fears to keep a lock on access to the Democrat primaries (the real elections in the south for so many decades).

      This they controlled political power, the land and money. They were able to manipulate the system to their will fairly easily. A couple of examples would be buying cotton from the sharecroppers when prices were low via over production, and then storing it until prices rebounded. The farmers would often not get enough to pay off the credit debts that had high interest rates (often double digit) so they would be foreclosed on. The planters would then buy the land from the bank or pay off the farmers debt for the deed and keep farmers on as renters.

      Another example is the race riots in Arkansas when blacks tried to form a co-op to negotiate the same rates whites were getting. The planters were able to exploit race tension to smash that idea. This was not only bad for blacks, but bad for whites. Since if for example whites had been getting $35 a ton and suddenly blacks got the same Whites might demand $50 a ton. As long as blacks were kept at $20 a ton, the poor whites could say, at least I am not black. mean while the planters would sell if for $75 a ton since they owned the gin and storage sheds.

      prior to WWII, every advance the south made only came when there was a labor shortage the forced the landed class to throw some bones to the lower classes. The remarkable and rapid strides most of the south has made since 1945 occurred after the sharecropping system finally broke down.

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      • #18
        Yes, and I would like to add to that as well.

        In the early 20th century, invasion of the boll weevil devastated cotton crops in states of the South. This was an additional catalyst to African Americans' decisions to leave the South. From 1910 to 1940, and then from the 1940s to 1970, more than 6.5 million African Americans left the South in the Great Migration to northern and midwestern cities, making multiple acts of resistance against persistent lynching and violence, segregation, poor education, and inability to vote.

        Later the southern economy was dealt additional blows by the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the economy suffered significant reversals and millions were left unemployed. Beginning in 1934 and lasting until 1939, an ecological disaster of severe wind and drought caused an exodus from Texas and Arkansas, the Oklahoma Panhandle region and the surrounding plains, in which over 500,000 Americans were homeless, hungry and jobless. Thousands left the region forever to seek economic opportunities along the West Coast.

        World War II marked a time of change in the South as new industries and military bases were developed by the Federal government, providing badly needed capital and infrastructure in many regions. People from all parts of the US came to the South for military training and work in the region's many bases and new industries. Farming shifted from cotton and tobacco to include soybeans, corn, and other foods.

        After World War II, with the development of the Interstate Highway System, household air conditioning and later, passage of civil rights bills, the South was successful in attracting industry and business from other parts of the country. Industry from the Rust Belt region of the Northeast and the Great Lakes moved into the region because of lower labor costs and less unionization. Poverty rates and unemployment declined as a result of new job growth. Federal programs such as the Appalachian Regional Commission also contributed to economic growth.

        This growth increased in the 1960s and greatly accelerated into the 1980s and 1990s. Large urban areas with over 4 million people rose in Texas, Georgia, and Florida. Rapid expansion in industries such as autos, telecommunications, textiles, technology, banking, and aviation gave some states in the South an industrial strength to rival large states elsewhere in the country. By the 2000 census, The South (along with the West) was leading the nation in population growth.

        In recent decades it has seen a boom in its service economy, manufacturing base, high technology industries, and the financial sector. Examples of this include the surge in tourism in Florida and along the Gulf Coast; numerous new automobile production plants such as Mercedes-Benz in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Hyundai in Montgomery, Alabama; the BMW production plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina; the GM manufacturing plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee; and the Nissan North American headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee; the two largest research parks in the country: Research Triangle Park in North Carolina (the world's largest) and the Cummings Research Park in Huntsville, Alabama (the world's fourth largest); and the corporate headquarters of major banking corporations Bank of America and Wachovia in Charlotte; Regions Financial Corporation, AmSouth Bancorporation, and BBVA Compass in Birmingham; SunTrust Banks and the district headquarters of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; and BB&T in Winston-Salem; and several Atlanta-based corporate headquarters and cable television networks, such as CNN, TBS, TNT, Turner South, Cartoon Network, and The Weather Channel. This economic expansion has enabled parts of the South to boast of some of the lowest unemployment rates in the United States.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by zraver View Post
          The remarkable and rapid strides most of the south has made since 1945 occurred after the sharecropping system finally broke down.
          I think WWII is what stimulated the southern economy the most.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Julie View Post
            I think WWII is what stimulated the southern economy the most.
            No doubt, but the collapse of share cropping meant there was no return to the antebellum status quo again such as after the ACW and WWI.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by zraver View Post
              No doubt, but the collapse of share cropping meant there was no return to the antebellum status quo again such as after the ACW and WWI.
              Correct. In summary, I would say that the southern economy did not begin any significant rebound until 80+ years after the Civil War.

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              • #22
                Julie,

                I'd agree that Reconstruction was a failure. The newly passed amendments that protected the rights of blacks were basically voided through non-enforcement. I'd also agree that Reconstruction was implemented in a ham-handed fashion, which certainly didn't help. However, as I stated earlier, I'm not very widely read on this era, and so I'm comfortable with staking out specific causality claims.

                I wonder what would have happened in the counterfactual world of Lincoln not being assassinated - in his initial conceptualization, he was going to compensate former slave owners for their capital losses. Would this have simply empowered the class that was the most in favor of secession and thus rooted the plantation economic system even more to the South's further detriment, or would it have gave them funds to push economic revival in another direction? Would Lincoln have even been able to have pushed this through the Radical Republican faction in Congress?

                In tracking down scholarly articles on the post bellum South economy, I came across this one, JSTOR: An Error Occurred Setting Your User Cookie, which pointed to a lack of higher education as probably the biggest obstacle to the Southern economy being able to modernize. Because of the differing conditions (weather, quality of natural resources, etc.), simply adapting technical solutions from the North didn't necessarily work (and even Northern companies that took advantage of the low-cost white labor in the South failed at this). It took decades for Georgia Tech to ramp up to a point where it was really able to research and devise regional technological solutions that could help push Souther industrialization into a more competitive status.

                Just as interesting to me was the following quote from the above article, citing another article:

                JSTOR: An Error Occurred Setting Your User Cookie

                "In 1940 the raison d'etre of Southern state governments was the
                protection of white supremacy and social stability; thirty years later their central purpose was the promotion of business and industrial development."
                As I said, I don't have the depth of knowledge on this topic to know how accurate it is, but given the resistance to the Civil Rights movement, I'd tend to believe that it's not far off the mark, and so this is a self-inflicted wound. Even if more effort had been given during Reconstruction to develop infrastructure, social inertia enforced by the governments would have still resulted in a lesser development path postbellum.
                "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Shek View Post
                  Julie,In tracking down scholarly articles on the post bellum South economy, I came across this one, JSTOR: An Error Occurred Setting Your User Cookie, which pointed to a lack of higher education as probably the biggest obstacle to the Southern economy being able to modernize.
                  Hence the impact of the GI Bill in creating a technical and academically skilled base to build on.

                  "In 1940 the raison d'etre of Southern state governments was the
                  protection of white supremacy and social stability; thirty years later their central purpose was the promotion of business and industrial development."
                  This is kind of misleading. White supremacy was a construct in order to preserve the power of the ruling class. Many of the laws that kept blacks out of the political process and thus out of power also disenfranchised poor whites leaving political power in the same hands that had held it since the British sailed away.

                  The south prior to the WWII although cracking, was still the land of the planter class. it had exactly the infrastructure that class wanted to keep in order to make money and the bare minimum needed to keep the lower classes in line.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Shek View Post
                    As I said, I don't have the depth of knowledge on this topic to know how accurate it is, but given the resistance to the Civil Rights movement, I'd tend to believe that it's not far off the mark, and so this is a self-inflicted wound. Even if more effort had been given during Reconstruction to develop infrastructure, social inertia enforced by the governments would have still resulted in a lesser development path postbellum.
                    I will admit southerners are very patriotic and rebellious people, in that, they do not like to be told what to do, and they do not like Government. However, the South was totally devastated after the War, literally burned to the ground, and I think they knew of no other course to charter but their antebellum ways.

                    The government was more set on punishing the southerners, moreso than focusing on infrastructure, and salt was added to the open wounds when they sent some black federal militias to govern and collect taxes; then put them in congressional seats when they couldn't read or write, and would give no white southern man a voice at the table, but would collect his taxes. From what I have read lately, that is what initially prompted the forming of the KKK, an organized rebellion of the reconstruction.

                    After reading in-depth the past few days on this subject, I can more than see why it did not stand a chance of working. The only positive thing I seen was the railroad fully repaired. The economic pitfalls I noted above, were not of anyone's making, and would have been endured no matter what the outcome of reconstruction was.

                    I, too, often wonder had Lincoln not been assassinated what difference reconstruction would have been, if any.

                    Now I'm trying to find out why we have such a high poverty level, with such a competitive economy. It makes no sense to me. I can't speak for other southern states, but I know Georgia funnels a huge part of our budget for education.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Julie View Post
                      ; then put them in congressional seats when they couldn't read or write, and would give no white southern man a voice at the table, but would collect his taxes. From what I have read lately, that is what initially prompted the forming of the KKK, an organized rebellion of the reconstruction.
                      Absolute 100% bullsh1t.

                      Poor whites were often allied with blacks in the Republican party. There was also a small but real negro educated class who for the most part had been freemen or house slaves. Research shows these black legislators were no more corrupt than white democrats.

                      The KKK was more of an umbrella than movement. It was never highly organized and had a multitude of agendas depending on who, where and when even inside of individual groups. Hoever, blacks suffered the most and were the primary target of the klan groups. It was less a revolt against reconstruction (political order) than it was an attempt to re-establish the social pecking order and engage in some good old fashioned vendetta.

                      The only positive thing I seen was the railroad fully repaired. The economic pitfalls I noted above, were not of anyone's making, and would have been endured no matter what the outcome of reconstruction was.
                      The pitfalls had human authors.

                      That being said, Reconstruction was a hugely important milestone for blacks. You see black property owners, black businesses, black schools, black fraternal organizations, black political identity etc emerge during reconstruction. The progress didn't go far in many cases, but the seeds were planted.

                      Now I'm trying to find out why we have such a high poverty level, with such a competitive economy. It makes no sense to me. I can't speak for other southern states, but I know Georgia funnels a huge part of our budget for education.
                      Poverty is concentrated among blacks which are a higher percentage of the population in the South and also concentrated in the black belt. The laundry list of why blacks are still poor is long and embarrassing if your white. If you want I'll list them out in detail, but here are a few

                      Black communities are poorer and have less money to support local schools. Since most districts still get most funding via property taxes black schools have less money. Less money means they can't retain good educators, stay technologically current, or offer a real richness of experiences. It also means they tend to favor larger schools which inhibit minority learning.

                      Funding is further pulled away from the general student body to fund AP classes that end up being white dominated.

                      When a student does make it up and out, and goes to college and succeeds they get poached by the areas with jobs and thus don't go home. This amounts to a tax on poor schools to fund rich schools by sustaining the rich districts talent pool that attracts jobs.

                      Poor (black) areas are also much more likely to use welfare. Rules for welfare effectively exclude fathers from the family. Any income he brings in will simply cut momma's benefits, while adding another mouth to the mix. This helps the curse of the broken home, yet one more burden and barrier to success.

                      It doesn't get better in the cities. Black neighborhoods don't get modern schools, are often physically isolated from businesses via interstates and other barriers. When cities bring in good jobs or build new schools they do it in the suburbs which are often not linked by transit. This keeps blacks out of the good schools and keeps them from competing for the good jobs.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by zraver View Post
                        Absolute 100% bullsh1t.
                        I was going to say...but I give Julie a pass...this urban legend is found everywhere, even in fairly recent school history books. A really good refutation of it can be found in the book Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, by James W. Loewen.
                        To be Truly ignorant, Man requires an Education - Plato

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by JAD_333 View Post
                          I was going to say...but I give Julie a pass...this urban legend is found everywhere, even in fairly recent school history books. A really good refutation of it can be found in the book Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, by James W. Loewen.
                          I know, its also part of a narrative that was constructed to create a certain consensus and idea.

                          The sad thing is, Southern history is so much more vibrant when you pull the whitewash down. Yet until just a few decades ago the only story in town for whites was the white man's story. You had to go into the minority communities to get the other side of the story via verbal histories.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Julie View Post
                            I will admit southerners are very patriotic and rebellious people, in that, they do not like to be told what to do, and they do not like Government. However, the South was totally devastated after the War, literally burned to the ground, and I think they knew of no other course to charter but their antebellum ways.
                            This is wrong, too. The South didn't mind government, as long as it stuck to the exact agenda that the ruling class wanted. Rule of the majority, as long as it was their majority. Maybe that sentiment permeates today, but it's based off a particular narrative that doesn't hold up scrutiny, just as Z pointed out.

                            As far as destruction, much of the deep South never saw a Union soldier. Sherman's columns at their maximum saw a front of 50-60 miles. However, while he 100% devastated the railroads and factories and took foodstuffs (both livestock and storage), he left much of the other infrastructure intact. In fact, histories are complete with what a difference his path looked like in South Carolina and North Carolina, with South Carolina receiving special treatment for its role as the first state to secede. However, you can also read about how Columbia, SC, was probably put to the torch by the retreating Confederacy and how Sherman's men fought the blaze.

                            Your claim reminds me of a story I think is pretty funny. An author is getting a tour of a Southern city and the guide in one sentence says that Sherman burned everything and then in the very next sentence points out a fine example of antebellum architecture. I guess everything wasn't burned.

                            The economic statistics, both in terms of agricultural and manufacturing output show that whatever destruction was caused by the war, it was fixed within about five years. That's recovery from the war. The failure to progress extensively beyond that isn't the fault of the war, but rather the fault of the Southern elites.
                            "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by zraver View Post
                              Hence the impact of the GI Bill in creating a technical and academically skilled base to build on.
                              They also had to "import" a lot of folks from other regions of the country to boost their education level.

                              Originally posted by zraver
                              This is kind of misleading. White supremacy was a construct in order to preserve the power of the ruling class. Many of the laws that kept blacks out of the political process and thus out of power also disenfranchised poor whites leaving political power in the same hands that had held it since the British sailed away.
                              I'd refer to the part where keeping the same "social status" would be synonymous with keeping poor whites in their proper strata.
                              "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Shek View Post
                                This is wrong, too. The South didn't mind government, as long as it stuck to the exact agenda that the ruling class wanted. Rule of the majority, as long as it was their majority. Maybe that sentiment permeates today, but it's based off a particular narrative that doesn't hold up scrutiny, just as Z pointed out.

                                I was reading something the other day about manumission of slaves. Interstingly, it actually became more difficult in southern states as the antebellum progressed, rather than easier. In many states it was necessary for a slaveowner to get the permission of the local legislature in order to dispose of his or her personal property as they chose. The right of states to maintain slavery was worth breaking up the union, but the right of actual slaveowners to free their slaves was unworthy of respect.
                                Last edited by Bigfella; 30 Nov 09,, 13:22.
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