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The ACW and Reconstruction

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  • Julie
    replied
    The auto industry has all but abandoned the North, and is re-located in the South. We have a huge plant here on the river called "The Trade Zone." New cars for miles as far as the eye can see.

    Georgia is a right-to-work State, low cost of living, low wages. Is this why these companies are flocking here now?

    Not trying to change the subject, just attempting not to pee on the carpet again. ;)

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  • Shek
    replied
    Originally posted by Julie View Post
    I think they knew of no other course to charter but their antebellum ways.
    This sounds as if one is excusing the dog for peeing the carpet again because it knows nothing better.

    They could have looked to the North for an example. They could have looked to the West for an example. They could have looked to England for an example. I grant that there's inertia to overcome, but they chose to return as much as possible to the status quo antebellum socially, which meant that they returned to a version of King Cotton, except that King Cotton was no longer king.

    I just finished reading the Wright piece that I referred to last night, and he provides a very compelling argument about how the South chose to maintain the status quo. As late as the Great Depression, the very powerful Southern bloc in Congress argued against sending federal money into the South to help combat unemployment, in essence, because this money would cause changes that would upset the social status quo. They chose to underinvest in education because they feared that brain drain would cause this newly educated class to flee the South and take their newly acquired knowledge with them, just as Z pointed out has happened to some education approaches in the delta regions.

    It took a federal minimum wage law and the Fair Labor Standards Act to end the one major comparative advantage that the South had - cheap labor that had a huge gap on Northern wages, and this, among other things, forced the South to pursue labor-saving technologies and human capital development. This set the stage for economic growth in the aggregate that closed the gap on the rest of the regions of the US.

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  • zraver
    replied
    Originally posted by Shek View Post
    They also had to "import" a lot of folks from other regions of the country to boost their education level.
    absolutely, but you see a more radical new order in the south as comapred to other regions of the country.The NE and West already had a fairly robust technical/academic base and lower midwest, southwest and Mountain west didn't have the population to do much regardless.



    I'd refer to the part where keeping the same "social status" would be synonymous with keeping poor whites in their proper strata.
    yes, but it sugar coasts the reality.

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  • Bigfella
    replied
    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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  • Shek
    replied
    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.

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  • Shek
    replied
    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.

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  • zraver
    replied
    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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  • JAD_333
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • zraver
    replied
    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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  • Julie
    replied
    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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  • zraver
    replied
    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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  • Shek
    replied
    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.

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  • Julie
    replied
    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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  • zraver
    replied
    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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  • Julie
    replied
    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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