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The ACW and Reconstruction

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  • Julie
    replied
    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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  • zraver
    replied
    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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  • Julie
    replied
    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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  • zraver
    replied
    Originally posted by Julie View Post
    The result was an economy that remained heavily committed not only to agriculture, but to the staple crop of cotton. Crop output in the South fell dramatically at the end of the war, and had not yet recovered its antebellum level by 1879. The loss of income was particularly hard on white Southerners; per capita income of whites in 1857 had been $125; in 1879 it was just over $80 (Ransom and Sutch 1979). Over the last quarter of the nineteenth century, gross crop output in the South rose by about one percent per year at a time when the GNP of United States (including the South) was rising at twice that rate. By the end of the century, Southern per capita income had fallen to roughly two-thirds the national level, and the South was locked in a cycle of poverty that lasted well into the twentieth century.
    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.

    The landlords were banking under the sharecropper system. In 1930 the average white sharecropper family lived on a cash budget of less than $200 a year while the national median wage was closer to $1400 a year. Even FDR's plans to drive up agricultural prices would not help much. Most farmers had long since lost the deeds to their land and were renters. So the planters go paid not to plant, but the share croppers got nothing. It would take the massive infusion of cash during WWII and the invention of mechanized cotton harvesting to really kill the system. WWII not only built bases, but via the GI Bill provided incentives to go to school and you see the start of an educated class in the South that is not also part of the land owning class.

    Of course these were mostly whites, and they moved to the cities or left the region altogether. In the black belt especially the delta, the displaced former black sharecroppers were left with nothing as usual- a state that persist today. The modern delta region has a median income on par with Mexico around $17,000 a year as compared to the national median of around $45,000.

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  • Julie
    replied
    The above is my opinion of social reconstruction.

    Economically speaking, economic historians who have examined the immediate effects of the war have reached a few important conclusions:

    First, the idea that the South was physically destroyed by the fighting has been largely discarded. Most writers have accepted the argument of Ransom and Sutch (2001) that the major "damage" to the South from the war was the depreciation and neglect of property on farms as a significant portion of the male workforce went off to war for several years.

    Second was the impact of emancipation. Slaveholders lost their enormous investment in slaves as a result of emancipation. Planters were consequently strapped for capital in the years immediately after the war, and this affected their options with regard to labor contracts with the freedmen and in their dealings with capital markets to obtain credit for the planting season. The freedmen and their families responded to emancipation by withdrawing up to a third of their labor from the market. While this was a perfectly reasonable response, it had the effect of creating an apparent labor "shortage" and it convinced white landlords that a free labor system could never work with the ex-slaves; thus further complicating an already unsettled labor market. In the longer run, as Gavin Wright (1986) put it, emancipation transformed the white landowners from "laborlords" to "landlords." This was not a simple transition. While they were able, for the most part, to cling to their landholdings, the ex-slaveholders were ultimately forced to break up the great plantations that had been the cornerstone of the antebellum Southern economy and rent small parcels of land to the freedmen under using a new form of rental contract -- sharecropping. From a situation where tenancy was extremely rare, the South suddenly became an agricultural economy characterized by tenant farms.

    The result was an economy that remained heavily committed not only to agriculture, but to the staple crop of cotton. Crop output in the South fell dramatically at the end of the war, and had not yet recovered its antebellum level by 1879. The loss of income was particularly hard on white Southerners; per capita income of whites in 1857 had been $125; in 1879 it was just over $80 (Ransom and Sutch 1979). Over the last quarter of the nineteenth century, gross crop output in the South rose by about one percent per year at a time when the GNP of United States (including the South) was rising at twice that rate. By the end of the century, Southern per capita income had fallen to roughly two-thirds the national level, and the South was locked in a cycle of poverty that lasted well into the twentieth century.

    How much of this failure was due solely to the war remains open to debate.

    http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/ransom.civil.war.us

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  • Julie
    replied
    Reconstruction officially ended in 1877 when the new president, Rutherford B. Hayes, removed the last federal troops from the public and put them back to their barracks. Reconstruction was a noble attempt by Radical Republicans in Congress, along with moderates, to attempt to bring blacks into American society.

    However, due to the many obstacles which faced them - reluctant presidents, a vicious and brutal Southern atmosphere, lack of funds, lack of a clear understanding of what was necessary - Reconstruction failed relatively quickly. It was a period when many people from the North had certain zeal to go and right the wrongs of the pre Civil War South, but that too faded quickly as even teachers were harassed for attempting to help the Negroes.

    Some people argue that Reconstruction was a period in which Congress abused its powers and overstepped the Constitution in order to get their ideologies put forth. This is possible, depending on which side one is looking at it from. There were many times when it seemed as Northern Republicans were overstepping their boundaries, such as the Third Enforcement Act when there was talk about suspending Habeas Corpus in order to combat the Ku Klux Klan. However, I am sure that the freedmen did not care about the Constitution when it came to their lives being taken by madmen in white sheets.

    I see Reconstruction as the United States government attempting to bring a rebel society more in line with, not only the Constitution, but also principles of humanity and the belief that all men should have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It would be about another century, during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s before America began grappling again with the moral questions which were so prevalent during Reconstruction.

    I have done alot of reading Shek, and I have concluded that all forms and attempts of reconstruction were a failure, which is why it took a full century until the MLK era.

    Your thoughts?

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  • Julie
    replied
    The failure of the United States to implement post-conflict amnesty in a non-partisan manner during the Reconstruction Era exacerbated sectional and political tensions and economic recovery problems. Continuing tensions from this flawed approach led to the near-term failure of reconciliation. That failure led to over a century of social and moral dilapidation in the South and social angst in the rest of the United States.

    The failures of political leaders to place the national interest above partisan political agendas led to the return of sectionalism in the United States. Only nation-wide mobilization to fight the Spanish-American War—and later, two world wars—would give the nation unifying causes large enough to overcome sectionalism. The crossing of sectional boundaries for military training helped reconcile the white population.

    The use of federalized troops in 1957 to force desegregation of the high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, showed that it took almost a century before the U.S. government was willing to use federal power to make political changes required for true social reconciliation.

    But as some degrees of sectionalism and racism linger in this country, current events sometimes lead one to wonder if reconciliation in post-Civil War United States has yet to finish. Certainly, the reconciliation that has occurred appears imperfect to many.

    http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/Military...228_art009.pdf

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  • Shek
    replied
    Here's an essay that discusses the counterrevolution that ended Northern will and resulted in the cessation of Reconstruction, both in terms of maintaining a federal presence in the South as well as in terms of ending the enforcement of the newly passed amendments in the South:

    http://warhistorian.org/hogue-colfax.pdf
    Attached Files

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  • Julie
    replied
    Virginia's economic prosperity in the twentieth century depended more on industry and government than on traditional agriculture. Until the 1990s, government was the second largest source of employment in Virginia, but the reduction of the United States military in that decade has meant the loss of thousands of military-related jobs. Tourism had developed into a billion-dollar-a-year enterprise by 1970 and remains an important industry.

    In the sphere of Virginia agriculture, which continues to decline in relative importance, the most significant changes came in the development of increasing numbers of dairy farms in the northern part of the state and of truck farms on the eastern shore. Peanut growing and processing centered around Suffolk, and the production of Smithfield hams replaced tobacco as the standard staple among a large number of southside farms.

    The significance of manufacturing also has fallen recently in Virginia's economy, with jobs in trade and service increasing to replace it. Nonetheless, the per capita income of Virginians remains almost 10 percent above the national average.

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  • Julie
    replied
    State by State, Virginia to be first.

    Virginia

    Richmond, the capital city of the Confederacy and an important port city, languished after the war, unable to compete with new railroads. Covered with battle sites, Virginia was one of the states most damaged by war; farm values plummeted from the fifth-highest in the nation to the 10th. The state attempted to attract capital with low taxes and subsidies.

    1860

    Number of Farms 86,468
    Value of Farm Land $371.8 million
    Number of Factories 5,385
    Value of Manufactured Products $50.7 million

    1870

    Number of Farms 73,849
    Value of Farm Land $213 million
    Number of Factories 5,933
    Value of Manufactured Products $38.4 million


    Data source: University of Virginia Geospatial and Statistical Data Center. United States Historical Census Data Browser.
    University of Virginia Library

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  • Julie
    replied
    From what I gather, the railroads were repaired rather quickly after the war and the manufacturing industry in the South did fairly well, but the agricultural sector lacked labor in the fields, and the livestock was devastated during the war. Plantation farming was replaced by tenant-farming. Still reading...

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  • Shek
    replied
    Here's a work that specifically addresses the economics postbellum:

    One kind of freedom: the economic ... - Google Books

    By their statistics, industry and infrastructure were at pre-war levels by 1869/1870 and "recovered." Farmland was cleared and ready for pre-war level production by 1867; however, they had less labor available (emancipation and death) and so they couldn't produce the same yields.

    From this, recovery was complete within 5 years with the exception that all money invested in slaves was lost and crop yields would take longer to recover due to the loss of laborers. I've seen another thesis that under sharecropping, you couldn't get the same amount of mileage out of field hands as you could have under slavery, which would be another potential reason for lesser agricultural output.

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  • Shek
    replied
    Here's a link with the number of US soldiers stationed in the South during Reconstruction at various periods:

    reconstruction: Definition from Answers.com

    April 1865 - 250K
    Sep 1865 - 187K*
    Dec 1865 - 88K*
    Apr 1866 - 39K*
    Dec 1866 - 20K*
    Oct 1868 - 18K (6K on Texas border)
    Fall 1876 - 6K (3K on Texas border)

    *Numbers aren't given, but these figures include soldiers who weren't involved in enforcing order in the South and instead were stationed on the Texas border with Mexico to protect against a French invasion.

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  • Julie
    replied
    Originally posted by Shek View Post
    As per Julie's request, here's a thread to discuss all things Reconstruction: the recovery of the Southern economy following the ACW, the facts and myths of how Reconstruction was executed, and anything else such as the acutal Reconstruction legislation.
    Wow, that was fast. ;)

    I gotta read-up before I do any posting. Later. :)

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  • Shek
    replied
    Since Sherman's march to Savannah and then north through the Carolina's often is used to set the stage about the destruction found after the war, here's a map that shows the march route. The width of his columns totaled 50-60 miles, and so that is the swath of "destruction." Most of GA, SC, and NC was therefore untouched by Sherman, and despite his rhetoric, only SC truly saw unencumbered destruction for their role in being the first state to secede.

    The state that probably suffered the most was Virginia, and with the exception of the Shenandoah Valley and Sheridan's operations there in 1864, the destruction came from the simple routine of foraging fences/trees/abandoned buildings for firewood and breastworks material and crops/livestock to supplement rations (this was done by both sides). To give a relative measure, the second largest city in the Confederacy during the ACW was wherever the AOP was encamped.

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