Examine the economic development of the South after the Civil War in an era of rapid industrialization and consider the impact of race and racism on social relations and the region’s relative poverty.
The South was primarily agrarian before the Civil War, a factor that, along with the destruction of slavery, ultimately contributed to its defeat by the more industrialized North. After the war, agriculture changed—not only because of warfare, but also the liberation of enslaved blacks, on whose backs the southern agricultural system had been built.
The region’s leaders hoped to rise from defeat and use industrialization to help the South’s people and economy revive. They aimed to restore the South to at least equality to the rest of the country. By the end of the nineteenth century the South had undergone some industrialization, but the region remained dependent on agriculture and the politics of white supremacy.
Before you begin this discussion be sure to read the Module Notes, review Chapter 15: “Reconstruction” (attached) and read Chapter 16: “Capital and Labor” (attached) in The American Yawp, and read the following primary sources: “New South” (attached) and “Still Livin’ Under the Bonds of Slavery.” (attached)
Using the primary and secondary source materials above as evidence, consider the following in a post of at least 250 words:
- Which factors were most responsible for the South’s relative poverty by the end of the nineteenth century?
- What hypothetical changes or reforms might have altered the South’s trajectory after the Civil War?