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The history of the Southern United States reaches back thousands of years and includes the Mississippian peoples, well known for their mound building. European history in the region began in the very earliest days of the exploration and colonization of North America. Spain, France, and England eventually explored and claimed parts of what is now the Southern United States, and the cultural influences of each can still be seen in the region today. In the centuries since, the history of the Southern United States has recorded a large number of important events, including the American Revolution, the American Civil War, the ending of slavery, and the American Civil Rights Movement.

Native American civilizations[edit | edit source]

In Pre-Columbian times (before Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492), the only inhabitants of what is now the Southern United States were Native Americans. The most important Native American nation in the region was the Mississippian people, who were a Mound builder culture that flourished in the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States in the centuries leading up to European contact. The Mississippian way of life began to develop around the 10th century in the Mississippi River Valley (for which it is named).

Notable Native American nations that developed in the South after the Mississippians include what are known as "the Five Civilized Tribes": the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole.

These people were for the most part hunters and farmers. Some were Wikipedia:nomadic, but others built fortified villages, as there were frequent wars between tribes. In villages, a central meeting house was the focal point and was used for ceremonial purposes, or for religious worship. Some built mounds to honor their dead. Women made pottery from clay and decorated it with depictions of people and animals. Some tribes had a caste system in which chiefs and their families were honored and a kind of nobility existed.

European colonization[edit | edit source]

Spanish exploration[edit | edit source]

After Christopher Columbus discovered the West Indies, Spain made frequent exploratory trips to the New World. Rumors of natives being decorated with gold and stories of a Fountain of Youth helped hold the interest of many Spanish explorers, and colonization eventually followed. Juan Ponce de León was the first European to come to the South when he landed in Florida in 1513.

Among the first European settlements in North America were Spanish settlements in what would later become the state of Florida; the earliest was Tristán de Luna y Arellano's failed colony in what is now Pensacola in 1559. More successful was Pedro Menéndez de Avilés's St. Augustine, founded in 1565; St. Augustine remains the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the continental United States. Spain also colonized parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

French colonization[edit | edit source]

The first French settlement in what is now the Southern United States was Fort Caroline, located in what is now Jacksonville, Florida, in 1562. It was established as a haven for the Huguenots and was founded under the leadership of René Goulaine de Laudonnière and Jean Ribault. It was destroyed by the Spanish from the nearby colony of St. Augustine in 1565.

Later French arrived from the north. Having established agricultural colonies in Canada and built a fur trading network with Indians in the Great Lakes area, they began to explore the Mississippi River. The French called their territory Louisiana, in honor of their King Louis. France claimed Texas and set up several short-lived forts there, such as the one in Red River County, built in 1718. In 1817 the French pirate Jean Lafitte settled on Galveston Island; his colony there grew to more than 1,000 persons by 1818 but was abandoned in 1820. The most important French settlements were established at New Orleans and Mobile (originally called [?] and Bienville). Only a few settlers came from France directly, with others arriving from Haiti and Acadia.[1]

American Colonial Era (1607-1775)[edit | edit source]

Jamestown and Roanoke Island colonies

Just before they defeated the Spanish Armada, the English began exploring the New World. In 1585 an expedition organized by Walter Raleigh established the first English settlement in the New World, on Roanoke Island, North Carolina. The colony failed to prosper, however, and the colonists were retrieved the following year by English supply ships. In 1587, Raleigh again sent out a group of colonists to Roanoke. From this colony, the first recorded European birth in North America, a child named Virginia Dare, was reported. That group of colonists disappeared and is known as the "Lost Colony". Many people theorize that they were either killed or taken in by local tribes.

Like New England, the South was originally settled by English Protestants, later becoming a melting pot of religions as with other parts of the country. While the earlier attempt at colonization had failed on Roanoke Island, the English established their first permanent colony in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, at the mouth of the James River, which in turn empties into Chesapeake Bay.

Settlement of Chesapeake Bay was driven by a desire to obtain precious metal resources, specifically gold. The colony was technically still within Spanish territorial claims, yet far enough from most Spanish settlements to avoid colonial clashes. As the "Anchor of the South", the region includes the Delmarva Peninsula and much of coastal Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia .

Early in the history of the colony, it became clear that the claims of gold deposits were vastly exaggerated. Referred to as the "Starving Time" of the Jamestown colony, the years from the time of landing in 1607 until 1609 were rife with famine and instability. However, Native American support, in addition to reinforcements from Britain, sustained the colony.

Due to continued political and economic instability, however, the charter of the Colony of Virginia was revoked in 1624. The primary cause of this revocation was the revelation that hundreds of settlers were dead or missing following an attack in 1622 by Native American tribes led by Opechancanough. A royal charter was established for Virginia, yet the House of Burgesses, formed in 1619, was allowed to continue as political leadership for the colony in conjunction with a royal governor.

A key figure in the Virginia Colony and Southern political and cultural development generally was William Berkeley, who served, with some interruptions, as governor of Virginia from 1645 until 1675. His desire for an elite immigration to Virginia led to the "Second Sons" policy, in which younger sons of English aristocrats were recruited to emigrate to Virginia. Berkeley also emphasized the "headright system," the offering of large tracts of land to those arriving in the colony. This early immigration by an elite contributed to the development of an aristocratic political and social structure in the South.

Despite the early failures, English colonists continued to arrive along the southern Atlantic coast. Virginia became a prosperous English colony. The area now known as Georgia, was also settled, though its beginnings were as a penal colony similar to what was established by the English in Australia. Prisoners bound for Australia were originally meant for Louisiana, to effect legitimate conquest of New France with civilian occupation and thus extend British North America. This strategy was abandoned at the Treaty of Paris and because the Patriots were firm in their conviction that no White man should endure slavery, even as Black slaves were being manumitted by the abolitionist movement in the British Isles.

Rise of tobacco culture and slavery in the colonial South[edit | edit source]

From the introduction of tobacco in 1613, its cultivation began to form the basis of the early Southern economy. Cotton did not become a mainstay until much later, after technological developments, especially the Whitney Cotton gin of 1794, greatly increased the profitability of cotton cultivation. Until that point, most cotton was farmed in large plantations in the Province of Carolina, and tobacco, which could be grown profitably in farms of smaller scale, was the dominant cash crop export of the South and the Middle Atlantic States.

Early slave ship, carrying hundreds of slaves in crowded, unhealthy conditions

The earliest form of slavery in the colonies emerged from the first introduction of slaves in 1619 aboard a Dutch slave ship until, approximately the 1660s, when slaves became a better economic labor force than indentured servants. During this period, often life expectancy was low and indentured servants came from overpopulated European areas. With the lower price of servants compared to slaves, and the high mortality of the servants, planters often found it much more economical to use servants.

Because of this, slavery in the early colonial period differed greatly in the American colonies from that in the Caribbean. Often Caribbean slaves were worked literally to death on large sugar and rice plantations, while the American slave population had a higher life expectancy and was maintained through natural reproduction. This natural reproduction was important for the continuation of slavery after the prohibition on slave importation in 1808 by the United States Congress.

Much of the slave trade was conducted as part of the "Triangular Trade", a three-way exchange of slaves, rum, and sugar. Southern planters purchased slaves using rum, made in New England from cane sugar, which was in turn grown in the Caribbean. This slave trade was generally able to fulfill labor needs in the South for the cultivation of tobacco after the decline of indentured servants.

At approximately the point when tobacco labor needs began to increase, the mortality of the colonies decreased. By the late 17th century and early 18th century, slaves became economically viable sources of labor for the growing tobacco culture. Also, further South than the Mid-Atlantic, Southern settlers grew wealthy by raising and selling rice, indigo, and cotton. The plantations of South Carolina often were modeled on Caribbean plantations, yet never attained similar size.

The growth of the Southern colonies[edit | edit source]

For details on each specific colony, see Province of Georgia, Province of Maryland, Province of North Carolina, Province of South Carolina, and Virginia Colony.

By the end of the 17th century, the number of colonists was growing. The large population centers were still in the northeastern and middle colonies, leaving the southern colonies of Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina a rural frontier land. The economies of these colonies were tied to agriculture. During this time the great plantations were formed by wealthy colonists who saw great opportunity in the new country. Tobacco and cotton were the main cash crops of the areas and were readily accepted by English buyers. Rice and indigo were also grown in the area and exported to Europe. The plantation owners built a vast aristocratic life and accumulated a great deal of wealth from their land. They supported slavery as a means of working their land and tended to keep close ties with the European cultural circles.

On the other side of the agricultural coin were the small yeoman farmers. They did not have the capability or wealth to operate large plantations. Instead, they worked small tracts of land and developed a political activism in response to the growing oligarchy of the plantation owners. Many politicians from this era were yeoman farmers speaking out to protect their rights as free men.

Charleston became a booming trade town for the southern colonies. The abundance of pine trees in the area provided raw materials for shipyards to develop and the harbor provided a safe port for English ships bringing in imported goods. The colonists exported tobacco, cotton and textiles and imported tea, sugar and slaves. The fact that these colonies maintained an independent trade relation with England and the rest of Europe became a major factor later on as tension mounted leading up to the American Revolutionary War.

After the late 17th century, the economies of the North and the South began to diverge, especially in coastal areas. The Southern emphasis on export production contrasted with the Northern emphasis on food production.

By the mid-18th century, the colonies of Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia had been established. In the upper colonies, that is, Maryland, Virginia, and portions of North Carolina, the tobacco culture prevailed. However, in the lower colonies of South Carolina and Georgia, cultivation focused more on cotton and rice.

American Revolutionary War, Battle of Camden, South Carolina

Antebellum Era (1781-1860)[edit | edit source]

After the upheaval of the American Revolution effectively ended in 1781 at the Battle of Yorktown, the South became a major political force in the development of the United States. With the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, the South found political stability, with little federal interference in state affairs. However, with this stability came weakness by design, and the inability of the Confederation to maintain economic viability eventually forced the creation of the United States Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787. Importantly, Southerners of 1861 often believed their secessionist efforts and the Civil War paralleled the American Revolution, as a military and ideological "replay" of the latter.

Southern leaders were able to protect their sectional interests during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, preventing the insertion of any explicit anti-slavery position in the Constitution. Moreover, they were able to force the inclusion of the "fugitive slave clause" and the "Three-Fifths Compromise". Nevertheless, Congress retained the power to regulate the slave trade, and 20 years after the ratification of the Constitution, Congress prohibited the importation of slaves effective January 1, 1808. While North and South were able to find common ground in order to gain the benefits of a strong Union, the unity achieved in the Constitution masked deeply rooted differences in economic and political interests. After the convention, two emerging understandings of American republicanism came to loggerheads.

For the North, a Puritanical republicanism predominated, with leaders such as Alexander Hamilton and John Adams. In the South, Agrarian republicanism formed the basis of political culture. While both attempted to preserve their "way of life" in order to preserve the Union, their methods of this preservation were quite different. While Northern republicans aimed to make better people and thus ensure the survival of democracy, Southerners focused on making better conditions. Led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the Agrarian republican position is characterized by the epitaph on the grave of Jefferson. While including his "condition bettering" roles in the foundation of the University of Virginia, and the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, absent was his role in the federal government as president of the United States. Southern development of political thought thus focused on the ideal of the yeoman farmer; i.e., those who are tied to the land also have a vested interest in the stability and survival of the government.

Antebellum slavery[edit | edit source]

See also Wikipedia:History of slavery in the United States

In the decades immediately following the ratification of the Constitution, slavery in the South continued without substantial opposition from the North. Though some in the North viewed slavery as a moral issue, most were indifferent, and some even believed that the abolition of slavery would be detrimental to their economic interests. As for Southerners, before the cotton boom, large plantations with dozens or hundreds of slaves were rare, and usually found in the Deep South. The vast majority of Southerners never owned slaves. Most were independent yeoman farmers much like their counterparts in the North. Nevertheless, the slave system represented the basis of the Southern social and economic system, and thus even non-slaveowners often violently opposed any suggestions for terminating that system, whether through abolition or gradual emancipation.

Nullification crisis, political representation, and rising sectionalism[edit | edit source]

See also, Nullification and Nullification crisis

Although slavery had yet to become a major issue, states' rights issues surfaced periodically in the early antebellum period, especially in the South. The election of Federalist John Adams in the 1796 presidential election came in tandem with escalating tensions with France. In 1798, the XYZ Affair brought these tensions to the fore, and Adams became concerned about French power in America, fearing internal sabotage and malcontent brought on by French agents. In response to these developments and to repeated attacks on Adams and the Federalists by Democratic-Republican publishers, Congress enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts. Enforcement of the acts resulted in the jailing of "seditious" Democratic-Republican editors throughout the North and South, and prompted the adoption of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798 (authored by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison), by the legislatures of those states.

Thirty years later, during the "Nullification" crisis, the "Principles of '98" embodied in these resolutions were cited by leaders in South Carolina as a justification for state legislatures' asserting the power to nullify, or prevent the local application of, acts of the federal Congress that they deemed unconstitutional. The Nullification crisis arose as a result of the Wikipedia:Tariff of 1828, a set of high taxes on imports of manufactures, enacted by Congress as a protectionist measure to foster the development of domestic industry, primarily in the North. In 1832, the legislature of South Carolina nullified the entire "Tariff of Abominations," as the Tariff of 1828 was known in the South, prompting a stand-off between the state and federal government. Although the crisis was resolved through a combination of the actions of President Andrew Jackson, Congressional reduction of the tariff, and the Force Bill, it had lasting importance for the later development of secessionist thought.[2]

Another issue feeding sectionalism was slavery, and especially the issue of whether to permit slavery in western territories seeking admission to the Union as states. In the early 1800s, as the cotton boom took hold, slavery became more economically viable on a large scale, and more Northerners began to perceive it as an economic threat, even if they remained indifferent to its moral dimension. While relatively few Northerners favored outright abolition, many more opposed the expansion of slavery to new territories, as in their view the availability of slaves lowered wages for free labor.

At the same time, Southerners increasingly perceived the economic and population growth of the North as threatening to their interests. For several decades after the Union was formed, as new states were admitted, North and South were able to finesse their sectional differences and maintain political balance by agreeing to admit "slave" and "free" states in equal numbers. By means of this compromise approach, the balance of power in the Senate could be extended indefinitely. The House of Representatives, however, was a different matter. As the North industrialized and its population grew, aided by a major influx of European immigrants, the Northern majority in the House of Representatives also grew, making Southern political leaders increasingly uncomfortable. Southerners became concerned that they would soon find themselves at the mercy of a federal government in which they no longer had sufficient representation to protect their interests. By the late 1840s, Senator Jefferson Davis from Mississippi stated that the new Northern majority in the Congress would make the government of the United States "an engine of Northern aggrandizement" and that Northern leaders had an agenda to "promote the industry of the United States at the expense of the people of the South."

Beginning around the time of the Mexican War, which alarmed many Northerners by adding new territory on the Southern side of the free-slave boundary, the slavery-in-the-territories issue heated up dramatically. In the Compromise of 1850, sectional conflict was narrowly averted by a jury-rigged deal in which California was admitted as a free state while slavery was allowed in the New Mexico territories and a law was passed requiring all citizens to assist in recapturing runaway slaves wherever found. Four years later, the peace bought with successive compromises finally came to an end. In the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Congress left the issue of slavery to a vote in each territory, thereby provoking a breakdown of law and order as rival groups of pro- and anti-slavery immigrants competed to populate the newly settled region.

Election of 1860, secession, and Lincoln's response[edit | edit source]

For many Southerners, the last straws were the raid on Harper's Ferry in 1859 by fanatical abolitionist John Brown, immediately followed by a Northern Republican presidential victory in the election of 1860. Due primarily to a North-South split in the majority Democratic party, Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected president with only 40% of the popular vote and without the electoral votes of any Southern state. Indeed, only 2 of the 996 counties of the South voted for Lincoln. Reference:U.S. presidential election

Many Southerners viewed their political survival in doubt. Members of the South Carolina legislature had previously sworn to secede from the Union if Lincoln was elected, and made good on their pledge by voting to secede on December 20, 1860. Following South Carolina, the Mississippi legislature voted for secession on January 9, 1861, as did Florida on the 10th. Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas followed within the next month. The sitting President, James Buchanan, believed himself powerless to act. Throughout the South, authorities occupied federal arsenals and fortifications without resistance. In the four months between Lincoln's election and his inauguration, the South strengthened its military position unmolested.

Once in office, Lincoln saw no prospect of a peaceful resolution, but was reluctant to resort to military force immediately to compel the Southern states to return to the Union. Lincoln wanted to provoke the South to make the first hostile move, so that Southern aggression could be used to rally Northern support for a military solution. When a supply ship was dispatched to federal-held Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, secessionists felt obliged to act. To forestall the resupply of the fort, artillery opened fire on April 12, 1861, forcing rapid capitulation of the fort. In response to the attack on Fort Sumter, President Lincoln immediately called upon the states to supply 75,000 troops to serve for ninety days against “combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings.” As a result of this call by Lincoln for troops to invade another Southern state, Virginia, Arkansas, and Tennessee promptly seceded.

The eleven Southern states that left the Union agreed to form a separate nation, the Confederate States of America. Both sides wanted the border states, but the Union took control of all of them by 1862, and the western part of Virginia eventually split off to form the new Union state of West Virginia. The Union naval blockade starting in 1861 prevented most commercial contact by the Confederates with the outside world; only British-owned blockade-runners got through. The South's vast cotton crops became nearly worthless.

Civil War (1860-1865)[edit | edit source]

Order of states' secession, Civil War, and re-admission of states to the Union

For details, see main article American Civil War.

The American Civil War of 1861 to 1865 devastated the Old South socially and economically. Before the war, the South was the wealthiest part of the United States. After the war, during the Reconstruction period, the South struggled to rise from poverty and worked to establish a successful economy from the ashes. Richmond, Virginia, the former Capital of the Confederacy, grew quickly mostly due to its railroads, canals, and cutting edge electric trolley system, and later its Federal Reserve Bank.

Out-gunned, out-manned, and out-financed, defeat loomed over the head of the Confederacy after four years of fighting. Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, advocated resorting to guerrilla warfare to extend the struggle for an even longer time, but his generals, notably Robert E. Lee, felt the honorable thing to do was to end the war and begin reconciliation with the North.

Reconstruction (1865-1877)[edit | edit source]

The devastation caused by the war ranged widely. Worst of all were the human deaths and amputations. Most farms were intact but most had lost their horses, mules and cattle. Regionwide the systematic destruction of the transportation system by both armies was crippling. As one historian describes it: [Ezell 1966, pp 27-28]

One of the greatest calamities which confronted Southerners was the havoc wrought on the transportation system. Roads were impassable or nonexistent, and bridges were destroyed or washed away. The important river traffic was at a standstill: levees were broken, channels were blocked, the few steamboats which had not been captured or destroyed were in a state of disrepair, wharves had decayed or were missing, and trained personnel were dead or dispersed. Horses, mules, oxen, carriages, wagons, and carts had nearly all fallen prey at one time or another to the contending armies. The railroads were paralyzed, with most of the companies bankrupt. These lines had been the special target of the enemy. On one stretch of 114 miles in Alabama, "every bridge and trestle was destroyed, cross-ties rotten, buildings burned, water-tanks gone, ditches filled up, and tracks grown up in weeds and bushes." Sherman's men had destroyed all railroad equipment within reach -- 136 of 281 miles of the Central of Georgia, alone -- and added the novelty of twisting heated rails around trees. In Alabama nearly all of its 800 miles of railway was useless. One Mississippi line reported fit for use, though damaged, a total of one locomotive, two second-class passenger cars, one first-class passenger car, one baggage car, one provision car, two stock cars, and two flat cars. Communication centers like Columbia and Atlanta were in ruins; shops and foundries were wrecked or in disrepair. Even those areas bypassed by battle had been pirated for equipment needed on the battlefront, and the wear and tear of wartime usage without adequate repairs or replacements reduced all to a state of disintegration. Not for a generation were the railroads properly restored, and then largely by Northern capital.

Abolition of slavery[edit | edit source]

At the outbreak of the war, slavery was legal in the Union States of Missouri, Delaware, Maryland, and Kentucky. Slavery was also legal in Washington D.C. and remained legal in the new Union State of West Virginia. On January 1, 1863, as the third year of the war approached, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in US states not under Federal control. This had several effects, to include augmenting the ranks of the Union Army with black soldiers, as well as transforming the character of the war into a crusade for freedom. The Emancipation Proclamation was, however, limited in many ways. It applied only to states that had seceded from the Union, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also expressly exempted parts of the Confederacy that had already come under Northern control. Most importantly, the freedom it promised depended upon Union military victory. In 1864, a year before the war came to an end, the Southern States of Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana abolished slavery.

Contrary to common belief, the end of the war did not equate to the end of slavery. Slavery still existed in some states until the Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution passed in December 1865, eight months after General Lee's surrender.

Reconstruction, 1865-1877[edit | edit source]

Reconstruction was the process by which the states returned to full status. It took place in four stages, which varied by state. Tennessee and the border states were not affected. First came the governments appointed by President Andrew Johnson that lasted 1865-66. The Freedman's Bureau was active, helping refugees, setting up employment contracts for Freedmen, and setting up courts and schools for the Freedmen. Second came rule by the U.S. Army, which held elections that included all Freedmen but excluded over 10,000 Confederate leaders. Third was "Radical Reconstruction" or "Black Reconstruction" in which a Republican coalition governed the state, comprising a coalition of Freedmen, Scalawags (native whites) and Carpetbaggers (migrants from the North). Violent resistance by the Ku Klux Klan and related groups was suppressed by President Ulysses S. Grant and the vigorous use of federal courts and soldiers in 1868-70. The Reconstruction governments spend large sums on railroad subsidies and schools, but quadrupled taxes and set off a tax revolt among conservatives. Stage four was reached by 1876 as the conservative coalition, called Redeemers, had won political control of all the states except South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana. The disputed presidential election of 1876 hinged on those three violently contested states. The outcome was the Compromise of 1877 whereby the Republican Rutherford Hayes became president and all federal troops were withdrawn from the South, leading to the immediate collapse of the last Republican state governments.

In 1866 at stage 2, the states were grouped into five military districts.

Backlash to Reconstruction[edit | edit source]

Reconstruction was a harsh time for many white Southerners who found themselves without many of the basic rights of citizenship (such as the ability to vote), Reconstruction was also a time when many African Americans began to secure these same rights. With the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution (which outlawed slavery), the 14th Amendment (which granted full U.S. citizenship to African Americans) and the 15th Amendment (which extended the right to vote to black males), African Americans in the South began to enjoy more rights than they had ever had in the past.

The South was rural in 1890
Agriculture's Share of the Labor Force by Region, 1890

Northeast 15%
Middle Atlantic 17%
Midwest 43%
South Atlantic 63%
South Central 67%
West 29%

Race: From Jim Crow to the Civil Rights Movement[edit | edit source]

After the Redeemers took control in the mid 1870s, Jim Crow laws were created to legally enforce racial segregation. The most extreme white leader was Senator Ben Tillman of South Carolina, who proudly proclaimed in 1900, "We have done our level best [to prevent blacks from voting]...we have scratched our heads to find out how we could eliminate the last one of them. We stuffed ballot boxes. We shot them. We are not ashamed of it." (Logan, p. 91)

With no voting rights and no voice in government, Blacks in the South were subjected to a system of segregation and discrimination. Blacks and whites attended separate schools. Blacks could not serve on juries, which meant that they had little if any legal recourse. In Black Boy, an autobiographical account of life during this time, Richard Wright writes about being struck with a bottle and knocked from a moving truck for failing to call a white man "sir" (Wright, Chapter Nine). Between 1889 and 1922, the NAACP calculates that lynchings reached their worst level in history, with almost 3,500 people, three-fourths of them black men, murdered.[2]

In response to this treatment, the South witnessed two major events in the lives of 20th century African Americans: the Great Migration and the American Civil Rights Movement.

The Great Migration began during World War I, hitting its high point during World War II. During this migration, Black people left the racism and lack of opportunities in the South and settled in northern cities like Chicago, where they found work in factories and other sectors of the economy. (Katzman, 1996) This migration produced a new sense of independence in the Black community and contributed to the vibrant Black urban culture seen during the Harlem Renaissance.

The migration also empowered the growing American Civil Rights Movement. While the Civil Rights movement existed in all parts of the United States, its focus was against the Jim Crow laws in the South. Most of the major events in the movement occurred in the South, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Mississippi Freedom Summer, the March on Selma, Alabama, and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.. In addition, some of the most important writings to come out of the movement were written in the South, such as King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail".

As a result of the Civil Rights Laws of 1964 and 1965, all Jim Crow laws across the South were dropped. This change in the South's racial climate combined with the new industrialization in the region to help usher in what is called the New South.

Development and evolution of the "New South" (1945—present)[edit | edit source]

In the decades after World War II, the old agrarian Southern economy evolved into the "New South" – a manufacturing region with strong roots in Northern-style financial capitalism. As a result, high-rise buildings began to crowd the skylines of Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Houston, Dallas, Nashville, and Little Rock.

This industrialization and modernization of the South picked up speed with the ending of racial segregation laws in the 1970s. Today, the economy of the South is a diverse mixture of agriculture, light and heavy industry, tourism, and high technology companies, and is becoming increasingly integrated into the global economy. In addition, since the end of the Civil Rights Movement, the region has found itself often leading the country in working to end racial strife. As proof of this, some people cite the fact that a second Great Migration appears to be under way, with African Americans whose parents left the South two generations ago moving back to the region in record numbers.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  • Thomas P. Abernethy. The South in the New Nation, 1789–1819. LSU Press.
  • John R. Alden. The South in the Revolution, 1763–1789. LSU Press.
  • Edward L. Ayers; The Promise of the New South: Life after Reconstruction Oxford University Press, 1993 online edition
  • Numan V. Bartley. The New South, 1945–1980. LSU Press.
  • Avery O. Craven. The Growth of Southern Nationalism, 1848–1861. LSU Press.
  • Wesley Frank Craven. The Southern Colonies in the Seventeenth Century, 1607–1689. LSU Press.
  • E. Merton Coulter. The Confederate States of America, 1861–1865. LSU Press.
  • E. Merton Coulter. The South During Reconstruction, 1865–1877. LSU Press.
  • William C. Davis (2003). Look Away! A History of the Confederate States of America. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-684-86585-8. 
  • John Samuel Ezell; The South since 1865 Macmillan, 1963.
  • Heather A. Haveman. "Antebellum literary culture and the evolution of American magazines." Poetics 32 (2004): 5-28.
  • William B. Hesseltine; A History of the South, 1607-1936 Prentice-Hall, 1936 online edition
  • David M. Katzman, "Black Migration," in The Reader's Companion to American History, Houghton Mifflin Co. (accessed July 6, 2005);
  • Jay B. Hubbell; The South in American Literature, 1607-1900 Duke University Press, 1973
  • Peter Kolchin (1993). American Slavery: 1619-1877. New York: Hill and Wang. ISBN 0-8090-1630-3. 
  • Alexander P. Lamis, ed. Southern Politics in the 1990s Louisiana State University Press, 1999.
  • James Loewen, Lies Across America, New York: Touchstone, 1999.
  • Rayford Logan,The Betrayal of the Negro from Rutherford B. Hayes to Woodrow Wilson,, 1997. (This is an expanded edition of Logan, The Negro in American Life and Thought, The Nadir, 1877-1901 (1954)
  • Laurence W. Moreland; et al. Blacks in Southern Politics Praeger Publishers, 1987 online edition
  • Thomas G. Paterson, ed. (1999). Major Problems in the History of the American South. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-395-87139-5.  readings from primary and secondary sources
  • Michael Perman; Struggle for Mastery: Disfranchisement in the South, 1888-1908 University of North Carolina Press, 2001
  • John David Smith and John C. Inscoe, eds; Ulrich Bonnell Phillips: A Southern Historian and His Critics Greenwood Press, 1990 online edition
  • Charles W. Sydnor. The Development of Southern Sectionalism, 1819–1848. LSU Press.
  • George B. Tindall. The Emergence of the New South, 1913–1945. LSU Press.
  • C. Vann Woodward. Origins of the New South, 1877–1913. LSU Press.
  • Bertram Wyatt-Brown (1990). Honor and Violence in the Old South. New York: Oxford Univ. Press. ISBN 0-19-504242-5. 

  1. ^ Robert S. Weddle, The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762(1991).
  2. ^ An additional factor that led to Southern [[Wikipedia:sectionalism|]] was the proliferation of cultural and literary magazines such as the [[Wikipedia:Southern Literary Messenger|]] and [[Wikipedia:DeBow's Review|]]. [1]

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