Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The New South: Railroads and Mill Towns

Lanett and Opelika in Alabama….Amity in Arkansas…..Hogansville, Canton, and Douglasville in Georgia….Concord and Carrboro in North Carolina and Cherokee Falls, Piedmont and Whitmire in South Carolina…..All of these places including many other cities and towns across the South were all major mill towns birthed during the New South era.

The New South Era has as many definitions as other historical periods such as the Gilded Age or the Progressive Era, but for my purposes here I’m going with Edward L. Ayers.   In his book The Promise of the New South:  Life after Reconstruction he states the New South era began in the 1880s after the biracial and reformist experiment of Reconstruction had ended and the conservative white Democrats had taken power throughout the southern states.
A fellow Georgian, Henry W. Grady, is credited with the term “New South” which represents an ideology that emphasized a new reliance upon railroads and industrialization to modernize the South. 
Many Southerners jumped on Grady’s bandwagon and became New South boosters.  New South advocates espoused a renewal of the Southern economy, a bridge to reconcile differences with the North, racial harmony and a support of hard work.  
The first area of focus for New South boosters were the existing railroads that had been damaged or neglected during the Civil War.  They also wanted to extend new lines to criss-cross the South making important trade connections with cities and towns all across the country. 
Ayers states between 1865 and the 1870s there were nearly 8,000 miles of track in the South.   By 1880, the number of miles jumped to 20,000 and by the end of the decade the South boasted 40,000 miles of track carrying not only passengers but manufactured goods as well. 
Henry W. Grady and other New South boosters worked tirelessly to engage investors from the South as well as the North.   I’ve always felt it was important to make sure students understand the United States’ habit of rebuilding former enemy territory didn’t just begin after World War I or II – most of the money and resources used to revitalize the South following the Civil War came from northern investments.
Other than the railroads, New South boosters also focused on establishing cotton mills not only in the larger cities such as Atlanta or New Orleans but in smaller towns all across the South.
Cotton mills became a symbol of economic health, and every little town wanted one.  When outside investors were slow to respond townspeople would scrimp and save to get a mill going.   According to Ayers though, by 1870, the bulk of investment dollars came from northern and foreign investors.

Ayers further states in 1880 there were 160 cotton mills in the South.  By 1890, there were 400.

In his book Creating the Modern South:  Millhands and Managers in Dalton, Georgia, Douglas Flamming advises the rise of southern railroad towns and the farmers’ shift to cash crop agriculture were mutually reinforcing trends that fostered a spirit of entrepreneurial boosterism among local businessmen and professionals.
Don Harrison Doyle author of Toward a New South Urbanization and Southern Culture Economic Elites in Four New South Cities agrees with Flamming stating most boosters worked in the most vigorous sections of the local economy such as trade and rail transportation and included doctors, lawyers, planters, and even clergymen.

This website states since New England already had a firmly established textile industry, southern businessmen benefitted from the most-up-to-date technologies and equipment from the start of their endeavors without wasting investments on outdated methods.   These technological advancements meant that workers unschooled in the craft tradition could be recruited to perform jobs such as making cloth.
New South advocates espoused a renewal of the Southern economy, a bridge to reconcile differences with the North, racial harmony and a support of hard work to achieve the goals. Unfortunately, racial harmony proved to be the most difficult goal to achieve, and I assert here that even today it has not been achieved in many circles, but the New South Era did see tremendous positive changes regarding the Southern economy.

Looking back on the political and social events leading up to the Civil War and Reconstruction I still wonder why it had to take a war and terrible devastation to help people to understand there had to be a better way to grow the Southern economy
New South ideology has been my focus over the last two weeks regarding a column I write for a local website.

You can view my previous two columns focusing on the growth of the railroad in my little town during the New South Era here and here
Other articles focusing on mill towns can be found here and here.


Thursday, July 07, 2011

Identifying Andrew Jackson's Property

Over the Fourth of July holiday I was fortunate enough to make a stop at Andrew Jackson’s home, Hermitage, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Unfortunately, President Jackson was out, but he had left behind all sorts of interesting things for me to look at.
I thought I’d post them for a quick little game.  Don’t worry though…the answers are right here.
Go on and take a look and then at the bottom of the post you will find my link to more pictures from Jackson’s lovely home.

Okay…what’s this?

It looks like carved ivory, doesn’t it?   It carried something both men and women used during Jackson’s time.     Yes, this little crab-shaped item has a little box in it that carried snuff.   You could slip it in your pocket.   I can just imagine the conversations it would start when Jackson brought it out during a meeting.
Okay….what about this????     Forgive my fat fingers and the not-too-focused image.   I never promised you that I was an expert at photography.

I had no idea what this was.  I just admired the lovely green color.   
It’s a cup plate.
Now don’t confuse this with a saucer….they are two totally different things. 
Cup plates were used in the 18th and early 19th centuries.   In those days tea was served in cups without handles.   You would pour your tea into your saucer (yes, you are reading this right) and drink FROM YOUR SAUCER!  

….and I just thought my  Papa Blanton was a country bumpkin when he did it years and years ago at our breakfast table. 
Anyway, while you were drinking from your saucer you had to rest your cup somewhere and that’s what the cup plate was for.   It was used to protect the table from the tea.

Last, but not least do you know what this is? 

Who said a pocket knife?    Nope….that’s not what it is, but good guess.
It’s a lancet.

LANCET.     They were used to open the veins during a blood-letting.    See further explanation here.
You can find more of my pictures (one or two were made by Mr. EHT) over at American Presidents Blog here.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Great Britain's Write-Up Slip: The Declaration of Independence.

One of the important lessons I teach each year is the Declaration of Independence. Over the years I’d bring up our nation’s important documents in adult conversations when people would ask what grade I taught. Sometimes it was very obvious from what was said that the adults I was conversing with didn’t have a clue regarding the difference between documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It’s was also very obvious those same adults had never actually read either document.

It’s very simple. The Declaration declares our independence from Great Britain while the U.S. Constitution serves as our plan of government – the rules regarding how our Federal government works.
It’s simple, right?

Try explaining it to nine and ten year olds when some of them still believe Pocahontas had little animal friends who talked and she frolicked in the forest breaking out into song when the notion hit her as Disney portrays.
Finally, I hit on an analogy students could grasp – the write-up slip. When they violated classroom and school rules I wrote them up. In order to properly fill the form out I have to identify each and every broken rule. 

I have to make a record of the poor choices in order to institute correction.
The Declaration of Independence served as a write-up slip for Great Britain.  

Since the Fourth of July is almost here I thought it appropriate to post the full text of the document we are celebrating here.   
Reading it from the perspective of a write-up slip might make it a little bit easier to grasp its full meaning.

The Declaration of Independence states:
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

Happy Fourth of July!!!!