Saturday, July 23, 2022

The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction (1992)

This was a Christmas gift from my wife in 1996.  (What sort of gifts did you think family and friends would give me?)

I started it many years ago and my MA thesis and several books got in the way.  I am reading it now and finding it fascinating.  Edward Ayers has done a fascinating synthesis of official records, memoirs, newspapers and magazines to paint a profoundly complex picture of the South.  Many of the stereotypes of the South in that period seem to be true and many others are somewhat surprising.   This one about Southern timber industry is a reminder that discrimination is often a victim of a competitive industry.


  1. Some of the big companies that came to the south weren't very benevolent, and could get away with it since there was a chronic labor surplus. I remember reading about one town where the big mill did a lot for racial equality in town because "they treated everyone like a n****r".

    1. That was a bit later. During this period, boom and bust cycles had a similar impact on labor supply.

    2. One of the interesting aspects of the early cloth mills is that many had substantial local capitalization and management unlike other industries.