The New South
Holland Thompson

Part 1 out of 3

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The South of today is not the South of 1860 or even of 1865. There is a
New South, though not perhaps in the sense usually understood, for no
expression has been more often misused in superficial discussion. Men
have written as if the phrase indicated a new land and a new
civilization, utterly unlike anything that had existed before and
involving a sharp break with the history and the traditions of the past.
Nothing could be more untrue. Peoples do not in one generation or in two
rid themselves entirely of characteristics which have been developing
for centuries.

There is a New South, but it is a logical development from the Old
South. The civilization of the South today has not been imposed from
without but has been an evolution from within, though influenced by the
policy of the National Government. The Civil War changed the whole
organization of Southern society, it is true, but it did not modify its
essential attributes, to quote the ablest of the carpetbaggers, Albion
W. Tourgee. Reconstruction strengthened existing prejudices and created
new bitterness, but the attempt failed to make of South Carolina another
Massachusetts. The people resisted stubbornly, desperately, and in the
end successfully, every attempt to impose upon them alien institutions.

The story of Reconstruction has been told elsewhere.[1] A combination of
two ideas--high-minded altruism and a vindictive desire to humiliate a
proud people for partisan advantage--wrought mischief which has not been
repaired in nearly half a century. It is to be doubted, however, whether
Reconstruction actually changed in any essential point the beliefs of
the South. Left to itself, the South would not, after the War, have
given the vote to the negro. When left to itself still later, it took
the ballot away. The South would not normally have accepted the negro as
a social equal. The attempt to force the barrier between the races by
legislation with the aid of bayonets failed. Without the taste of power
during the Reconstruction period, the black South would not have
demanded so much and the determination of the white South to dominate
would not perhaps have been expressed so bitterly; but in any case the
white South would have dominated.

[Footnote 1: See _The Sequel of Appomattox_, by Walter Lynwood Fleming
(in _The Chronicles of America_).]

Economic and industrial development was hindered by Reconstruction. Men
of vision had seen before the War that the South must become more nearly
self-sufficient; and the results of the conflict had emphasized this
idea. The South believed, and believes yet, that it was defeated by the
blockade and not by military force. According to this theory, the North
won because the South could not manufacture goods for its needs, because
it did not possess ships to bring in goods from abroad, and because it
could not build a navy to defend its ports. Today it is clear that the
South never had a chance to win, so long as the will to conquer was firm
in the North. As soon as the War was over, the demand for greater
industrial development made itself felt and gained in strength when
Reconstruction came; but during that period the people had to devote all
their energies to living day by day, hoping for strength to endure.
When property was being confiscated under the forms of law, only to be
squandered by irresponsible legislators, there was little incentive to
remake the industrial system, and the ventures of the Reconstruction
government into industrial affairs were not encouraging. Farm property
in the South--and little was left except farm property after the
War--depreciated in value enormously in the decade following 1860.
Grimly, sullenly, the white man of the South fought again to secure
domination, this time, however, of his own section only and not of the
nation. When this had been achieved, a large portion of the population
was overcome by that deadly apathy so often remarked by travelers who
ventured to visit the land as they would have visited Africa. The white
South wished only to be let alone.

During this apathetic period there was some talk of the natural
resources of the South; but there was little attempt on the part of
Southerners to utilize these resources. There was talk of interesting
foreign capital, but little effective work was done to secure such
capital. Many men feared the new problems which such development might
bring in its train, while others, more numerous, were merely
indifferent or lukewarm. Many of those who vaguely wished for a change
did not know how to set about realizing their desires. The few men who
really worked to stimulate a quicker economic life about 1880 had a
thankless and apparently a hopeless task.

Yet one must be careful not to write of the South as if it were a single
country, inhabited by a homogeneous people. Historians and publicists
have spoken, and continue to speak, of "Southern opinion" and of the
"Southern attitude" as if these could be definitely weighed and
measured. No one who really knows the whole South could be guilty of
such a mistake. The first difficulty is to determine the limits of the
South. The census classification of States is open to objection.
Delaware, Maryland, and West Virginia are included in the South, and so
is Kentucky. Missouri is excluded, but a place is made for the new State
of Oklahoma. As to Delaware and Maryland, there may be a difference of
opinion, though it is difficult to justify the inclusion of the former.
West Virginia is certainly not Southern, socially, politically, or
economically. Kentucky is doubtful, and it is difficult to see why
Missouri should be excluded from any list which includes Kentucky.
Oklahoma is difficult to classify. But, at any rate the South is a
large country, with a great variety of soil, climate, and population. As
the crow flies, the distance from Richmond to Memphis, in an adjoining
State, is greater than from Richmond to Bangor, Maine. From Richmond to
Galveston is farther than from Richmond to Omaha or Duluth. Atlanta is
usually considered to be far down in the South, and yet the distance
from Atlanta to Boston or Minneapolis is less than to El Paso. Again,
New Orleans is nearer to Cincinnati than to Raleigh.

There were, moreover, many racial strains in the South. The Scotch-Irish
of the Piedmont in the Carolinas had, and have yet, little in common
with the French of Louisiana. The lowlander of South Carolina and the
hill men of Arkansas differed in more than economic condition. Even in
the same State, different sections were not in entire accord. In
Virginia and the Carolinas, for example, economic conditions and
traditions--and traditions are yet a power in the South--differed
greatly in different sections.

As the years passed, apathy began to disappear in some parts of the
South. Wiser men recognized that the old had gone never to return. Men
began to face the inevitable. Instead of brooding upon their
grievances, they adjusted themselves, more or less successfully, to the
new economic and social order, and by acting in harmony with it found
that progress was not so impossible as they had supposed. White planters
found that the net returns from their farms on which they themselves had
labored were greater than when a larger force of negroes had been
employed; shrewd men began to put their scanty savings together to take
advantage of convenient water power. Securing the bare necessities of
life was no longer a difficult problem for every one. Men began to find
pleasure in activity rather than in mere passivity or obstruction.

Somehow, somewhere, sometime, a new hopefulness was born and this new
spirit--evidence of new life--became embodied in "the New South." The
expression is said to have been used first by General Adam Badeau when
stationed in South Carolina, but the New South of which he spoke was not
the New South as it is understood today. Many others have used the term
loosely to signify any change in economic or social conditions which
they had discovered. The first man to use the expression in a way which
sent it vibrating through the whole nation was Henry W. Grady, the
gifted editor of the _Atlanta Constitution_. In a speech made in 1886
by invitation of the New England Society of New York City, he took for
his theme "the New South" and delivered an oration which, judged by its
effects, had some of the marks of greatness. "The South," he said, "has
nothing for which to apologize. She believes that the late struggle
between the States was war and not rebellion, revolution and not
conspiracy." He went on, however, to express the feeling that the
outcome had been for the best, and painted a picture of the new spirit
of the South, a trifle enthusiastic perhaps, but still recognizable.

Today a New South may be said to be everywhere apparent. The Old South
still exists in nooks and corners of many States, it is true: there are
communities, counties, groups of counties, which cling to the old ideas.
In the hearts of thousands of men and women the Old South is enshrined,
and there is no room for the new; but the South as a whole is a New
South, marked by a spirit of hopefulness, a belief in the future, and a
desire to take a fuller part in the life of the nation. To trace the
development of the new spirit and to discuss its manifestations is the
purpose of this book.



As the year 1877 was beginning, the carpetbag governments in nine of the
Southern States had been already overthrown. In two other States were
two sets of officers, one of which represented the great mass of the
whites while the other was based upon negro suffrage and was supported
by Federal bayonets. Both sides seemed determined, and trouble was
expected. The Republican contestants in Florida had already yielded to a
decision of the Supreme Court of the State, but in South Carolina and
Louisiana the Republican claimants held on until the orders to withdraw
the troops were given in April, 1877. The withdrawal of the troops
marked the definite end of Reconstruction. The Democratic claimants then
took undisputed possession of the executive and legislative departments
of these States. The native whites were again in entire charge of all
the States which had seceded. They now had the task of rebuilding the
commonwealths shattered by war and by the aftermath of war. A new era
for the South had dawned, and here properly begins the history of the
New South.

The first and most important problem, as the white South saw it, was the
maintenance of white supremacy which had been gained with so much
difficulty. In only three States--South Carolina, Mississippi, and
Louisiana--were there negro majorities. Obviously, if the whites could
be induced or coerced to stand together, they could continue to control
the governments in eight of the seceding States. The negro population,
however, was not distributed uniformly over any of these States, so
that, no matter how great the white preponderance in the State as a
whole, there were counties or other civil divisions where negroes were
in the majority. This meant that the issue of white supremacy was
present in every State, for the negro majorities in such counties could
elect the local officers and control the local governments.

To attain a political consolidation of the white population all other
issues must be subordinated. Differences of opinion and judgment must be
held in abeyance. No question upon which white men might seriously
disagree must be placed in the party platform, if any way to avoid such
insertion could be found. If by any chance the majority adopted a course
obnoxious to the minority, the decision must be accepted loyally if not
cheerfully, and the full white vote must be cast. Objection to a
candidate or measure must not be expressed at the ballot box. Personal
ambition must be restrained, and weakness and even unfitness in a
candidate must be overlooked for the sake of white solidarity.

The task of creating a permanently solid South was not easy. The
Southerner had always been an individualist, freely exercising his right
to vote independently, engaging in sharp political contests before 1861,
and even during the War. The Confederate Congress wrangled impotently
while Grant was thundering at the gates of Richmond. So strong was the
memory of past differences, that old party designations were avoided.
The political organization to which allegiance was demanded was
generally called the Conservative party, and the Republican party was
universally called the Radical party. The term Conservative was adopted
partly as a contrast, partly because the peace party had been so called
during the War, and especially because the name Democrat was obnoxious
to so many old Whigs. It was not until 1906 that the term Conservative
was officially dropped from the title of the dominant party in Alabama.

It is not surprising that men continued to turn for leadership to those
who had led in battle and, to a less extent, to those who had taken part
in the civil government of the Confederacy. But for the humiliations of
Reconstruction, some of these men might have been discredited, but the
bitter experiences of those years had restored them to popular favor. As
the Federal soldier marched out of the public buildings everywhere, the
Confederate soldier marched in. These men had led in the contest against
the scalawags and the carpetbaggers and many had suffered thereby. Now
they came into their own. In some States the organization of voters was
almost military.

During the first years after the downfall of the Reconstruction
governments the task of consolidating the white South was measurably
achieved. As some one flippantly put the case, there came to be in many
sections "two kinds of people--Democrats and negroes." It was the
general feeling on the part of the whites that to fail to vote was
shameful, to scratch a ticket was a crime, and to attempt to organize
the negroes was treason to one's race. The "Confederate brigadier"
sounded the rallying cry at every election, and a military record came
to be almost a requisite for political preferment. Men's eyes were
turned to the past, and on every stump were recounted again and again
the horrors of Reconstruction and the valiant deeds of the Confederate
soldiers. What a candidate had done in the past in another field seemed
more important even than his actual qualifications for the office to
which he aspired. A study of the _Congressional Record_ or of lists of
state officers proves the truth of this statement. In 1882, fourteen of
the twenty-two United States Senators from the seceding States had
military records and three had been civil officers of the Confederacy.
Several States had solid delegations of ex-Confederate soldiers in both
houses. When one reads the proceedings of Congress, he finds the names
of Vance and Ransom, Hampton and Butler, Gordon and Wheeler, Harris and
Bate, Cockrell and Vest, Walthall and Colquitt, Morgan and Gibson, and
dozens of other Confederate officers.

The process of unifying the white South was not universally successful,
however. Here and there were Republican islands in a Democratic or
Conservative sea. The largest and most important exception was the
Appalachian South, divided among eight different States. It is a large
region, to this day thinly populated and lacking in means of
communication with the outside world. Though it has some bustling
cities, thriving towns, and prosperous communities, the Appalachian
South today is predominantly rural. In the 216 counties in this region
or its foothills, there were in 1910 only 43 towns with more than 2500

This Appalachian region had been settled by emigrants from the lowlands.
Some of them were of the thriftless sort who were forced from the better
lands in the East by the inexorable working of economic law. By far the
greater part, however, were of the same stock as the restless pioneers
who poured over the mountains to flood the Mississippi Valley. Students
of the mountain people maintain that so small an accident as the
breaking of a linchpin fixed one family forever in a mountain cove,
while relatives went on to become the builders of new States in the
interior. Cut off from the world in these mountains, there have been
preserved to this day many of the idioms, folksongs, superstitions,
manners, customs, and habits of mind of Stuart England, as they were
brought over by the early colonists. The steep farms afforded a scanty
living, and though the cattle found luscious pasturage during the
summer, they were half starved during the winter. If by chance the
mountaineers had a surplus of any product, there was no one to whom they
might sell it. They lived almost without the convenience of coinage as a
means of exchange. Naturally in such a society there was no place for
slaves, and to this day negroes are not welcome in many mountain
counties. But though these mountain people have missed contact with the
outside world and have been deprived of the stimulus of new ideas, they
seldom give evidence of anything that can fairly be classed as
degeneracy. Ignorance, illiteracy, and suspended or arrested development
the traveler of today will find among them, and actions which will shock
his present-day standards; but these same actions would hardly have
shocked his own father's great-grandfather. These isolated mountaineers
have been aptly called "our contemporary ancestors."

The same people, it is true, had poured out of their cabins to meet
Ferguson at King's Mountain; they had followed Jackson to New Orleans
and to Florida and they had felt the influence of the wave of
nationalism which swept the country after the War of 1812. But back to
their mountains they had gone, and the great current of national
progress swept by them. The movement toward sectionalism, which
developed after the Missouri Compromise, had left them cold. So the
mountaineers held to the Union. They did not volunteer freely for the
Confederacy, and they resisted conscription. How many were enlisted in
the Union armies it is difficult to discover, certainly over 100,000. It
is not surprising, therefore, that these people became Republicans and
have so continued in their allegiance.

Another element in the population having great influence in the
South--in North Carolina, at least--was the Society of Friends. It was
strong in both the central and the eastern sections. Many, but by no
means all, of the Quakers opposed the Civil War and, after peace came,
opposed the men who had been prominent in the War, that is, the dominant
party. In spite of the social stigma attaching to Republicanism, many of
the Quakers have persisted in their membership in that party to the
present day. In all the seceding States there was a Union element in
1861, and, while most of the men composing it finally went into the War
with zeal, there were individuals who resisted stoutly During the War
they were abused without stint, but this criticism had only the effect
of making them more stubborn. They naturally became Republicans after
the War and furnished some of the votes which made Reconstruction
possible. With these may be classed the few Northern men who remained in
the South after the downfall of the Reconstruction governments.

There was another class of people in the South, some of whom had been
rabid secessionists and whose Republicanism had no other foundation than
a desire for the loaves and fishes. The salaries attached to some of the
Federal offices seemed enormous at that time and, before the prohibition
wave swept the South, there were in the revenue service thousands of
minor appointments for the faithful. These deputy marshals,
"storekeepers and gaugers," and petty postmasters attempted to keep up a
local organization. The collectors of internal revenue, United States
marshals, other officers of the Federal courts, and the postmasters in
the larger towns controlled these men and therefore the state
organizations. These Federal officials broke the unanimity of the white
South, and they were supported by thousands of negroes. Some individuals
among them were shrewd politicians, but the contest was unequal from
the beginning. On one side was intelligence, backed by loyal followers
fiercely determined to rule. On the other was a leadership on the whole
less intelligent, certainly more selfish, with followers who were
ignorant and susceptible to cajolery or intimidation.

Before the downfall of the Reconstruction governments, and in the first
few years afterward, there was much intimidation of negroes who wished
to vote. Threats of loss of employment, eviction from house or
plantation, or refusal of credit were frequent. In many sections such
measures were enough, and Democrats were ordinarily chosen at the polls.
Where the negroes were in a larger majority, stronger measures were
adopted. Around election time armed bands of whites would sometimes
patrol the roads wearing some special badge or garment. Men would gallop
past the houses of negroes at night, firing guns or pistols into the air
and occasionally into the roofs of the houses. Negroes talking politics
were occasionally visited and warned--sometimes with physical
violence--to keep silent. On election day determined men with rifles or
shotguns, ostensibly intending to go hunting after they had voted,
gathered around the polls. An occasional random shot might kick up the
dust near an approaching negro. Men actually or apparently the worse for
liquor might stagger around, seeking an excuse for a fight. It is not
surprising that among the negroes the impression that it was unwise to
attempt to vote gained ground.

Less crude but no less effective methods were employed later. As
candidates or party organizations furnished the ballots, the "tissue
ballot" came into use. Half a dozen of these might easily be dropped
into the box at one time. If the surplus ballots were withdrawn by a
blindfolded official, the difference in length or in the texture or
quality of the ballot made possible the withdrawal of an undue
proportion of Republican votes. Usually separate boxes were supplied for
different sets of officers, and it was often provided that a ballot in
the wrong box was void. An occasional intentional shifting of boxes thus
caused many illiterate negroes to throw away their votes. This scheme
reached its climax in the "eight box law" of South Carolina which made
illiterate voting ineffective without aid. Immediately after any
literate Republican, white or black, left the polling place the boxes
were shifted, and the illiterates whose tickets he had carefully
arranged deposited their ballots in the wrong boxes. White boys of
eighteen, if well grown, sometimes voted, while a young negro unable to
produce any evidence of his age had difficulty in proving the attainment
of his majority. In some precincts illiterate Republicans were appointed
officers of elections, and then the vote was juggled shamelessly. A
study of election returns of some counties of the black belt shows
occasional Democratic majorities greater than the total white
population. The same tricks which were so long practiced in New York and
Philadelphia were successful in the South.

Conditions such as these were not prevalent over the entire South. In a
large proportion of the voting precincts elections were as fair as
anywhere in the United States; but it may be safely said that in few
counties where the negroes approached or exceeded fifty per cent of the
total population were elections conducted with anything more than a
semblance of fairness. Yet in some sections the odds were too great, or
else the whites lacked the resolution to carry out such extensive
informal disfranchisement. For years North and South Carolina each sent
at least one negro member to the House of Representatives and, but for
flagrant gerrymandering, might have sent more. Indeed negro prosecuting
attorneys were not unknown, and many of the black counties had negro
officers. Some States, such as North Carolina, gave up local
self-government almost entirely. The Legislature appointed the justices
of the peace in every county, and these elected both the commissioners
who controlled the finances of the county and also the board of
education which appointed the school committeemen. Judges were elected
by the State as a whole and held courts in all the counties in turn. To
this day, a Superior Court judge sits only six months in one district
and then moves on to another. Other States gave up local government to a
greater or less extent, while still others sought to lessen the negro
vote by strict registration laws and by the imposition of poll taxes.

In many sections the negro ceased to make any attempt to vote, and the
Republican organization became a skeleton, if indeed it continued at
all. There was always the possibility of a revival, however, and after
1876 the North often threatened Federal control of elections. The
possibility of negro rule was therefore only suspended and not
destroyed; it might at any time be restored by force. The possibility of
the negro's holding the balance of power seemed dangerous and ultimately
led to attempts to disfranchise him by law, which will be considered in
another chapter.

The relation of the races was not the only question which confronted the
whites when they regained control of the state governments. The problem
of finance was equally fundamental. The increase in the total debt of
the seceding States had been enormous. The difference between the debts
of these States (excluding Texas) in 1860 and in the year in which they
became most involved was nearly $135,000,000.[1] In proportion to the
total wealth of these States, this debt was extremely high.

[Footnote 1: See W.A. Scott, _The Repudiation of State Debts_, p. 276.
Texas had practically no debt when it passed under Reconstruction
government, but added $4,500,000 in the period. The total increase in
the debt of all these Southern States was then nearly $140,000,000.]

Not all of this increase was due to carpetbag government. While, of
course, the debts incurred for military purposes had been repudiated in
accordance with the Fourteenth Amendment, several of the States had
issued bonds for other purposes during the War or immediately afterwards
before the advent of the Reconstruction governments. There were other
millions of unpaid interest on all varieties of debts incurred before or
after 1860. The Reconstruction debts had been incurred for various
purposes, but bonds issued ostensibly to aid in building railroads,
canals, or levees made up the greater part of the total. These bonds,
however, had been sold at a large discount, and only a small part of the
money realized was applied to actual construction.

Some of the States had escaped almost entirely any considerable increase
of debt; others were burdened far beyond their ability to pay,
especially as property valuations had declined nearly one-half.

The wholesale repudiation of their debts injured the credit of all the
Southern States, and they have been loudly denounced for their action.
Their spokesmen have justified their procedure in regard to the bonds
issued by the carpetbag legislatures on the ground that they were voted
by venal governments imposed by military force; that many of the bonds
were fraudulent on their face; and that those who purchased them at a
great discount were simply gambling upon the chance that the governments
issuing them would endure; that the greater part of these bonds were
stolen by the officers; and that little or no benefit came to the State.
Not all of the bonds which were repudiated or scaled down, however,
belonged to this class. Many were undoubtedly valid obligations on the
part of the States. The repudiation of these bonds was excused on the
ground that they were generally issued to aid railroads which had been
practically seized by the Confederate or the United States governments
and had been worn out for their benefit; that interest could not be paid
during the war; and that war and the Reconstruction Acts had so reduced
property values that payment of the full amount was impossible. The last
reason is true of some States, though not of all. The prompt payment of
interest on the reduced indebtedness has done much to restore the credit
of the South, and the bonds of some States now sell above par.

Extravagance had helped to overthrow the carpetbag regime. The new
governments were necessarily forced to be economical. Expenditures of
all kinds were lessened. Government was reduced to its lowest terms, and
the salaries of state officers were fixed at ridiculously small figures.
Inadequate school taxes were levied; the asylums for the insane, though
kept alive, could not take care of all who should have been admitted;
appropriations for higher education, if made at all, were small; there
was little or no social legislation. The politicians taught the people
that low taxes were the greatest possible good and, when prosperity
began to return and a heavier burden of taxation might easily have been
borne, the belief that the efficiency of a government was measured by
its parsimony had become a fixed idea. There was little scandal
anywhere. No governments in American history have been conducted with
more economy and more fidelity than the governments of the Southern
States during the first years after the Reconstruction period. A few
treasurers defaulted, but in most cases their difficulties rose from
financial incompetence rather than from dishonesty, for a good soldier
did not necessarily make a good treasurer. Few fortunes were founded on
state contracts. The public buildings erected were honestly built and
were often completed within the limits of the original appropriations.
So small an amount was allowed that there would have been little to
steal, even had the inclination been present.

The decline in the prices of agricultural products after 1875 made
living harder. The Greenback agitation[1] found some followers, and in a
few scattered rural districts Greenbackers or Greenback Democrats were
nominated. In a few districts the white men ventured to run two tickets,
and in a few cases the Greenback candidate won. This activity was a
precursor of the agrarian revolt which later divided the South. There were
also some Republican tickets with qualifying words intended to catch votes,
but they had little success. Some strong men were sent to Congress, a very
large proportion of whom had seen service in the Confederate army. Their
presence aroused many sneers at "rebel brigadiers" and an immense amount
of "bloody shirt" oratory. They accomplished little for their section or
for the nation, as they were always on the defensive and could hardly
have been expected to have any consuming love for the Union, in which
they had been kept by force. They were frequently taunted in debate in
the hope that indiscreet answers would furnish campaign material for use
in the North. Sometimes they failed to control their tempers and their
tongues and played into the hands of their opponents. They advocated no
great reforms and showed little political vision. They clung to the
time-honored doctrines of the Democratic party--tariff for revenue only,
opposition to sumptuary laws, economy in expenditures, and abolition of
the internal revenue taxes--and they made ponderous speeches upon the
Constitution, "viewing with alarm" the encroachments of the Federal
Government upon the sphere of action marked out for the States.

[Footnote 1: See _The Agrarian Crusade_, by Solon J. Buck (in _The
Chronicles of America_).]

Partly because of constitutional objections, partly because of fear of
Federal supervision of the administration of the measure, a majority of
the Southern representatives opposed the Blair Bill, which might have
hastened the progress of their section. This measure, now almost
forgotten, was much discussed between 1882 and 1890 when it was finally
shelved. It provided for national aid to education out of the surplus
revenues of the Federal Government, the distribution to be made in
proportion to illiteracy. Though the South would have received a large
share of this money, which it sorely needed for education, the
experience of the South with Federal supervision had not been pleasant,
and many feared that the measure might result in another Freedmen's
Bureau.[1] Not all Southerners, however, were opposed to the project.
Dr. J.L.M. Curry, agent of the Peabody Fund, did valiant service for the
bill, and some members of Congress were strong advocates of the measure.
Today we see a measure for national aid to education fathered by
Southerners and almost unanimously supported by their colleagues.

[Footnote 1: See _The Sequel of Appomattox_, by Walter Lynwood Fleming
(in _The Chronicles of America_).]

Though rotation in office was the rule in the representation in the
House, the policy of reelecting Senators was generally followed, and
some of them served long periods. Looking upon themselves as ambassadors
of their States to an unfriendly court, they were always dignified and
often austere. As time went on, their honesty, old-fashioned courtesy,
and amiable social qualities gained for many the respect and
affectionate esteem of their Northern colleagues. Many strong
friendships sprang up, and through these personal relationships
occasional bits of patronage and items of legislation were granted.
Often, it is said, politicians who were accustomed to assail one another
in public sought each other's society and were the best of friends in
private. These Southern men were almost invariably a frugal lot who
lived from necessity within their salaries and used no questionable
means of increasing their incomes.

The election of Cleveland in 1884 gave to the South its first real
participation in national affairs for a quarter of a century. Thomas F.
Bayard of Delaware, L.Q.C. Lamar of Mississippi, and A.H. Garland of
Arkansas were chosen for the Cabinet, from which the scholarly Lamar was
transferred to the Supreme Court. John G. Carlisle of Kentucky was Speaker,
and Roger Q. Mills of Texas became Chairman of the Ways and Means
Committee of the House to succeed William R. Morrison. A fair share, if not
more, of the more important diplomatic, consular, and administrative
appointments went to Southerners. The South began to feel that it was again
a part of the Union. However, though Cleveland had shown his friendliness
to their section, the Southern politicians, usually intensely partisan,
could not appreciate the President's attitude toward the civil service and
other questions, and his bluntness offended many of them. They followed him
on the tariff but opposed him on most other questions, for his theory of
Democracy and theirs diverged, and his kindly attitude was later repaid
with ingratitude.

During the period in which the "rebel brigadiers" had controlled their
States a new generation had arisen which began to make itself felt
between 1885 and 1890. The Grange had tried to teach the farmers to
think of themselves as a class, and the skilled workmen in a few
occupations, in the border States particularly, had been organized. The
Greenback craze had created a distrust of the capitalists of the East.
The fear of negro domination was no longer so overmastering, and the
natural ambition of the younger men began to show itself in factional
contests. Younger men were coveting the places held by the old
war-horses and were beginning to talk of cliques and rings. The Farmers'
Alliance was spreading like wildfire, and its members were expounding
doctrines which seemed rank treason to the elderly gentlemen whose
influence had once been so potent. It is now clear that their fall from
power was inevitable, though they refused to believe it possible.



Practically all the farmers in the South, like those of the West, were
chronically in debt, and after 1870 the general tendency of the prices
of agricultural products was downward. In spite of largely increased
acreage--partly, to be sure, because of it--the total returns from the
larger crops were hardly so great as had been received from a much
smaller cultivated area. The Southern farmer began to feel helpless and
hopeless. Though usually suspicious of every movement coming from the
North, he turned readily to the organization of the Patrons of
Husbandry, better known as the Grange. In fact, the hopeless apathy of
the Southern farmer observed by Oliver Hudson Kelley, an agent of the
Bureau of Agriculture, is said to have determined him to found the
order. In spite of the turmoil of Reconstruction, the organization
appeared in South Carolina and Mississippi in 1871. Tennessee.
Missouri, and Kentucky had already been invaded. During 1872 and 1873,
the order spread rapidly in all the States which may be called Southern.
The highest number reached was in the latter part of 1875 when more than
6400 local granges were reported in the States which had seceded; and in
Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and Missouri there were
nearly 4000 more. The total membership in the seceding States was more
than 210,000 and including the border States, over 355,000. Since
negroes were not admitted, the proportion of the total white
agricultural population in the Grange was perhaps as high in the South
as in any other part of the Union. In the years that followed, the order
underwent the same disintegration in the South as elsewhere.

As a class the Southern Grangers did not take an active part in
politics. The overshadowing question of the position of their States in
the Union and the desire to preserve white supremacy prevented any great
independent movement. In a few instances, men ran for Congress as
Independents or as Greenbackers, and in some cases they were elected;
but the Southern farmers were not yet ready to break away from the
organization which had delivered them from negro rule. There was not at
that time in the South the same opposition to railroads that prevailed
in the West. The need of railroads was felt so keenly that the practice
of baiting them had not become popular. Some railroad legislation was
passed, largely through Granger influence, but it was not yet radical.
Nevertheless the Granger movement was by no means without permanent
influence. It helped to develop class consciousness; it demonstrated
that the Western and the Southern farmer had some interests in common;
and it also implanted in people's minds the idea that legislation of an
economic character was desirable. Heretofore the Southern farmer, so far
as he had thought at all about the relation of the State to industry,
had been a believer in _laissez faire_. Now he began to consider whether
legislation might not be the remedy for poverty. Out of this serious
attention to the needs of the farmer other organizations were to arise
and to build upon the foundations laid by the Grange.

About 1875 there appeared in Texas and other States local organizations
of farmers, known as Farmers' Alliances, and in 1879 a Grand State
Alliance was formed in Texas. The purposes were similar to those set
forth by the Grange. In Arkansas appeared the Agricultural Wheel and
the Brothers of Freedom, which were soon consolidated. The Farmers'
Union of Louisiana and the Alliance of Texas were also united under the
name of the National Farmers' Alliance and Cooeperative Union of America.
This was soon united with the Arkansas Wheel, which had crossed state

A session of the National Alliance was held at St. Louis in 1889 with
delegates present from every Southern State, except West Virginia, and
from some of the Middle Western States. The National Assembly of the
Knights of Labor was also held in St. Louis at this time, and a joint
declaration of beliefs was put forth. This platform called for the issue
of more paper money, abolition of national banks, free coinage of
silver, legislation to prevent trusts and corners, tariff reform,
government ownership of railroads, and restriction of public lands to
actual settlers.

The next year, the annual convention of the Alliance was held at Ocala,
Florida, and the Ocala platform was published. This meeting recommended
the so-called sub-treasury plan by which the Federal Government was to
construct warehouses for agricultural products. In these the farmer
might deposit his non-perishable agricultural products, and receive 80
per cent of their market value in greenbacks. Surely the Southern farmer
had shaken off much of his traditional conservatism in approving such a
demand as this! The explanation is not far to seek.

The high price of cotton in the years immediately following the War was
the economic salvation of the South. Whatever may have been the
difficulties in its production, the returns repaid the outlay and more.
The quantity was less than the world demanded. Not until 1870-71 did the
production approach that of the crops before the War. Then, with the
increase in production and general financial stringency came a sharp
decrease in price. Between 1880 and 1890 the price was not much above
the cost of production, and after 1890 the price fell still lower. When
middling cotton brought less than seven cents a pound in New York, the
small producer got little more than five cents for his bale or two. The
price of wheat and corn was correspondingly low, if the farmer had a
surplus to sell at harvest time. If he bought Western corn or flour in
the spring on credit, the price he paid included shrinkage, storage,
freight, and the exorbitant profit of the merchant. The low price
received by the Western producer had been much increased before the
cereals reached the Southern consumer. The Southern farmer was
consequently becoming desperate and was threatening revolt against the
established order.

While Southern delegates joined the Western Alliance in the organization
of the People's party in 1891 and 1892, the majority of the members in
the South chose an easier way of attaining their object: they entered
the Democratic primaries and conventions and captured them. In State
after State, men in sympathy with the farmers were chosen to office,
often over old leaders who had been supposed to have life tenure of
their positions. In some cases these leaders retained their offices, if
not their influence, by subscribing to the demands of the Alliance.
Perhaps some could do this without reservation; others, Senators
particularly, justified themselves on the theory that a legislature had
the right to speak for the State and instruct those chosen to represent

The feeling of the farmer that he was being oppressed threatened to
develop into an obsession. His hatred of "money-power," "trusts,"
"corners," and the "hirelings of Wall Street" found expression in his
opposition to the local lawyers and merchants, and, in fact, to the
residents of the towns in general. The idea began to grow up that any
one living in a town was necessarily an enemy to the farmer. The
prevalent agricultural point of view came to be that only the farmer was
a wealth producer, and that all others were parasites who sat in the
shade while he worked in the sun and who lived upon the products of his
labor. This bitterness the farmer extended to the old political leaders
whom he had regarded with veneration in the past. These old Confederate
soldiers, he believed, had allowed him to be robbed.

The state Democratic Convention of Georgia in 1890 pledged all
candidates for office to support the demands of the Farmers' Alliance,
including the sub-treasury "or some better system." Senator John B.
Gordon, however, refused to pledge himself and was reelected
nevertheless. The leader of the Alliance was nominated and elected
governor. In Alabama, Reuben F. Kolb, the Commissioner of Agriculture,
almost obtained the Democratic nomination for governor. Two years later,
he again entered the primary and, declaring that he had been cheated out
of the nomination, ran independently as the candidate of the
Jeffersonian Democracy. On the face of the returns, the regular
candidate was elected, but Kolb pointed out the fact that the
Democratic majorities came from the black counties, while the white
counties had given a majority for him. Again in 1894 Kolb entered the
race for governor and again declared that he had been counted out, as he
had not only the Jeffersonian Democracy behind him but also the
endorsement of the Republicans and the Populists.

Undoubtedly the controlling influence in Democratic councils in some of
the Southern States had been exercised by a very small element in the
population. A few men, almost a "Family Compact" either held the
important offices themselves, or decided who should hold them, and fixed
the party policy so far as it had a policy other than the maintenance of
white supremacy. The governments were generally honest, economical, and
cheap. The leaders, partly because they themselves believed in limiting
the function of government and partly because they believed that the
voters would oppose any extension, had prevented any constructive
legislation. Events showed that they had misunderstood their people.
When the revolt came, the farmer legislators showed themselves willing
to vote money liberally for education and for other purposes which were
once considered outside the sphere of government.

South Carolina furnished the most striking example of this revolt. In
that State the families which had governed before the War continued the
direction of affairs. By a rather unusual compromise, the large western
population of the State had been balanced against the greater wealth of
the east. Consequently there was overrepresentation of the east after
the negro had been deprived of the ballot. It was charged--and with some
show of truth--that a small group of men clustering around Charleston
exercised an entirely disproportionate share of influence in party
management. The farmers, with a growing class consciousness, began to
resent this injustice and found a leader ready and anxious to direct

In March, 1890, the delegates of the Farmers' Association decided to
secure the nomination for governor for Benjamin R. Tillman, who had
devoted much of his time for four years to arousing the farmers. The
contest for the nomination was begun in May and, after a bitter
struggle, Tillman won easily in the convention in September. The
"straight outs," dazed and humiliated, ran an independent candidate.
Tillman and his followers accepted the challenge and the conflict took
form as a struggle between mass and class. The farmers' leader, though
not himself illiterate, obscure, or poor, raged up and down the State
frankly and brutally preaching class war. He held up Charleston as a
sink of iniquity, and he promised legislation to cleanse it. Perhaps a
majority of the whites really believed his charges and put faith in his
doctrines. If not, the fetish of party regularity drew the votes
necessary to make up the deficiency. Tillman had been regularly
nominated in a Democratic convention, and South Carolinians had been
trained to vote the party ticket. He was elected by a large majority.

At the end of Tillman's first term two years later, he was again a
candidate, and the convention which nominated him approved the Ocala
platform. Since the party machinery was in control of the Tillmanites,
the opposition adopted the name "Cleveland Democracy" and sought to undo
the revolution. The result was never doubtful. Tillman was reelected by
an overwhelming majority, and on the expiration of his term was sent to
the United States Senate, which he shocked by his passionate utterances
as he had so often shocked his own State. The attitude of the educated
and cultivated part of the population of South Carolina toward Tillman
affords a parallel to that of Tory England toward Lloyd George twenty
years later. The parallel may be extended further. Tillman, in time,
modified some of his extreme opinions, won over many of his opponents,
and gained the respect of his colleagues just as Lloyd George has done;
and South Carolina grew to have pride in her sturdy fighter whose life
ended just as his fourth term in the Senate was almost done.

The election of Tillman as Governor and then as Senator was a real
revolution, for South Carolina had been long represented in the United
States Senate by Wade Hampton and Matthew C. Butler, both distinguished
soldiers and representatives of the old regime. Hampton, under whose
leadership the carpetbag government had been overthrown, had been a
popular idol. Both he and Butler had won the respect of their colleagues
in the Senate and had reflected credit upon their State. But such
services now availed nothing. Both they and others like them were swept
out, to be replaced by the partisans of the new order.

Nothing was omitted by the reformers to humiliate what had been the
ruling portion of the population. The liquor traffic was made a state
monopoly by the dispensary system modeled on the Gothenburg plan: no
liquor was sold to be drunk on the premises, and the amount allowed a
purchaser was limited. It was hoped the revenue thus received would
permit a considerable reduction in the tax rate. These hopes, however,
were not realized, and scandals concerning the purchasing agency kept
the State in a turmoil for years. Other legislation was more successful.
An agricultural and mechanical college for men was founded at the old
home of John C. Calhoun at Clemson. A normal and industrial college for
girls has also proved very successful. The appropriations to the state
university were reduced on the ground that it was an aristocratic
institution, but on the other hand funds for public schools were

Not all the members of the Alliance remained in the Democratic party.
Populist electors were nominated in every Southern State in 1892, except
in Louisiana, where a combined Republican and Populist ticket was named.
In no State did the new party secure a majority, but in Alabama,
Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, the Populist vote was
large. In North Carolina, always inclined to independence, the combined
Republican and Populist vote was larger than that cast for Democratic
electors. It was obvious that Democratic supremacy was imperiled, if
the new party continued its amazing growth.

The politicians, Republican and Democratic, set out to win the
insurgents. Some shrewd political manipulators, scenting future profit
for themselves, had joined the new movement and were willing to trade.
During 1893, 1894, and 1895 the Republicans were generally successful.
In many States there was more or less cooperation in state and county
tickets, in spite of the disfavor with which the Republican party had
been regarded in the South. In North Carolina J.C. Pritchard, a regular
Republican, was elected to the United States Senate, to fill the
unexpired term of Senator Vance, but the Populist state chairman, Marion
Butler, cool, calculating, and shrewd, took the full term to succeed
Senator Ransom. The Democratic party had maintained control for twenty
years, and it was held responsible for all the ills from which the
farmer suffered. Then, too, some of the leaders of the new party felt
that they would have greater opportunities for preferment by cooeperating
with a party in which the number of white voters was small.

The doctrine of free silver had been making converts among the
Democrats, however, and early in 1896 it was clear that a majority of the
Southern delegates to the national convention would favor a silver plank.
The action of the convention in nominating Bryan and Sewall is told in
another volume.[1] Bryan was also endorsed by the Populist convention, but
that convention refused to endorse Sewall and nominated Thomas E. Watson
for Vice-President. A majority of the Populist convention favored a strict
party fight, but the managers were shrewd, and the occasion manifestly
offered great opportunities for trading. In twenty-six States the electoral
tickets were divided between Democrats and Populists. Among these States
were Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and North Carolina. But cooeperation
with Republicans on local legislative and state tickets often occurred. In
North Carolina, a fusion legislature was elected, and a Republican was
chosen governor by the aid of Populist votes, though one faction of the
Populists nominated a separate ticket. The judicial and congressional
nominations were divided. The apparent inconsistency of voting for Bryan
for President and at the same time supporting Republicans who might be
expected to oppose him in Congress was accepted without flinching.
According to the bargain made two years before, when a Republican was
sent to the United States Senate for an unexpired term by the aid of the
Populist votes, Senator Pritchard was reelected.

[Footnote 1: _The Agrarian Crusade,_ by Solon J. Buck (in _The
Chronicles of America_).]

The experience of North Carolina with fusion government was a reminder
of the Reconstruction days. The Republicans had dilated upon "local
self-government" and the Populists had swallowed the bait. The
Legislature changed the form of county government, by which the board of
county commissioners had been named by the justices of the peace, and
made the board elective. This turned over to the blacks counties in
which several of the largest towns in the State were situated. Negro
politicians were chosen to office, and lawlessness and violence
followed. In Wilmington there was an uprising of the whites, who took
possession of the city government by force. The Legislature was again
Democratic in 1898 and began to prepare an amendment which should
disfranchise a large proportion of the 125,000 negro voters of the
State. There was cooeperation between the Republican and Populist
organizations again in 1900, but too many Populists had returned to
their former allegiance. The restrictive amendment, of which more will
be aid presently, was carried by an overwhelming majority at the special
election in the summer, and at the regular election in November the
Democratic ticket was chosen by an overwhelming majority.

The fusion of 1896 and the rising prices of agricultural products killed
the Populist party in the South, but the influence of the movement
remains to this day. It has had some effect in lessening political
intolerance, for those of the Populists who returned to the Democratic
party came back without apology, while others have since classed
themselves as Republicans. The Populist attitude toward public education
was on the whole friendly, and more money has since been demanded and
expended for public schools.

Perhaps the greatest effect of the Populist movement was the overthrow
of the old political organizations. In some States a few men had ruled
almost by common consent. They had exerted a great influence upon
legislation--not by use of the vulgar arts of the lobbyists, but by the
plea of party advantage or by the prophecy of party loss. They had given
their States clean government and cheap government, but nothing more. A
morbid fear of taxation, or rather of the effects of taxation upon the
people, was their greatest sin. The agrarian movement took them unawares.
They were unable to realize that between the South of 1890 and another,
older South, there was a great gap. They could not interpret the
half-coherent speech of the small farmer, who had come to feel that he had
been wronged and struck out blindly at those whom he had previously
trusted. New and unknown men appeared in Washington to take the place of
men whose character, ability, and length of service had made them
national figures. The governorship of the States went to men whose chief
qualifications seemed to be prominence in the affairs of the Alliance or
else bitter tongues.

Though the Populists, for the most part, returned to the Democratic
party, and the suffrage amendments, which will be mentioned presently,
made the possibility of Republican success extremely remote, the "old
guard" has never regained its former position. In all the Southern
States party control has been for years in the hands of the common man.
The men he chooses to office are those who understand his psychology and
can speak his language. Real primary elections were common in the South
years before they were introduced elsewhere, and the man who is the
choice of the majority in the Democratic primary wins.

Some of the men chosen to high office in the State and nation are men of
ability and high character, who recall the best traditions of Southern
statesmanship; others are parochial and mediocre; and some are blatant
demagogues who bring discredit upon their State and their section and
who cannot be restrained from "talking for Buncombe."

The election of a Democratic President in 1884 had stirred the
smoldering distrust of the South on the part of the North. The
well-known fact that the negro vote in the South did not have the
influence its numbers warranted aroused the North to demand a Federal
elections law, which was voiced by bills introduced by Senator Hoar of
Massachusetts and by Henry Cabot Lodge, then a member of the House of
Representatives. Lodge's bill, which was passed by the House in 1890,
permitted Federal officials to supervise and control congressional
elections. This so-called "Force Bill" was bitterly opposed by the
Southerners and was finally defeated in the Senate by the aid of the
votes of the silver Senators from the West, but the escape was so narrow
that it set Southerners to finding another way of suppressing the negro
vote than by force or fraud. Later the division of the white vote by the
Populist party also endangered white supremacy in the South.

In this same year (1890) Mississippi framed a new constitution, which
required as a prerequisite for voting a residence of two years in the
State and one year in the district or town. A poll tax of two
dollars--to be increased to three at the discretion of the county
commissioners--was levied on all able-bodied men between twenty-one and
sixty. This tax, and all other taxes due for the two previous years,
must be paid before the 1st of February of the election year. All these
provisions, though applying equally to all the population, greatly
lessened the negro vote. Negroes are notoriously migratory, and a large
proportion never remain two years in the same place. The poll tax could
not be collected by legal process, and to pay the tax for two years,
four dollars or more, eight months in advance of an election, seemed to
the average negro to be rank extravagance. Moreover, few politicians are
reckless enough to arrange for the payment of poll taxes in exchange for
the promised delivery of votes eight months away, when half the would-be
voters might be in another county, or even in another State. To clinch
the matter, the constitution further provided that after 1892, in
addition to the qualifications mentioned above, a person desiring to
vote must be able to read any section of the constitution, "or he shall be
able to understand the same when read to him, or give a reasonable
interpretation thereof." Even when fairly administered, this section
operated to disfranchise more negroes than whites, for fewer can read and
fewer can understand a legal instrument. But it is obvious that the
opportunities for discrimination are great: a simple section can be read to
an illiterate white, while a more difficult section, filled with
technicalities, may be read to a negro applicant; and the phrase "a
reasonable interpretation" may mean one thing in the case of a negro and
quite another where a white man is concerned. It is perhaps not
surprising that only 5123 Republican votes were reported in 1896, and
hardly more, in 1912, were cast for Taft and Roosevelt together.

South Carolina followed the lead of Mississippi a little more frankly in
1895, by adopting suffrage amendments which provided for two years'
residence in the State, one year in the county, and the payment of a
poll tax six months before the election. Up to 1898 any person who could
read any section of the constitution, or could understand and explain it
when read by the registration officer, could have his name placed upon a
permanent roll and could vote thereafter, provided he satisfied the
other requirements already mentioned. After January 1, 1898, every one
presenting himself for registration had to be able to read and write any
section of the constitution, or else must have paid taxes the preceding
year on property assessed at three hundred dollars or over. The list of
disqualifying crimes is long, including those of which negroes are most
commonly found guilty, such as larceny, false pretence, bigamy, adultery,
wife-beating, and receiving stolen goods. To insure the complexion of the
permanent roll, the registration was conducted in each county by a board of
"three discreet persons" appointed by the Governor, by and with the advice
and consent of the Senate.

It would seem that either of these constitutions would serve to reduce
the negro vote sufficiently, while allowing practically all white men to
vote. Large discretion, however, is lodged in the officers of election,
and Democratic control in these matters is safe only so long as the
white men stick together. Louisiana went a step further in 1898 and
introduced the famous "grandfather clause" into her constitution. Other
requirements were similar to those already mentioned. Two years'
residence in the State, one year in the parish, and six months in the
precinct were preliminary conditions; in addition the applicant must be
able to read and write in English or his mother tongue, or he must be the
owner of property assessed for three hundred dollars or more.

This general requirement of literacy or ownership of property was
waived, however, in case of foreigners naturalized before January 1,
1898, who had lived in the State five years, and in the case of men who
had voted in any State before 1867, or of sons or grandsons of such
persons. These could be placed upon a permanent roll to be made up
before September 1, 1898, and should have the right to vote upon
complying with the residence and poll tax requirements. Practically all
white persons of native stock either voted in some State in 1867 or were
descended from some one who had so voted. Few negroes in any State, and
none in the South, were voters in that year. It is obvious that suffrage
was open to white but barred to negro illiterates. Apparently the only
whites debarred under this clause were the illiterate and indigent sons
of foreign-born fathers.

North Carolina adopted a new suffrage article in 1900 which is much
simpler than those just described. It requires two years' residence in
the State, one in the county, and the payment of poll tax before the 1st
of May in the election year. A uniform educational qualification is laid
down, but the "permanent roll" is also included. No "male person who was
on January 1, 1867, or at any other time prior thereto, entitled to vote
under the laws of any State in the United States, wherein he then resided,
and no lineal descendant of any such person shall be denied the right to
register and vote at any election in the State by reason of his failure to
possess the educational qualifications herein prescribed: _Provided_ he
shall have registered in accordance with the terms of this section prior to
December 1, 1908." In other words, any white illiterate thirteen years old
or over when the amendment was adopted would not be deprived of his vote
because of the lack of educational qualifications. No other State had given
so long a time as this.

The "grandfather clause" here was shrewdly drawn. Free negroes voted in
North Carolina until 1835, and under the terms of the clause any negro
who could prove descent from a negro voter could not be debarred because
of illiteracy. Negroes voted in a few States in 1867, and they or their
descendants were exempt from the educational test. Of course the number
of these was negligible, and the clause accomplished precisely what it was
intended to do--that is, it disfranchised a large proportion of the negroes
and yet allowed the whites to vote. The extension of the time of
registration until 1908, eight years after the amendment was adopted and
six after it went into effect, made the disfranchisement of any
considerable number of whites impossible.

Alabama followed in 1901, combining the South Carolina and the Louisiana
plans and including the usual residence and poll tax requirements, as
well as the permanent roll. This was to be made up before December 20,
1902, and included soldiers of the United States, or of the State of
Alabama in any war, soldiers of the Confederate States, their lawful
descendants, and "men of good character who understood the duties and
obligations of citizenship under a republican form of government." After
the permanent roll has been made up, the applicant for registration must
be able to read and write and must have worked the greater part of the
twelve months next preceding, or he or his wife must own forty acres of
land or real estate or personal property assessed at not less than three
hundred dollars. A long list of disqualifying crimes was added,
including wife-beating and conviction for vagrancy. As if this were not
enough, after 1903 an applicant for registration might be required to state
where he had lived during the preceding five years, the name or names by
which known, and the names of his employers. Refusal to answer was made a
bar to registration, and wilful misstatement was regarded as perjury.

Oklahoma adopted its disfranchising amendment in 1910, without valid
reason so far as any one outside the State could see, as the proportion
of negroes was very small. An attempt was made permanently to
disfranchise the illiterate negro by the "grandfather clause," while
allowing illiterate white voters to vote forever. Other States allowed a
limited time in which to register on a permanent roll, after which all
illiterates were to be disfranchised. Oklahoma sought to keep suffrage
permanently open to illiterate whites, while closing it to illiterate
negroes. This amendment was declared unconstitutional by the United
States Supreme Court in June, 1915, on the ground that a State cannot
reestablish conditions existing before the ratification of the Fifteenth
Amendment, even though the disfranchising amendment contained no
"express words of exclusion" but "inherently brings that result into
existence."[1] What the Court will do with other similar constitutional
amendments when they are brought before it is not so certain. All differ
somewhat, and it is possible that the Court may let the whole or a part
of some of them stand. If not, it is probable that straight educational
and property qualifications will be substituted. In fact, if the Court
disapproves the permanent roll but allows the remainder to stand,
educational and property qualifications will prevail in several States.

[Footnote 1: Guinn _vs._ United States, 238 U.S., 347.]

All these plans for disfranchisement have accomplished the desired
results up to the present time. The negro vote has been greatly reduced
and elections are decided by the votes of white men. In some States,
negroes who could easily pass the tests no longer take the trouble to go
to the polls. The number of white voters also grows smaller. Some fail
to pay the poll tax, and others stay away from the polls because, as a
rule, the result has been decided in the primary elections. Since a
Democratic nomination is practically equivalent to election, many voters
who have taken part in the primaries neglect to vote on election day.
Only in North Carolina is there evidence of the growth of a strong
Republican opposition. In 1908, Taft received over 114,000 votes, and
the Republican candidate for governor 107,000. In 1916 Hughes received
120,000 votes as against 168,000 for Wilson.

What was done with the negro when he was thus rendered politically
helpless? Was there an attempt to take from him other things than the
ballot? The answer must be in the affirmative. Men advocated segregation
in common carriers, in public places, and even in places of residences.
An attempt to confine appropriations for negro schools to the amount of
taxes directly paid by the negroes has been made; men have sought office
on a platform of practical serfdom for the negro. But although some few
have achieved temporary successes--at least they have been
elected--their programs have not been carried out. The "Jim Crow" car is
common and the negro schools do not get appropriations equal to those of
the whites, but little else has been done. In fact, evidences of a
reaction in favor of the negro soon became apparent. The late Governor
Charles B. Aycock of North Carolina at the beginning of this century won
his triumphs on a platform of justice for the negro.

The question of the liquor traffic began to engage the attention of the
Southern people very soon after the end of Reconstruction. The great
problem was the sale of liquor in the unpoliced country districts, and
especially to negroes. By special legislative acts forbidding the sale
of liquor within a given number of miles of a church or a school a large
part of the South was made dry. Local option acts continued the
restrictive work until the sale of liquor outside of the larger
incorporated towns became rare. In some States, acts applying to the
whole State forbade the sale outside of towns. By concentrating their
efforts upon the towns, the anti-saloon forces made a large number of
them dry also, but there was so much illicit sale that employers often
found that Monday was a wasted day.

State wide prohibition began in 1907 with Oklahoma and Georgia, and
State after State followed until, in 1914, ten States were wholly dry,
and in large areas of the other Southern States the sale of intoxicants
was forbidden through local option. Southern members of Congress urged
the submission of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution,
forbidding manufacture or sale of intoxicants in the nation. Every
Southern State promptly ratified the Amendment when it was submitted by

Unfortunately many negroes when deprived of alcohol began to use drugs,
such as cocaine, and the effect morally and physically was worse than that
of liquor. The "coke fiend" became a familiar sight in the police courts of
Southern cities, and the underground traffic in the drug is still a
serious problem. The new Federal law has helped to control the evil, but
both cocaine and alcohol are still sold to negroes, sometimes by pedlars of
their own race, sometimes by unscrupulous white men. The consumption of
both is less, however, than before the restrictive legislation. The South
has traveled far from its old opposition to sumptuary laws. Like State
Rights, this principle is only invoked when convenient. Starting largely as
a movement to keep whiskey from the negro and, to a somewhat less extent,
from the white laborer, prohibition has become popular. On the whole it
has worked well in the South though "moonshining" is undoubtedly
increasing. The enormous price eagerly paid for whiskey in the
"bone-dry" States has led to a revival of the illicit distillery, which
had been almost stamped out.



The end of Reconstruction found the tenant system and the "crop lien"
firmly fastened upon the South. The plantation system had broken down
since the owner no longer had slaves to work his land, capital to pay
wages, or credit on which to borrow the necessary funds. Many of the
great plantations had already been broken up and sold, while others,
divided into tracts of convenient size, had been rented to white or
negro tenants. What had been one plantation became a dozen farms, a
score, or even more. Men who owned smaller tracts found it difficult to
hire or to keep labor, and many retained only the land which they or
their sons could work and rented the remainder of their farms. This
system is still characteristic of Southern agriculture.

Few of the landless whites and practically none of the negroes had
sufficient money reserve to maintain themselves for a year and hence no
capital to apply to the land on which they were tenants. Yet the land was
there ready to produce, the labor was there, more or less willing to work
if it could but live while the crop was growing. The country merchant had
already assumed the office of banker to the tenant farmer, and this
position he still holds in spite of all efforts to dislodge him. His
customers include not only tenants but some landowners, white or black.
They buy from him, during the months before the crop is gathered, the food,
clothing, and other supplies necessary for existence, and as many simple
luxuries as he will permit. When the crops are gathered, he buys them, or
at least the share of them belonging to the tenant, subtracts the store
accounts, and turns over the surplus, if any, to the farmers.

Unlike other bankers, the merchant charges no interest upon the capital
he advances, but he is paid nevertheless. For every pound of bacon,
meal, and flour, for every gallon of molasses, for every yard of cloth,
for every plug of tobacco or tin of snuff which the customer consumes
during the spring and summer, an advanced price is charged to him on the
merchant's books. With thousands of these merchants selling to hundreds
of thousands of farmers over a wide area, it is of course impossible to
state the average difference between credit and cash prices.
Investigations made in different sections show a wide variation
depending upon custom, competition, the reliability and industry of the
customer, the amount of advances, and the length of credit. Since a large
part of the advances are made during the six, or even four months before
the crops are gathered, the difference between cash and credit prices
amounts often to an interest charge of forty to one hundred per cent or
even more a year. These advanced credit prices, and consequently the high
interest rates, may be paid not only upon food, clothing, and other
personal goods, but also, occasionally, upon tools, farming implements,
fertilizers, and work animals.

The merchant is supposed to be protected against loss by the institution
of the crop lien and the chattel mortgage. By one or the other of these
the farmer is enabled to mortgage his growing, or even his unplanted
crops, his farming implements, his cattle, and horses, if he owns them.
If he is a landowner, the land may be included in a mortgage as
additional security. The crop is conveyed to the mortgagee as in an
ordinary land mortgage, and the tenant cannot hold back his crop for a
better price, or seek a better market for any part of it, until all his
obligations have been settled. Disposing of mortgaged property is a
serious offense and no one not desirous of abetting fraud will buy
property which he has reason to suspect has been mortgaged. As a result
of this system in some sections, years ago, nine-tenths of the farmers
were in debt. Undoubtedly the prices credited for the crops have been
less than might have been obtained in a market absolutely free. If the
crops a farmer raises bring less than the advances, the balance is
carried over to the next year and no other merchant will give credit to
a man whose accounts with his former creditor are not clear. In the past
the signing of one of these legal instruments has often reduced the
farmer to a state of peonage.

Naturally the merchant who has begun to extend credit, sometimes before
the seed is in the ground, has a voice in deciding what crops shall be
planted. The favorite crops in the past have been tobacco and cotton,
particularly the latter. Both contain comparatively large value in small
bulk; both can be stored conveniently, with little danger of
deterioration; neither is liable to a total failure; a ready market for
both is always available; and neither tempts the thief until it is ripe.
Only winter wheat, sown in the fall and reaped in early summer, is grown
in the South, and the crop is somewhat uncertain. A tenant who has secured
advances on a crop of wheat during the fall and winter may easily move to
an adjoining county or State in the spring and plant cotton there. Half a
crop of corn may easily be stolen, eaten by animals, or consumed by the
tenant while still green. A further reason for not encouraging the
production of corn and wheat is the profit the merchant makes by the sale
of imported flour, meal, and bacon. Cotton is therefore almost the only
product of sections admirably suited to the growing of corn or to the
raising of hogs. The country merchant has helped to keep the South poor.

Yet in spite of the apparently exorbitant percentage of profit, few
country merchants become rich. In a year of drouth, or of flood, many of
their debtors may not be able to pay their accounts, even though their
intentions are of the best. Others may prove shiftless and neglect their
fields. Still others may be deliberately dishonest and, after getting as
large advances as possible, abandon their crops leaving both the
landowner and the merchant in the lurch. These creditors must then
either attempt to harvest the crop by hired labor, with the hope of
reducing their loss, or else charge the whole to profit and loss. The
illness or death of the debtor may also prevent the proper cultivation of
the crop he has planted. For these different reasons every country
merchant is likely to accumulate many bad debts which may finally throw
him into bankruptcy. Those who succeed are exceptionally shrewd or very

The relation of the tenant to his landlord varies in different parts of
the South. Many different plans of landholding have been tried since
1865, and traces of all of them may be found throughout the length and
breadth of the South. One was a modified serfdom, in which the tenant
worked for the landlord four or five days in every week for a small
wage. In addition he had a house, firewood, and several acres of land
which he might cultivate on his own account. According to another plan,
the landlord promised to pay a fixed sum of money to the laborer when
the crop was gathered. Both plans had their origin primarily in the
landlord's poverty, but were reenforced by the tenant's unreliability.
These plans, as well as combinations of these with some others to be
mentioned, have now practically died out. There remain the following
alternatives: land may be rented for a fixed sum of money per acre, to be
paid when the crops are sold, or for a fixed quantity of produce, so many
bushels of corn or so many pounds of cotton being paid for every acre; or,
more commonly, land may be rented on some form of share tenancy by which
the risk as well as the profit is shared by both tenant and landowner.

Share tenancy assumes various forms. In some sections a rough
understanding grew up that, in the division of a crop, one-third was to
be allotted to the land, one-third to live stock, seed, and tools, and
one-third to labor. If the tenant brought nothing but his bare hands, he
received only the share supposed to be due to labor; if he owned working
animals and implements, he received in addition the share supposed to be
due to them. This arrangement, modified in individual cases, still
persists, especially where the tenants are white. As various forms of
industrial enterprise have continued to draw labor from the farms, the
share assigned to labor by this form of tenancy has increased until, in
perhaps the greater part of the South and certainly in the
cotton-growing sections, it is usually one-half.

The ordinary arrangement of share tenancy under which the negro in the
cotton belt now works provides that the landowner shall furnish a cabin in
which the family may live and an acre or two for a garden. In addition,
working stock, implements, and seed are supplied by the owner of the land.
Both tenant and owner share the cost of fertilizers if any are used, and
divide equally the expenses of preparing the crop for market and the
proceeds of the sale. This arrangement means, of course, that the
capitalist takes the laborer into a real partnership. Both embark in a
venture the deferred results of which are dependent chiefly upon the
industry and good faith of the laborer. By a seeming paradox it is only the
laborer's unreliability which gives him such an opportunity, for if he were
more dependable, the landowner would prefer in most cases to pay wages and
take the whole of the crop. Because the average negro laborer cannot be
depended upon to be faithful, he is given a greater opportunity,
contrary to all ordinary moral maxims.

When the share tenant lives on the land he may be a part of two
different systems. There are some large plantations over which the
owners or managers exercise close supervision. The horses or, more
generally, the mules are housed in large common stables or sheds and are
properly looked after. Some attempt is made to see that tools and
implements are kept in order. If the tenant falls behind in his work and
allows his crop to be overrun with grass or is unable to pick the cotton
as it opens, the owner hires help, if possible, and charges the cost
against the tenant. In other words, the owner attempts to apply to
agriculture some of the principles of industrial organization. The success
of such attempts varies. The negro tenant generally resents close
supervision; but on the other hand he enjoys the community life of a large
plantation. In the end, in the majority of cases the personal equation
determines whether the negro stays or moves.

At the other extreme is the landowner who turns over his land to the
negro and hopes for some return. If the tenant is industrious and
ambitious, the landowner gets something and is relieved of the trouble
of supervision. Often, however, he finds at the end of the year that the
mules have deteriorated from being worked through the day and driven or
ridden over the country at night; the tools and implements are broken or
damaged; and the fences have been used for firewood, though an abundant
supply could have been obtained by a few hours' labor. Very often the
landlord's share of the small crop will not really compensate him for the
depreciated value of his property, for land rented without supervision is
likely to decrease in fertility and to bring in meager returns.

A more successful arrangement between the two extremes is often seen in
sections where the population is largely white and land is held in
smaller tracts. Here a white farmer who owns more land than he or his
sons can cultivate marks off a tract for a tenant, white or black, who
may be said to work with his landlord. Both he and others of his family
may work an occasional day for the landlord, receiving pay either in
kind or in cash. Relations between such families often become close, and
the tenant may remain on the property for years. In some sections there
are numerous examples of what might be called permanent tenants.
Sometimes such a tenant ultimately purchases the land upon which he has
worked or other land in the neighborhood.

The plantation owner may be a merchant-landlord also and may furnish
supplies to his tenants. He keeps only staple articles, but he may give
an order on a neighboring store for those not in stock or may even
furnish small sums of money on occasion. The tenants are not allowed to
buy as much as they choose either in the plantation store or in the local
store at the crossroads. At the beginning of the year the landlord or the
merchant generally allows a credit ranging from fifty to two hundred
dollars but rarely higher and attempts to make the tenant distribute the
purchases over the whole period during which the crop is growing. If
permitted, many, perhaps a large majority of the tenants, might use up
their credit months before the crop was gathered. In such cases the
merchant or landlord, or both, must make further advances to save what they
have already invested or else must see the tenant abandon is crops and

These relations between landlord and tenant show much diversity, but
certain conditions prevail everywhere. Few tenants can sustain
themselves until the crop is gathered, and a very large percentage of
them must eat and wear their crops before they are gathered--a
circumstance which will create no surprise unless the reader makes the
common error of thinking of them as capitalists. Though the landlord in
effect takes his tenants into partnership, they are really only
laborers, and few laborers anywhere are six or eight months ahead of
destitution. How many city laborers, even those with skilled trades,
could exist without credit if their wages were paid only once a year?
How many of them would have prudence or foresight enough to conserve their
wages when finally paid and make them last until the next annual payment?
The fault for which the tenant is to be blamed is that he does not take
advantage of two courses of action open to him: first, to raise a
considerable part of the food he consumes; and second, to struggle
persistently to become independent of the merchant. Thousands of tenants
have achieved their economic freedom, and all could if they would only make
an intelligent and continued effort to do so.

Nowhere else in the United States has the negro the same opportunity to
become self-sustaining, but his improvidence keeps him poor. Too often
he allows what little garden he has to be choked with weeds through his
shiftlessness. One of the shrewdest observers and fairest critics of the
negro, Alfred Holt Stone, says of the Mississippi negro: "In a
plantation experience of more than twelve years, during which I have
been a close observer of the economic life of the plantation negro, I
have not known one to anticipate the future by investing the earnings of
one year in supplies for the next....The idea seems to be that the
money from a crop already gathered is theirs, to be spent as fancy
suggests, while the crop to be made must take care of itself, or be taken
care of by the 'white-folks.'"[1] This statement is not so true of the
negroes of the Upper South, many of whom are more intelligent, and have
developed foresight and self-reliance.

[Footnote 1: Stone. _Studies in the American Race Problem_, p. 188]

The theory that there is an organized conspiracy over the whole South to
keep the negro in a state of peonage is frequently advanced by ignorant
or disingenuous apologists for the negro, but this belief cannot be
defended. The merchants usually prefer to sell for cash, and more and
more of them are reluctant to sell on credit. In some cotton towns no
merchant will sell on credit, and the landlord is obliged to furnish
supplies to those who cannot pay. The landowners generally would much
prefer a group of prosperous permanent tenants who could be depended
upon to give some thought to the crop of the future as well as to that
of the present. In the South as a whole the negro finds little
difficulty in buying land, if he can make a moderate first payment. It
is true that some are cheated by the merchant or the landlord. Prices
charged for supplies are too high, and the prices credited for crops are
too low, but the debtors are hardly swindled to a greater extent than
the ignorant and illiterate elsewhere.

The condition of the white tenant is sometimes little better than that
of the negro. He usually farms a larger tract, 83.8 acres on the average
(in 1910), as against 39.6 acres for the negro, and he is on the whole
more prosperous; but there are many who live from hand to mouth, move
frequently, habitually get into debt to the merchant or the landlord,
and have little or no surplus at settling time. In the South in 1910
there were 866,000 white tenant farmers who cultivated 20.5 per cent of
all the land, and since that time white tenancy has been increasing. The
increase of land ownership is greater among the negroes than among the
whites, who are in many cases illiterates. This illiteracy is one cause
of their poverty, but not the only cause: a part of it is moral,
involving a lack of steadfast purpose, and a part is physical. The
researches conducted by the United States Government, the state boards
of health, and the Rockefeller Foundation show clearly that much of the
indolence charged to the less prosperous Southern rural whites is due to
the effect of the hookworm, a tiny intestinal parasite common in most
tropical and subtropical regions and probably brought from Africa or the
West Indies by the negro. The Rockefeller Foundation is now spending nearly
$300,000 a year in financing, wholly or in part, attempts to eradicate the
disease in eight Southern States and in fifteen foreign countries.

The parasite enters the body from polluted soil, usually through the
feet, as a large part of the rural population goes barefoot in the
summer; it makes its way to the intestinal canal, where it fixes itself,
grows, and lays eggs which are voided and hatch in the soil. Since most
country districts are without sanitary closets, reinfection may occur
again and again, until an individual harbors a host of these tiny
bloodsuckers, which interfere with his digestion and sap his vitality.
It is now believed that the morbid appetites of the "clay eaters" are
due to this infection. The fact that the negro who introduced the curse
is less susceptible to the infection and is less affected by it than the
white man is one of life's ironies.

There is a brighter side to this picture, however. Of all the cultivated
land in the South 65 per cent is worked by owners (white 60.6 per cent;
colored 4.4 per cent) and this land is on the whole much better tilled
than that let to tenants. It is true that some of the landowners are
chronically in debt, burdened with mortgages and with advances for
supplies. Some of them probably produce less to the acre than tenants
working under close supervision, but the percentage of farms mortgaged is
less in the South than in any other part of the country except the
Mountain Division, and unofficial testimony indicates that few farms are
lost through foreclosure.

For years the agricultural colleges and the experiment stations offered
good advice to the Southern farmer, but they reached only a small
proportion. Their bulletins had a small circulation and were so full of
technical expressions as to be almost unintelligible to the average
farmer. Recently the writers have attempted to make themselves more
easily understood, and the usefulness of their publications has
consequently increased. The bulletins of the Department of Agriculture
are read in increasing numbers, and several agricultural papers have a
wide circulation. The "farmer's institutes" where experts in various
lines speak on their specialties are well attended, and the experimental
farms to which few visitors came at first are now popular.

Two other agencies are doing much for agricultural betterment. One is
the county demonstrator, and the other boys' and girls' clubs. Both are due
to the foresight and wisdom of the late Dr. Seaman A. Knapp, of the United
States Department of Agriculture. As early as 1903 Dr. Knapp had been
showing by practical demonstration how the farmers of Texas might
circumvent the boll weevil, which was threatening to make an end of
cotton-growing in that State. He was able to increase the yield of cotton
on a pest-ridden farm. The idea of the boys' corn club was not new when
Dr. Knapp took it up in 1908 and made it a national institution. The girls'
canning club was soon added to the list, and then came the pig club for
boys and the poultry club for girls.

The General Education Board, which, with its large resources, had been
seeking the best way to aid education in the South, was forced to the
conclusion that any educational development must be preceded by economic
improvement. The farm production of the South was less than that of
other sections, and until this production could be increased, taxation,
no matter how heavy, could not provide sufficient money for really
efficient schools. After a study of the whole field of agricultural
education, the ideas of Dr. Knapp were adopted as the basis of the work
and, by arrangement with the Department of Agriculture, Dr. Knapp himself
was placed in charge. The appropriations to the Department of Agriculture
had been made for the extermination or circumvention of the boll weevil
and could not be used for purely educational work in States where the
weevil had not appeared. A division of territory was now made: the
Department financed demonstration work in those States affected by the
pest and the General Education Board bore the expense in the other States.
Entire supervision of the work was in the hands of the Department of
Agriculture, which made all appointments and disbursed all funds. The Board
furnished funds but assumed no authority. The history issued by the
General Education Board says: "Dr. Knapp endeavored to teach his hearers
not only how to raise cotton and corn, but how to conduct farming as a
business--how to ascertain the cost of a crop, how to find out whether they
were making or losing money. As rapidly as possible the scope was broadened
for the purpose of making the farmer more and more independent. He was
stimulated to raise stock, to produce feed and forage for his stock, and
to interest himself in truck gardening, hog-raising, etc."

The method used was to appoint county, district and state demonstration
agents who would induce different farmers to cultivate a limited area
according to specific directions. As these agents were appointed by the
Department of Agriculture, the farmer was flattered by being singled out by
the Government. In most cases the results of the experiments were far
superior to those which the farmer had obtained merely by following
tradition, and he usually applied the successful methods to his whole farm.
Some of his neighbors, who visited the demonstration plot to scoff at the
idea that any one in Washington could teach a farmer how to grow cotton or
corn, were wise enough to recognize the improvement and to follow the
directions. Every successful demonstration farm was thus a center of
influence, and the work was continued after Dr. Knapp's death under the
charge of his son, Bradford Knapp.

The idea of the boys' corn club was vitalized in 1908 by Dr. Knapp, who
planned to establish a corn club in every neighborhood, with county and
state organizations. Each boy was to cultivate a measured acre of land
in corn, according to directions and keep a strict account of the cost.
The work of his father, or of a hired man, in ploughing the land must be
charged against the plot at the market rate. Manure, or fertilizer, and
seed were likewise to be charged, but the main work of cultivation was to
be done by the boy himself. The crop was to be measured by two
disinterested witnesses who should certify to the result. Local pride was
depended upon to furnish prizes for the county organization, but the most
successful boys in every State were to be taken on a trip to Washington,
there to shake hands with the Secretary of Agriculture and the President.
This appeal to the imagination of youth was a master touch.

Thousands of boys were interested and achieved results which were truly
startling. In every State the average yield from the boys' acres was
larger than the state average, in some cases almost five times as great.
One South Carolina boy produced on his acre in 1910 over 228 bushels,
and in 1913 an Alabama boy reached high-water mark with nearly 233
bushels. Hundreds of boys produced over 100 bushels to the acre, and the
average of the boys in South Carolina was nearly 69 bushels, compared
with an average of less than 20 for the adult farmers. The pig clubs
which followed have likewise been successful and have stimulated an
interest in good stock and proper methods of caring for it. Many country
banks have financed these operations by buying hogs by the carload and
selling to the club members on easy terms.

Girls' canning clubs were organized by Dr. Knapp in 1910. Girls were
encouraged to plant a tenth of an acre in tomatoes. Trained
demonstrators then traveled from place to place and showed them how to
use portable canning outfits. The girls met, first at one house and then
at another, to preserve their tomatoes, and soon they began to preserve
many other vegetables and fruits. Two girls in Tennessee are said to
have preserved 126 different varieties of food. Some of these clubs have
gained more than a local reputation for their products and have been
able to sell their whole output to hotels or to institutions. Though the
monetary gain has been worth something, the addition to the limited
dietary of the homes has been worth more, and the social influence of
these clubs has been considerable. The small farmer in the South is not
a social being, and anything which makes for cooperation is valuable.
The poultry clubs which were an extension of the canning club idea have
been successful. The club idea, indeed, has been extended beyond the
limits of the South. Congress, recognizing its value, has taken over and
extended the work and has supported it liberally. Today market-garden
clubs for the manufacturing cities, potato clubs, mother-and-daughter
clubs, and perhaps others have grown out of the vision of Dr. Knapp.

Though these activities have had a great effect in improving the South,
that section has not yet been transformed into an Eden. In spite of farm
demonstrations, experiment stations, and boys' and girls' clubs, the
stubborn inertia of a rural population fixed on the soil has only been
shocked, not routed. Much land is barely scratched instead of being
ploughed deep; millions of acres bear no cover crops but lose their
fertility through the leaching of valuable constituents during the
winter. Fertilizer is bought at exorbitant prices, while the richness of
the barnyard goes to waste, and legumes are neglected; land is allowed
to wash into gullies which soon become ravines. Farms which would
produce excellent corn and hay are supplied with these products from the
Middle West; millions of pounds of Western pork are consumed in regions
where hogs can be easily and cheaply raised; butter from Illinois or
Wisconsin is brought to sections admirably adapted to dairying; and
apples from Oregon and honey from Ohio are sold in the towns. In several
typical counties an average of $4,000,000 was sent abroad for products
which could easily have been raised at home. In Texas some of the bankers
have been refusing credit to supply merchants who do not encourage the
production of food crops as well as cotton.[1]

[Footnote 1: An illuminating series of studies of rural life is being
issued by the Bureau of Extension of the University of North Carolina.]

Throughout the South there are thousands of homes into which no
newspaper comes, certainly no agricultural paper, and in which there are
few books, except perhaps school books. The cooking is sometimes done
with a few simple utensils over the open fire. Water must be brought
from a spring at the foot of the hill, at an expenditure of strength and
endurance. The cramped house has no conveniences to lighten labor or to
awaken pride. The overworked wife and mother has no social life, except
perhaps attendance at the services at the country church to which the
family rides in a springless wagon. Such families see their neighbors
prosper without attempting to discover the secret for themselves. Blank
fatalism possesses them. They do not realize that they could prosper.
New methods of cultivation, they think, are not for them since they have
no capital to purchase machinery.

On the other hand, one sees more Ford cars than teams at many country
churches, and many larger automobiles as well. Some Southern States are
spending millions for better roads, and the farmer or his son or
daughter can easily run into town in the afternoon carrying a little
produce which more than pays for any purchases. Tractors are seen at
work here and there, and agricultural machinery is under the sheds. Many
houses have private water systems and a few farmers have harnessed the
brooks for electric lights. The gas engine which pumps the water runs
the corn sheller or the wood saw. The rural telephone spreads like a web
over the countryside. Into these houses the carrier brings the daily or
semi-weekly paper from the neighboring town, agricultural journals, and
some magazines of national circulation; a piano stands in the parlor;
and perhaps a college pennant or two hang somewhere, for many farm boys
and girls go to college. In spite of the short terms of the public
schools, many manage to get some sort of preparation for college, and in
the South more college students come from farm homes than from town or
city. This encouraging picture is true, no less than the other, and the
number of such progressive farm homes is fortunately growing larger.

A greater range of products is being cultivated throughout the South,
though more cotton and tobacco are being produced than ever before. The
output of corn, wheat, hay, and pork has increased in recent years, though
the section is not yet self-sufficient. The growing of early vegetables and
fruits for Northern markets is a flourishing industry in some sections
where land supposedly almost worthless has been found to be admirably
adapted for this purpose. An increasing acreage in various legumes not
only furnishes forage but enriches the soil. Silos are to be seen here and
there, and there are some excellent herds of dairy cattle, though the
scarcity of reliable labor makes this form of farming hazardous. The cattle
tick is being conquered, and more beef is being produced. Thoroughbred
hogs and poultry are common.

With the great rise in the price of the farmer's products since 1910,
the man who farms with knowledge and method is growing prosperous.
Farmers are taking advantage of the Federal Farm Loan Act and are paying
off many mortgages. The necessity of asking for credit is diminishing,
and men have contracted to buy land and have paid for it from the first
crop. While the things the farmer must buy have risen in price, his
products have risen even higher in value; and in those sections of the
South suited to mixed farming there need be comparatively little outgo.

One is tempted to hope that the lane has turned for the Southern farmer.
Partly owing to his ignorance and inertia, partly to circumstances
difficult to overcome, his lot after 1870 was not easy, and from 1870 to
1910 is a full generation. An individual who grew to manhood on a
Southern farm during that period may be excused for a gloomy outlook
upon the world. He finds it difficult to believe that prosperity has
arrived, or that it will last. The number who have been convinced of the
brighter outlook, however, is increasing.



Though the Old South was in the main agricultural, it was not entirely
destitute of industrial skill. The recent industrial development is
really a revival, not a revolution, in some parts of the South. In 1810,
according to Tench Coxe's semi-official _Statement of Arts and
Manufactures_, the value of the textile products of North Carolina was
greater than that of Massachusetts. Every farmhouse had spinning-wheels
and one loom or several on which the women of the family spun yarn and
wove cloth for the family wardrobe. On the large plantations negro women
produced much of the cloth for both slaves and family. Except on special
occasions, a very large proportion of the clothing worn by the average
Southern community was of household or local manufacture. Hats were made
of fur, wool, or plaited straw. Hides were tanned on the plantations or
more commonly at a local tannery and were made into shoes by local
cobblers, white or black.

Local cabinet-makers made furniture, all of it strong, and some of it
good in line and finish. Many of the pieces sold by dealers in antiques
in the great cities as coming from Europe by way of the South were made
by cabinet-makers in Southern villages in the first half of the
nineteenth century. Farm wagons as well as carriages with some
pretensions to elegance were made in local shops. In fact, up to 1810 or
1820 it seemed that the logical development of one or two of the South
Atlantic States would be into frugal manufacturing commonwealths. Few of
the thousands of small shops developed into real manufacturing
establishments, however, though many continued to exist. The belief in
the profits apparently to be made from the cultivation of cotton and
tobacco changed the ideals of the people. To own a plantation on which
he might lead a patriarchal existence became the ambition of the
successful man. Even the lawyer, the doctor, or the merchant was likely
to own a plantation to which he expected to retire, if indeed he did not
already live on it while he engaged in his other occupation. As the
century went on, the section began to depend more and more upon other
parts of the country or upon Europe to supply its wants, and general
interest in Southern industries began to wane.

Textile establishments had appeared early in the century. The first
cotton mill in North Carolina was built in 1810 and one in Georgia about
the same time. Much of the machinery for the former was built by local
workmen. Other mills were built in the succeeding years until in 1860
there were about 160 in the Southern States, with 300,000 spindles, and
a yearly product worth more than $8,000,000. The establishments were
small, less than one-third the average size of the mills in New England,
and few attempted to supply more than the local demand for coarse yarn
which the country women knit into socks or wove into cloth. The surplus
was peddled from wagons in adjoining counties or even in a neighboring
State. Little attempt was made to seek a wider outlet, and many of these
mills could supply the small local demand by running only a few months
in the year.

During the Civil War, however, these mills were worked to their full
capacity. At the cessation of hostilities many mills were literally worn
out; others were destroyed by the invading armies; and fewer were in
operation in 1870 than before the War. During the next decade, hope of
industrial success began to return to the South. The mills in operation
were making some money; the high price of cotton had brought money into
the section; and a few men had saved enough to revive the industry. Old
mills were enlarged, and new mills were built. The number in operation
in 1880 was about the same as in 1860, but the number of spindles was
nearly twice as great.

The Cotton Exposition at Atlanta in 1881 and the New Orleans Exposition
in 1884 gave an impetus to the construction of mills. There were
prophecies of future success in the industry, though some self-appointed
guardians of the South proved, to their own satisfaction at least, that
neither the section nor the people were adapted to the manufacture of
cotton and that all their efforts should be devoted to the production of
raw material for the mills of New England. Difficulties were magnified
and advantages were minimized by those whose interests were opposed to
Southern industrial development, but the movement had now gained
momentum and was not to be stopped. Timidly and hesitantly, capital for
building mills was scraped together in dozens of Southern communities,
and the number of spindles was doubled between 1880 and 1885 and continued
to increase.

In developing this Southern industry there were many difficulties to be
overcome, and mistakes were sometimes made. Seduced by apparent
cheapness, many of the new mills bought machinery which the New England
mills had discarded for better patterns, or because of a change of
product. Operatives had to be drawn from the farms and needed to be
trained not only to work in the mills but also to habits of regularity
and punctuality. The New England overseers who were imported for this
purpose sometimes failed in dealing with these new recruits to
industrialism because of inability to make due allowance for their
limitations. Accustomed to the truck system in agriculture, the managers
often paid wages in scrip always good for supplies at the company store
but redeemable in cash only at infrequent intervals. The operatives
therefore sometimes found that they had exchanged one sort of economic
dependence for another. Another difficulty was that a place for Southern
yarn and Southern cloth had to be gained in the market, and this was
difficult of accomplishment for the product was often not up to the
Northern standard.

Managing ability, however, was found not to be so rare in the South as
had been supposed. Some of the managers, drawn perhaps from the village
store, the small town bank, or the farm, succeeded so well in the
broader field that others were encouraged to seek similar industrial
success. As the construction of new mills went on, the temper of the
South Atlantic States began to change. The people began to believe in
Southern industrial development and to be eager to invest their savings
in something other than a land mortgage. An instalment plan by which the
savings of the people, small individually but large in the aggregate,
were united, furnished capital for mills in scores of towns and
villages. In 1890 there were nearly a million and three-quarters
spindles in the South compared with less than six hundred thousand ten
years before.

It seemed as though nearly every mill was profitable, and the occasional
failures did not seriously check the movement, which developed about
1900 almost into a craze in some parts of the South. In these sections
every town talked of building one mill or more. The machine shops of the
North, which had been cold or at least indifferent to Southern
development, woke up, as Southern mills began to double or triple their
equipment out of their profits. Agents were sent to the South to
encourage the building of new mills, and to give advice and aid in
planning them. The new mill-owners were good customers. They had learned
wisdom by the mistakes of the pioneers, and they demanded the best
machinery with all the latest devices. Long credit was now freely
offered by Northern manufacturers of machinery, and some of them even
subscribed for stock--to be paid, of course, in machinery.

The Northern textile manufacturers also woke up. They found that in
coarse yarns the Southern mills were successfully competing with their
products. Some pessimistic representatives of the industry in the North
prophesied that the Southern mills would soon control the market. Some
New England mills built branch mills in the South; some turned to the
finer yarns; and some sought to throw obstacles in the way of their
competitors. It has been freely charged by many Southerners that New
England manufacturers bore the expense of labor organizers in an
unsuccessful attempt to unionize the Southern mill operatives. It has
also been charged that the propaganda for legislation restricting the
hours of labor and the age of operatives in Southern mills was financed
to some extent by New England manufacturers, and that the writers of
the many lurid accounts purporting to describe conditions in Southern
mills received pay from the same source.

The system of paying for stock on the instalment plan permitted the
construction of many mills for which capital could not have been raised
otherwise and had also certain distinct social consequences. According
to this plan, the subscriptions to the stock were made payable in weekly
instalments of 50 cents or $1.00 a share, thus requiring approximately
two or four years to complete payment. Those having money in hand might
pay in full, less six per cent discount for the average time. Since
almost or quite a year was usually necessary to build the mill and the
necessary tenements for the hands, the instalments more than paid this
item of expense. The weekly receipts and the payments in full were kept
in a local bank, which also expected future business and was therefore
likely to be liberal when credit was demanded. Often the officers and
directors of the bank were also personally interested in the new
enterprise. The machinery manufacturers gave long credit and often took
stock in the mill. Commission houses which sold yarns and cloth also
took stock with the expectation of controlling the marketing of the

Many mills built on this plan were so profitable that they were able to
pay for a considerable part of the machinery from the profits long
before the last instalment was paid, and some even paid a dividend or
two in addition. Such mills started operations with many things in their
favor. The ownership was widely distributed, since it was not at all
uncommon for a hundred thousand dollar mill to have a hundred or more
stockholders, some of whom held only one or two shares. Further, since
the amount of money paid in the immediate neighborhood for wages, fuel,
and raw material was large, every one was disposed to aid the enterprise
in every way possible. Town limits were often changed almost by common
consent in order to throw a mill outside so that it would not be subject
to town taxes. Where the state constitutions permitted, taxes on the
mill were even remitted for a term of years. Where this could not be
done, assessors were lenient and usually assessed mill property at much
less than its real value.

Not only did some Northern corporations build branch mills in the South,
but a considerable amount of Northern capital was invested in mills
under the management of Southern men. It is of course impossible to
discover the residence of every stockholder, but enough is known to
support the assertion that the proportion of Northern capital is
comparatively small. The greater part of the investment in Southern
mills has come from the savings of Southern people or has been earned by
the mills themselves. Lately several successful mills have been bought
by large department stores and mail-order houses, in order to supply
them with goods either for the counter directly or else for the
manufacture of sheets, pillowcases, underwear, and the like. Marshall
Field and Company of Chicago, for example, own several mills in North

The mills of the South have continued to increase until they are now
much more numerous than in the North. They are smaller in size, however,
for in 1915 the number of spindles in the cotton-growing States was
12,711,000 compared with 19,396,000 in all other States. The consumption
of cotton was nevertheless much greater in the South and amounted to
3,414,000 bales, compared with 2,770,000 bales in the other States. This
difference is explained by the fact that Southern mills generally spin
coarser yarn and may therefore easily consume twice or even three times
as much cotton as mills of the same number of spindles engaged in
spinning finer yarn. Some Southern mills, however, spin very fine yarn
from either Egyptian or sea-island cotton, but time is required to
educate a considerable body of operatives competent to do the more
delicate tasks, while less skillful workers are able to produce the
coarser numbers.

Southern mills have paid high dividends in the past and have also
greatly enlarged their plants from their earnings. They had, years ago,
several advantages, some of which persist to the present day. The cost
of the raw material was less where a local supply of cotton could be
obtained, since freight charges were saved by purchase in the
neighborhood; land and buildings for plant and tenements cost less than
in the North; fuel was cheaper; water power was often utilized, though
sometimes this saving was offset by the cost of transportation; taxes
were lower; the rate of wages was lower; there was little or no
restriction of the conditions of employment; and there were
comparatively few labor troubles.

With the great growth of the industry, however, some of these early
advantages have disappeared. Many mills can no longer depend upon the
local supply of cotton, and the freight charge from the Lower South is
as high as the rate by water to New England or even higher; the
transportation of the finished product to Northern markets is an
additional expense; wages have risen with the growth of the industry and
are approaching closely, if they have not reached, the rate per unit of
product paid in other sections. The cost of fuel has increased, although
in some localities the development of hydro-electric power has reduced
this item. All the States have imposed restrictions upon the employment
of women and children in the mills, particularly at night. On the other
hand, taxes remain lower, the cost of building is less, and strikes and
other forms of industrial friction are still uncommon. When well
managed, the Southern mills are still extremely profitable, but margin
for error in management has become less.

The Southern mills are chiefly to be found in four States, North
Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, and in the hill country
of these States, though a few large mills are situated in the lowlands.
North Carolina, with over three hundred mills, has more than any other
State, North or South, and consumes more cotton than any other Southern
State--over a million bales.

South Carolina, however, has more spindles, the average size of its
mills is larger, and it spins more fine yarn. North Carolina is second
only to Massachusetts in the value of its cotton products, South
Carolina comes third, Georgia fourth, and Alabama eighth. Virginia and
Tennessee are lower on the list. In quantity of cotton consumed, the
cotton growing States passed all others in 1905; and in 1916 the
consumption was twenty-five per cent greater, in spite of the fact that
New England had been increasing her spindles. Some Southern mills are
built in cities, but usually they are in the smaller towns and in little
villages which have grown up around the mills and owe their existence to
them. There is some localization of industry: a very large number of
mills, for instance, may be found in a radius of one hundred miles from
Charlotte, North Carolina, and one North Carolina county has more than
fifty mills, though the total number of spindles in that county is not
much greater than in some single New England establishment.

In the allied knitting industry the production of the South is
increasing in importance. North Carolina led the South in 1914, with
Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, following in the order named. Though most
of the establishments are small, some are important and are
establishing a wide reputation for their product. Generally they are
situated in the towns where cotton mills have already been located.

The textile industry, though it is the most important, is not the only
great industrial enterprise in the New South. Two others, both in a way
the by-products of cotton, deserve attention. Only a few years ago
cotton seed was considered a nuisance. A small quantity was fed to
stock; a somewhat larger quantity was composted with stable manure and
used for fertilizer; but the greater part was left to rot or was even
dumped into the streams which ran the gins. Since the discovery of the
value of cottonseed products, the industry has grown rapidly. The oil is
now used in cooking, is mixed with olive oil, is sold pure for salad
oil, and is an important constituent of oleomargarine, lard substitutes,
and soap, to name only a few of the uses to which it is put. The cake,
or meal from which the oil has been pressed, is rich in nitrogen and is
therefore valuable as fertilizer; it is also a standard food for cattle,
and tentative experiments with it have even been made as a food for
human beings. The hulls have also considerable value as cattle food, and
from them are obtained annually nearly a million bales of "linters,"
that is, short fibers of cotton which escaped the gin. Since the seed is
bulky and the cost of transportation is correspondingly high, there are
many small cottonseed oil mills rather than a few large ones. Texas is
the leader in this industry, with Georgia next, though oil mills are to
be found in all the cotton States, and the value of the seed adds
considerably to the income of every cotton grower. In 1914 the value of
cottonseed products was $212,000,000.


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