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New South

The New South refers to proposed changes in the Southern economy in the post-Civil War era. As used by Henry Grady, a newspaper editor from Atlanta, proponents of the New South advocated for increased laissez-faire policies.

Grady and New South advocates also emphasized economic diversity supporting greater industrialization and criticizing over-reliance on cotton as the South's sole revenue-generating crop. 


King Cotton

King Cotton refers to the importance of cotton to Southern agriculture in the 19th century. 

After the Civil War, many Southerners advocated for a New South and supported increased diversification in Southern agriculture, emphasizing tobacco, rice, and sugar cane.


crop lien system

During Reconstruction, many Southern farmers were strapped for cash. Under the crop lien system, farm workers estimated the value of their forthcoming crops, and borrowed against it.

Sample crop liens proved dangerous to farmers, as the failure of a crop would result in foreclosure of the farm and dispossession of the farmer.


How did Southern cities economically diversify after the Civil War?

During the post-Civil War period, many Southern cities turned to industrialization. Steel mills proliferated in Birmingham, Richmond became an epicenter for tobacco production, and Memphis specialized in processing lumber.


Who was Booker T. Washington?

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) founded the Tuskegee Institute, a vocational school for blacks in Alabama. The Tuskegee Institute taught skilled trades, preached the value of hard work, and contended that black empowerment would come through employment and self-advancement.


What was the Atlanta Compromise?

During an 1895 speech at the Atlanta Exposition, Booker T. Washington announced that an agreement had been reached between Southern whites and blacks. Under the agreement, blacks agreed to submit to white political rule, while whites guaranteed that blacks would receive basic education in trades and due process in law.

In the early 1900s, black leaders such as W.E.B. Du Bois denounced any accommodation with whites that did not include political equality.


How did George Washington Carver affect Southern agriculture?

Carver's work at the Tuskegee Institute in the post-Civil War era emphasized agricultural products such as peanuts, which could restore nitrogen to soil depleted by years of cotton farming.

After the boll weevil began destroying cotton harvests, Carver's work took on added importance as an argument against King Cotton and for crop diversity.


In 1883, the Supreme Court heard a number of cases collectively known as the Civil Rights Cases. What did the Court hold? 

In the Civil Rights Cases, the Court held that Congress could not outlaw racial discrimination by private individuals. The Court reasoned that the Fourteenth Amendment only applied to state acts, but not to the acts of private individuals.

These cases put an end to the efforts of Radical Reconstructionists to ensure black equality in the South, and endemic Southern discrimination continued into the 1960s.


Separate but Equal

The South used "Separate but Equal" to justify segregation under the Constitution. The Supreme Court condoned Separate but Equal in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), holding that racial segregation was legal, so long as the facilities offered to blacks were roughly equal to those offered to whites.

In reality, the separate bathrooms, drinking fountains, schools, railroad cars, and myriad other separate facilities were never equal. In 1954, the Court overturned Plessy in Brown v. Board of Education.


Jim Crow Laws

The Jim Crow Laws were a collective name for laws passed in the South after Reconstruction to discriminate against and disenfranchise blacks. Jim Crow Laws included school segregation, poll taxes, literacy tests, and grandfather clauses.


How were grandfather clauses used to deprive blacks from exercising their right to vote?

In the context of voting, grandfather clauses only permitted a potential voter to cast his ballot if his grandfather had also voted.

Enacted as part of the Jim Crow Laws, in practical effect, grandfather clauses disenfranchised blacks, none of whose grandfathers had been able to vote.


What is a poll tax?

A poll tax is a tax that must be paid before one is allowed to vote. Since the poor were often unable or unwilling to pay the poll tax, they were effectively disenfranchised. The poll tax was used as part of the package of Jim Crow Laws enacted after Reconstruction, and affected poor whites as well as blacks.

Many states, including Arkansas, made it a crime to pay another's poll tax, precluding Northerners from influencing Southern elections. 


Beginning in the 1880s, Ida B. Wells devoted herself to investigating and exposing what societal ill?

The lynching of blacks

Lynchings had become common in the South. Wells, a prominent speaker and social advocate, investigated lynchings and published Southern Horrors: Lynch Laws in All Its Phases, which led to some minor reforms, although lynchings would continue through the Civil Rights Era.

One of the founding members of the NAACP, Wells advocated for black equality in both law and fact.