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Origins of the New South 1877-1913 (A history of the South) Paperback – Jun 1971

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Product details

  • Paperback: 665 pages
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press; New edition edition (Jun. 1971)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807100196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807100196
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.2 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 911,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Reviews the economic, political, and social evolution of the South from the end of Reconstruction to the beginning of World War I.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 Mar. 1999
Format: Paperback
This work, along with the "Strange Career of Jim Crow" form the basis of much of scholarly study on the south for the last 40 years. Most strikingly, he shows the relationship between economic and poltical reform and the issue of race. Demagougery on the issue of race prevented reform movements liket he POpulists from ever proving relief for improverished farmers. Perhaps the most memorable line is "Progressivism was for white men only." He demonstrates how the same people who put in place reforms such as city manager governments, railraod commissions and other "good government reforms" were also the people who disenfrachised blacks and segregated public facilities. Woodward shows clearly the interrelation between race and class in the south at the end of the 19th century. A must read for any student of U.S. history.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
An influential examination of Southern history 16 Dec. 2004
By MarkK - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In the years after the Civil War, the South faced the challenge of redefining itself. After the initial steps made during Reconstruction, the South eventually embraced the development of a more diversified economy than the cotton-dependent antebellum period. This period is the subject of C. Vann Woodward's classic work, which chronicles the emergence of the region at the end of the 19th century.

Woodward argues that the "New" South constituted a sharp break in Southern history. In the years after Reconstruction, a group of pro-business elites (which Woodward terms "Redeemers") took power in the states of the South. These governments were run frugally, with an eye towards minimizing the tax burden on businessmen and property holders. Their policies in office were designed to maximize the benefits for their class, providing extensive economic breaks for railroads, industries, and insurance companies which succeeded in developing the region's economy. Success came at the expense of educational and social programs, which, starved of funds, failed to provide for the needs of the populace. The result was a region of great poverty, run for the benefit of financiers in the North and a small group of men within the South.

Such iron control was bound to be contested by disadvantaged groups, and Woodward spends several chapters discussing these challenges. The first came during the years immediately after Reconstruction, when the Redeemers struggled for the reins of government with groups seeking social improvements. Reformers won in a few states (most notably in Virginia), but the waning of Northern interest - and with it, federal aid - made theirs a losing struggle. The next challenge came in the 1890s with the rise of Populism, the culmination of the agrarian revolt that began with the Farmers' Alliance movement of the previous decades. While the Populists scored some notable political victories, as Woodward puts it "[i]t was pretty clear by 1892 that the controlling forces in America would be no more reconciled to a Populist South than they had been to a planter-Confederate South or a Carpetbagger-freedman South."

Close on the heels of Populism, however, was Progressivism. Though drawing to some extent on Populism, Progressivism was primarily an urban movement comprised of the middle class, particularly small businessmen. They joined with the remnants of the agrarian protestors to decry the monopolistic economic control of the region by a few (deemed "foreign") capitalist elites. Though the old Redeemer regime succeeded in blunting much of their effort, the Southern progressives did succeed in getting Woodrow Wilson elected to the presidency - the first Southerner to occupy the White House since Andrew Johnson and a powerful symbol of the South's success in returning to the national political scene.

Written over half a century ago, Woodward's book is still the starting point for understanding the modern South, shaping the way we think of the subject as few other books have. Though modified and supplemented by subsequent studies, it still informs how we view the era and how it shaped the country in which we live. As such, it remains indispensable reading for students of American history, as well as those seeking a better understanding of our nation today.
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Landmark view of southern history 29 Mar. 1999
By jdl37@columbia.edu - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This work, along with the "Strange Career of Jim Crow" form the basis of much of scholarly study on the south for the last 40 years. Most strikingly, he shows the relationship between economic and poltical reform and the issue of race. Demagougery on the issue of race prevented reform movements liket he POpulists from ever proving relief for improverished farmers. Perhaps the most memorable line is "Progressivism was for white men only." He demonstrates how the same people who put in place reforms such as city manager governments, railraod commissions and other "good government reforms" were also the people who disenfrachised blacks and segregated public facilities. Woodward shows clearly the interrelation between race and class in the south at the end of the 19th century. A must read for any student of U.S. history.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Still Stands 3 Mar. 2012
By J. Smallridge - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There is no better history of the South in print even 60 years after its publication. What Woodward does is provide a marker for how the region developed and evolved. What struck me about this work is how politically -- from the so-called "Redeemers" to the Populists and then to the Progressives -- the South has changed so little in many ways. The pro-business elites who benefited from Reconstruction ceded some power (not all) to the pro-business elites of the farming communities who then ceded some power (not all) to the pro-business elites of those challenging some of the changes. In many ways, the "Southern Strategy" of the 1960s was not so much a departure as it was a return to an earlier political class.

I also was struck by Woodward's discussion of the poor educational system of the late 1800s (nearly 3 million illiterate individuals), race (although he does this better in "The Strange Career of Jim Crow"), the rivalry between the South and the West, and the vastness of space compared to the Northeast. In each of these areas, Woodward uses readable, illuminating prose to trace the history of a place and people. This is a terrific book, a perfect starting point to understanding the South.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Yes, It's Dated, But It's Still Brilliant 24 Dec. 2013
By Anne Mills - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Classic on the emergence of a new southern economy and social structure in the wake of the Civil War and Reconstruction. The book was written sixty years ago, which means that it is dated in some ways, and some of its underlying attitudes would offensive were they voiced today (though Woodward was definitely a progressive for his time). Nonetheless, this book still has a lot to say about the way the South got the way it was, and says it well.
The South's Response to Reconstruction 24 May 2014
By Fan of Time-Life Books - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In Origins of the New South 1877-1913 (first published in 1951) C. Vann Woodward maintains that the South was more distinctive as a region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries than it had been before the Civil War. Between 1877 and 1913 the South achieved some semblance of political unity and aligned itself with the West in protest of Eastern capitalism and monopolies. The economy, per capita wealth, income, education, standard of living, and religion of the South all set the region apart from the rest of the nation in the years after Reconstruction.

The Civil War and Reconstruction, while removing some of the South's peculiarities, merely aggravated others and gave rise to new ones. Radical Republican intrusions caused the South to react against governmental influence of any kind. Before the Civil War many southerners had served as presidents, speakers of the House of Representatives, and cabinet members. However, after the Civil War there was a shift in the geography of political power. Woodward believes that the very solidarity of the South was one important source of its political impotence. Not only did the South stake all its political fortunes upon the chances of a single party but those of a consistently losing party at that. However, in the presidential election of 1912 the South finally triumphed by the break-up of a solid North. To summarize, Woodward sees southern sectionalism as a political response to the Reconstruction era of 1865-1877. Furthermore, the South became more unified and distinctive as a region as a result of the southern reaction to Reconstruction.
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