The Farmer's Last Frontier: Agriculture, 1860-1897

By Fred A. Shannon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
Land and Labor in the New South

THE WAR AND ITS EFFECTS

BEFORE the close of the nineteenth century, the portion of the country perhaps least affected of all by intersectional migration, immigration, and federal land policy was the conquered South. Even the process of monopolization of Southern public lands, following the close of political reconstruction, did not essentially alter the previous system of huge estates operated by servile labor, interspersed with numerous holdings of yeoman farmers and with the run-down or never valuable tracts of small freeholders and tenants. The principal difference was that a larger proportion of the new monopolistic holdings, than of the old, was in the hands of Northern individuals and companies.1 This, however, was nothing peculiar to the new Southern scene alone.

The Civil War itself was far more than a mere struggle between different labor and social systems. It was, in part, a contest for supremacy between Southern agricultural capitalists and Northern industrial capitalists.2 Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it was an effort on the part of the Southerners to maintain their system, unimpaired and unsubjugated, alongside the younger and

____________________
1
Gates, Federal Land Policy in the South," pp. 319-323.
2
See Louis M[orton] Hacker, The Triumph of American Capitalism ( New York: Simon and Schuster, 1940), pp. 322-373; Charles A[ustin] Beard and Mary R[itter] Beard , The Rise of American Civilization ( New York: The Macmillan Company, 1927), 11, 52-121.

-76-

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