Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Structure of Time: Pike County, Mississippi, 1815-1912

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Structure of Time: Pike County, Mississippi, 1815-1912

Article excerpt

The Structure of Time: Pike County, Mississippi, 1815-1912. By Martin J. Hardeman. Modern American History: The United States since 1865, Vol. 2. (New York and other cities: Peter Lang, c. 1999. Pp. xiv, 168. $43.95, ISBN 0-8204-3885-5.)

The story that Martin J. Hardeman tells in The Structure of Time--despite the analytical sophistication suggested by the book and chapter titles, and despite the intensive research in local newspapers and relevant government documents conducted by the author--primarily unfolds as a simple narrative about an unremarkable place. In the early nineteenth century, as the cotton kingdom extended its reach into Mississippi, the self-sufficient folk of Pike County gave way to commercial farmers. The number of slaves increased with crop production, until slaves comprised nearly 45 percent of the population by 1860. A significant number of Pike County males were convinced that secession and war were preferable to union and took up their muskets to fight on distant battlefields. Those who returned used violence and intimidation to reestablish their political power. Pike County, like the rest of the South, also experienced significant change during the 1880s: railroads and other signposts of the emerging American commercial order appeared, and a new generation of men assumed power through attrition and guile. As Hardeman notes, "their dreams of cotton mills in Magnolia or McComb and frugal agrarian immigrants in the countryside were the stuff of the New South" (p. 98).

The demise of old forms of social and political solidarity within Pike County were signaled by truck farming, an increasingly heterogeneous population, the formation of a middle class, the appearance of a vocal prohibition movement, and an emerging conflict between town and country. …

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