A Community in Search of Itself: A Case History of Cairo, Illinois

By Herman R. Lantz | Go to book overview

7
Failure in process

The major concern of this research has been with the phenomena of community decline and failure, the possible reasons for failure and the impact of failure for citizens of the community. Community decline and failure can be objectively established for Cairo. Using the community's own level of aspiration, the community never did reach the size or significance which its founders, and subsequent inhabitants, aspired to. If one wishes to impose the criteria of minimum economic and social essentials, there were the perennial problems of unemployment and economic frustration compounded by an inadequate local government that could never provide for the needs of its citizens. A special inquiry into occupational mobility for the 1850-89 period for male heads of households helps confirm this point since it reveals very little upward movement.1 War periods in the twentieth century characterized by general economic prosperity elsewhere seemed to result in little benefit for the community.

Thus, in spite of its claims in regard to river and rail transshipment facilities, natural resources, and proximity to a large rural center, the community was never really able to achieve significant growth, nor was it able to attract financially stable industry that would hold its own and continue to grow and expand.

The History is largely one of economic failure and limited development: not failure for a single decade, but failure throughout the major span and history of the community.

-111-

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A Community in Search of Itself: A Case History of Cairo, Illinois
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Tables viii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Purpose and Overview 1
  • 2 - The Early Years 7
  • 3 - River Transshipment and Railroads 20
  • 5 - The Economy of Liquor and Vice 68
  • 6 - Political Development 88
  • 7 - Failure in Process 111
  • 8 - Flooding and Seep Water 132
  • 9 - Power, Dependency, Alienation, And Resignation 146
  • 10 - The Present and the Future 170
  • Notes 181
  • Bibliography 219
  • Index 231
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