The New South
The New South was a name given to the time period after the Civil War when many sought to change the South from an agricultural economy only, to one that was mixed with a large amount of industrial centers. Whereas the Old South was dependent on slavery and the Confederacy, the New South would be made up of small farms, mills, mines, factories, and large cities. They wanted it to be a real democracy, not one based around a rich planter aristocracy that was dependent on slave labor.
"Lost Cause" - a romanticized view of the former Confederacy as a noble government made up of a distinct way of life that fought against a tyrannical federal government. People that pushed this idea rarely dealt with the question of slavery and the system it created. It also failed to illustrate or show that the South was controlled by a small rich landholding elite that actually caused secession and war.
The textile industry part of the New South's move toward industrialization. Textile mills grew from 161 to 400 in a twenty year span, this also allowed for cotton produced in the South to made into garments within the South. Many farmers left their plows and moved to cities to get jobs in the mills which meant growth of Southern cities. Coal was another industry that grew after the Civil War in the South. The South went from producing five million tons in 1875, to producing 50 tons in 1900. This led to rapid industrial growth in areas like northern Alabama that had large deposits of coal. Lumber became a big Southern industry as well during this time period. Unfortunately, these were about the only areas were the South was able to industrialize which was not enough to bring it out of the extreme poverty that it suffered from.
Southern Poverty & Race
Cotton prices continued to fall well after the Civil War, mainly because farmers kept only producing it and not diversifying and farming other crops such as corn. Many farmers could not pay the loans they had against their farms and lost ownership of them. By 1900, 70% of those farming did not own their own land.
Because there was little cash to be had in the South after the Civil War, a new system of business was created. Farmers would barrow the food, clothing, seed, fertilizer, and other items they needed on "credit" in exchange for a share of their crops when they were harvested, called a lien. Called the crop-lien system, it could be divided into three parts: small farmer owned farms, sharecroppers, and tenants. Sharecroppers were mostly blacks and poor whites, these ppl had only their labor to offer, they owned no land. A landowner would put them up in a house and give them the supplies they needed to produce a crop, in return, the sharecroppers would give the landowner half of the money made from the crop. Tenant farmers, mostly poor whites and some blacks, usually owned the basic items required to put in a crop (mules, tools, and etc.). They had basically everything but had to rent land to farm. Some could pay for their rent in cash, while most had to wait until the crop was out and sold before they could pay the landowner the rent they owed.
The crop lien system was usually self-destructive for the ones farming the land. Since they did not own the land, they were not as concerned with what they planted, many times planting the same crops over and over which depletes the soil of nutrients and will eventually make the land worthless. It also became another form of economic slavery because the sharecroppers and tenants often owed the landowners more money than they made by selling their crops which tied them to the landowner until the money was repaid.
African-Americans in the South
Many Southerners were determined to keep blacks from gaining any political power after the Civil War. In order to get around the 14th and 15th Amendments which gave blacks the legal right to vote, they created a system of tests or payments that had to be passed or paid in order to vote. This was done with the knowledge that most African-Americans would not be able to do so. Mississippi created a series of state constitutional amendments in 1890, called the Mississippi Plan, that set the pattern that other Southern states would follow. It instituted a residence requirement, two years living in the state and one year living in the district, in order to be able to vote. Since most blacks were sharecroppers they often traveled a lot looking for work and did not live in one place very long. Another law they created barred blacks from voting if they had created certain crimes, and another prohibited voting unless the person could show they were current on their taxes and could pay a tax just to vote. Blacks could not meet these requirements because they lacked the money to pay taxes.
During this same time that blacks were being pushed out of the political arena, they were also being segregated in private sectors. It began with railroads in 1885. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld that it was legal to have segregation in private business because it said that the 14th Amendment only specified that "no state" could deny citizens equal protection under law, this did not include private business. Southern states began pushing the idea of "separate but equal." In 1890 that idea was challenged in Louisiana in the Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). Homer Plessy, who was one 1/8 African-American was told to leave a train car because it was a "whites only" car and move to one of the "blacks only" cars. He sued and the Supreme Court ruled that states had a right to create laws segregating public places such as schools, hotels, and restaurants. Plessy v. Ferguson made "separate but equal" a legal system in South that would endure until Roe v. Wade in 1954.
The new regulations created in the South that were used as methods to bar blacks from the political arena and segregated blacks, were called Jim Crow laws. The name came from an old song and dance called, Jump Jim Crow, that portrayed blacks in a child like manner, any racist based laws or rules created from 1890 until the 1960s fell under the name Jim Crow laws.
Not all blacks accepted the system created in the South after the Civil War. Ida B. Wells, born into slavery in 1862, attended a school sponsored by white missionaries after the Civil War and then moved to Memphis where she rose through the social circles to be part of an emerging black middle class. When she was told to leave a white train car, she sued the train company and won, only to have the victory taken away by the Tennessee Supreme Court. She wrote about her account in a newspaper and learned that she liked to write stories that promoted ideas that against segregation and the mistreatment of blacks. In 1892, three of her friends were lynched by a white mob. Lynching was cruel system that was used a method of intimidation by whites against blacks. If a black person was suspected of a crime (real or not), that person was taken by a mobbed and usually hanged or worse. This made the mob the judge, jury, and executioner, specifically forbidden by the Constitution. When she wrote about her anger over the lynching, her life was threatened so she moved to New York City where she started a newspaper and fought for legislation that would eliminate lynchings in the U.S.
Booker T. Washington was born a slave in 1856 in Virginia. He was the son of black mother and white father (the term in the 19th century used to describe a person with mixed race was, mulatto). Washington attended Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, one of a few colleges for African-Americans after the Civil War. There, Washington developed an idea that he preached throughout his life. He believed that the best method to obtain equality was through hard work and economic prosperity. By the age of 25 he was placed in charge of a new black college in Alabama called, Tuskegee Institute. It was here that he taught African-Americans should not focus on fighting racial segregation, but instead work hard and remain silent. He said only through self-improvement would African Americans chip away at social change.
Another African-American leader in the late 19th century, W. E. B. DuBois, would preach the exact opposite of Washington's message. Du Bois disagreed with what he called the "accommodationist" strategy. A native of Massachusetts, he had experienced racial prejudice as a student at Fisk University in Nashville. Later, he became the first African-American to earn a doctoral degree from Harvard majoring in history and sociology. While teaching at Atlanta University in 1897, Du Bois began writing his thoughts against Washington's methods. Du Bois believed that African-Americans must combat racism as much as possible.
Settling of the New West
From 1870 to 1900, more Americans settled more land in the West than they had in the centuries before 1870. By 1900, a third of the nation lived west of the Mississippi River. It became a symbol of economic opportunity and personal freedom. On the negative side, the influx of settlers decimated much of the wildlife and nearly destroyed the Native American population there. Called the "Great American Desert" by some because of the expanse land that appeared to be unfit for settlement, it became a place that Native Americans settled believing they were safe from settlers coming into territories. With the discovery of precious metals such as gold and silver, this proved to be a false idea and soon Native Americans and settlers were at odds with one another. Big business followed settlers into the West to capitalize off of western mines, cattle, railroads, and eventually commercial farms. Many new immigrants traveled west looking for opportunity and many African-Americans traveled west in order to escape the harsh lifestyle of living in the South. Known as exodusters, because they were making an exodus, or exit, from the South, as many as 26,000 migrated to Kansas alone in two years.
As new mining claims were discovered across the West, town sprang up to support the large influx of miners that poured into those areas. Overnight, one had once been a barren desert with little or no human settlement, quickly grew into towns with all of the stores and services found in larger towns. These towns were places of excitement until the local mines went dry, then, as quickly as they were created, they were deserted. These types of places were called boomtowns, places like Tombstone, Arizona and Deadwood, South Dakota became famous as places of gambling and lawlessness.
New discoveries of gold and silver drove settlement in the West. The Comstock Lode was found near Gold Hill, Nevada near the California border. Henry Comstock, a fur trapper, named the town, located on a gold and silver seam that was fifty feet wide and thousands of feet deep, it was the largest seam of gold found up to that point. These rapidly growing towns created the need for territories to become states. States like Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, were all due to the increase of population brought about by mining claims such as the one at Comstock Lode.
The Cattle Boom
After the Civil War when railroads began to spread across the West, certain towns became cities because they were train stations that were happened to popular loading spots for cattle shipped north. These towns were often the first towns many cowboys that had spent weeks on the trail driving cattle had seen. They developed a reputation as wild and sometimes dangerous communities. When cattle would arrive from a cattle drive to be loaded onto railroads for slaughterhouses back east (usually Chicago), the cattle drivers were paid and allowed to go into town and celebrate. One such town was Abilene, Kansas. Abilene was the first cow town. By 1871, more than 700,000 steers passed through it every year. Once other areas saw the business that Abilene did because of the railroad and cattle, other towns in other states began to pop up throughout the West. Towns like Dodge City began as lawless cow towns that made a lot of money each year from the cattle that was driven there.
As beef prices and demand increased, so did the number of ranchers that had large ranches fenced in by newly invented barbed wire. This caused friction among those ranchers who never settled their cattle down in one place, called open-range farming, this method was used because of the vast areas of grassland available. In open-range farming, the owner of the cattle will allow his cows to graze an area for a set period of time before moving them to a new location with more grass. This process is repeated until it is time to take them to the cattle towns to sell. They did not believe in using fenced in ground for cows, preferring instead to let their cattle graze wherever they wanted. This created tension that sometime erupted in bloodshed between the open-range cattlemen and the ranchers that used fences.
The Indians in the American West
The influx of settlers and railroads that moved west soon began to upset the balance of the Native Americans that lived there. 250,000 Native Americans from thousands of different tribes populated areas across the West. From the 1860s into the 1880s, the land west of Missouri was often called "Indian Country" was the home of various conflicts that occurred between the U.S. Army and the Native Americans, called the Indian Wars. Before the Civil War, the primary goal of the U.S. government was to simply protect settlers that moved west, after the Civil War, it began a policy of total relocation of tribes to designated areas known as reservations. Many tribes refused to be moved to reservations and resisted the U.S. government.
Over a period of seven hours, soldiers murdered and mutilated 165 peaceful Indians, many of which consisted of women and children. One company of soldiers present under Captain Silas Soule refused to participate in the attack calling anyone who did, a coward. Chivington lied and said he had fought against 1000 warriors, but when the truth finally came out he resigned to avoid a military court martial. The Sand Creek Massacre as it became known as, inflamed the Indians and created a war that raged for three years against the Cheyenne and Sioux.
Indian Peace Commission
The U.S. government formed the Indian Peace Commission to address the bloodshed between the U.S. and Native Americans. Congress believed it would be best for nomadic Indians to move on government land that was considered out of the way of white settlement. In exchange the Indians would be left alone in peace. In 1870, Indians outnumbered whites in South Dakota two to one, ten years later, whites outnumber Indians six to one. The U.S. government decided to do whatever was necessary to move the Indians onto reservations.
Custer and the Sioux
In the 1870s, gold was discovered in the Black Hills of South Dakota, home of several tribes of Sioux Indians who had already moved from their ancestral hunting grounds in the Northern Plains to the Black Hills. Sioux Indians under chiefs Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse vowed to die fighting rather than of starvation from another forced move onto another reservation. In 1875, Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer, a veteran of the Civil War, led 1,000 soldiers of the 7th Cavalry into the Black Hills. There, he announced the discovery of gold and thus began a mass migration of white and black settlers to South Dakota. After Chief Sitting Bull refused to sell the land to the U.S. government, Custer was sent in to move them back onto reservations and if they resisted, they were to be killed.
Custer embarked to search for the rogue Sioux Indians with 600 soldiers of his 7th Cavalry. Custer had a knack for combat and genuinely enjoyed the thrill of battle, to point of being reckless. He was not modest and believed himself to be one of the most able cavalry officers in the army. His fierceness in battle had earned him a generalship during the Civil War at the young age of twenty-three, something almost never heard of. Custer's war against the Sioux in 1875 and 1876, was the largest military operation since the Civil War. Called, the Great Sioux War, it lasted fifteen months and had fifteen battles that were fought in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska. It determined the fate of the Sioux nation. The culmination of fighting happened in June of 1876 when Custer discovered a large encampment of Sioux and Cheyenne Indians camped along the Little Bighorn River in the southeast corner of the Montana territory.
Fearing the Indians would escape and wanting to get all of the glory for himself, he refused to wait on reinforcements and decided to attack the camp with his small force, which he foolishly divided just before the battle began on June 25, 1876. 2,500 Indians led by Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull soon surrounded Custer's much smaller force of 210 men. After only a half hour of fighting, their ammunition all spent, the battle was over, every man of Custer's 210 men were dead, including himself. Among the dead were two of Custer's brothers, a brother-in-law, and a nephew. After the battle, called the Battle of Little Bighorn, Cheyenne women pierced Custer's eardrums with sewing needles because he failed to listen to their warnings to stay out of their lands. The Sioux and Cheyenne had won their greatest victory but it would be short lived. The death of Custer caused the U.S. Army to send its full weight against the Sioux and Cheyenne. They attacked the Indians all across Montana, killing men, women, and children and burning villages along the way. Eventually the Indians had no option but to return to reservations or face total annihilation. By 1880, most of the western Indians were on reservations.
The Nez Perce
One of the last resisting Native American tribes occurred west of the Rocky Mountains. The Nez Perce, a peaceful band that lived in Idaho, refused to surrender to go to reservations. In 1877, Chief Joseph, leader of the Nez Perce led 650 of his people (mostly women, children, and elderly) on a 1,300 mile journey through Montana in hopes of reaching the border with Canada. In Canada, Indians were allowed to live anywhere they chose as long as they were peaceful. Within sight of the border, US. soldiers caught up with the Nez Perce. They were forced to live on reservations, far from their homes where most would die of malaria.
The Indian Wars finally came to an end with the capture of Geronimo, a powerful chief of the Apaches who had outridden, outwitted, and outfought American forces in the Southwest for fifteen years. The Apaches were known for their ruthless tactics and torture of people they captured. They were known to bury prisoners up to their necks in the desert and leave them to die. They would suspend prisoners in wooden cages and leave them to starve to death or die from the elements. In more than one instance they strapped white families to wagon wheels and burned them alive, all without blinking an eye. He was finally captured only because he turned himself in, he later died on a reservation in Oklahoma.
The final act of violence on a large scale occurred on December 29, 1890, at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, when nervous soldiers fired into a group of Indians who had surrendered. Nearly 200 Indians, men, women, and children, and twenty-five soldiers died at the battle of Wounded Knee. No more violent attacks occurred in the American West between Indians and U.S. soldiers.
Once the Indians were all on reservations, the U.S. government attempted "Americanize" them by forcing them to become self-reliant farmers owning their own plots of land rather than allowing them to be members of nomadic bands or tribes on the reservation. They passed the Dawes Act in 1887 (also known as the General Allotment Act), the most sweeping policy directed toward the Native Americans in U.S. history. Senator Henry Dawes proposed the act which granted 160 acres to each head of a family and lesser amounts to those with no families. The result was that the Indians lost 86 million acres of the 130 million acres originally given to them.
Frederick Jackson Turner, a historian at the University of Wisconsin wrote in his "frontier thesis," in 1893, that only the settlement of the American West explains American development and shaped the American character in many ways. He declared that with the end of the Frontier Era, America closed the first period of its history. He said the West illustrated American democratic principles, open economy, and rugged individualism. It captured the imagination of those who only read about it and stayed in the minds forever of those who helped to conquer it. Once the West was tamed, there were no more frontiers on U.S. soil, this meant that the country would either look outside its borders for frontiers or shift entirely in a new direction in which exploration was not part of the future.