Was there a New South after the Civil War? What elements marked or did not mark the New South?
After the Civil War, the South was in a state of political turmoil, social chaos, and economic decline. Contrary to popular belief, Northerners did not subject Southerners to unethical or inhumane punishment. The time post Civil War was filled with efforts toward reconstructing the South, yet there is the strong question if there even is a New South. Yes, there was somewhat of a New South economically. No, there was not a New South regarding race relations and social hierarchy. In the 1870’s, the South realized the world still looked at them as the ones who wanted slavery. There was a need to project a new image to the world and to stimulate economic development.
Some say the New South began to emerge when federal troops were removed from the South in 1877 and consistently was being reformed well into the twentieth century. A group of Democratic office holders, the Redeemers, were said to have redeemed the South from federal intervention. These leaders came from middle classes, and the majority of them had served the Confederacy. The Redeemers were interested in increasing economic opportunities for Southerners. The most important person in the years of the Redeemers was a newspaperman—the “Spokesman of the New South—a man by the name of Henry W. Grady. Grady was a strong promoter of a “New South”. He made an apology for defending slavery and spoke about how the South had learned its lesson. There was certainly not a New South immediately; there were changes in the South, but nothing to classify it as having a new attitude.
Economically, the South expanded after the Civil War. There was construction of new railroads, as well as reconstruction on railroads, port, and roads, supported by Federal grant money. The South realized they had a need to expand their economy; they could not rely solely on cotton. Cotton was still a major industry in the South after the Civil War, but iron and tobacco became strong competitors. There was an increase in Southern cotton mills. In 1800, there were one hundred and sixty mills; in 1900, there were over four hundred mills. There were, however, racist hiring practices. Very few blacks acquired jobs. This was justified by mill owners because whites suffered in competition with blacks for agricultural jobs. The counterargument may be that they were not jobs, because the blacks were slaves and not paid. Southerners found large coal and iron ore reserves, and thereby had a tremendous growth in iron and steel mills. Eventually though, these mills became controlled by foreign investors and Northerners around 1900. Tobacco was traditionally grown in the South, but factories for processing were not developed until post Civil War in 1900. Outside capitalists also controlled these industries. The Northerners reconstructed the Southern economy—one that they controlled—but did not change much in the South itself,...