Summary Of The New South After Reconstruction

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I believe that in their frustrations with the contradicting promise of the New South, Southern policymakers as well as white Southerners in general began to look towards segregation as a solution to the many of the problems that appeared throughout Southern life after the Reconstruction period. In the book, Ayers provides an intricate summary of the American South after the Reconstruction period but before the beginning of the twentieth century. Ayers goes into detail about every aspect of Southern life during this time period, such as politics, social issues, and the economy, and consequently reveals the difficulties and contradictions found throughout the South during this time period. He notes how publications began to call it the 'New …show more content…

Railroads in particular were the major industry that revolutionized the South economically during this time. Furthermore, modern advertising and merchandising began to appear in Southern society, and many Southerners became quickly addicted to shopping by mail, as Ayers notes in his book. Things looked promising for the ‘New South,’ given the almost non-existent state of the economy in the South immediately following the Civil War. However, there were those who were still bitter about the loss of their old way of life as a result of the Civil War. The Reconstruction Period also added salt to the wound, causing white Southerners to grow bitter and desire to seek power through government. Once white Southerners did seize power in the South, segregation laws began to be …show more content…

Given the frustrations all Southerners were experiencing during the post-Reconstruction era, such as the South’s unbreakable bond to cotton production, they would note how prior to the Civil War and emancipation of slaves, none of these problems existed to the degree they were currently at. As a result, white Southerners sought segregation laws as a way to reestablish the old ways in an effort to rid themselves of these frustrations. It becomes clear that this logic was in fact the logic of policymakers in the South, since the first major segregation laws namely involved railroads, one of the drastic modifiers of Southern life that ushered in new industries and changes to the South. Segregation laws quickly grew on a scale so large that it would be impossible for them to be maintained if there was not a significant amount of support by Southerners to uphold the laws, since every freedman would naturally be opposed to such laws. I also believe that the racist roots of the South allowed segregation to become the norm and to grow on the scale that it did. This is due to the fact that it is quintessential that segregation receive widespread support in order to be upheld for a significant amount of time. It is clear that these segregation laws did receive widespread support since they were in place until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, nearly 100 years after

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