After the War Between the States, the South became an internal resource colony of the victorious East and was mired in poverty for the next 75 years. The second colonial era only came to an end as a result of federal spending during the mobilization for the Second World War.
The following excerpt comes from Numan V. Bartley’s book The New South, 1945-1980: The Story of the South’s Modernization:
“Even if significant numbers of businessmen, managers, professionals, and skilled workers reached a standard of living that did not marketdly from that of persons in the same occupations elsewhere in the nation, the South ranked among the poorest regions in the Western world.”
God bless, Abraham Lincoln!
After killing 1 out of every 4 White Southern men between the ages of 20 and 45, he made the South one of the poorest places in the Western world for generations!
“Reactionary American whites, as always, won’t give up their power unless it’s taken from them….Liberals need to be as Lincolnesque as possible in this endeavor, but we also need to be Lincolnesque in our commitment to winning America’s latest race war.” https://t.co/OHl2e9E8a2 pic.twitter.com/HoWPlkYPG3— Kevin Drum (@kdrum) July 16, 2019
I bow to nobody in my admiration of Abe Lincoln, but he really doesn’t get enough criticism for picking Andrew Johnson as his Vice President *and then* ignoring his Cabinet’s advice not to go to the theater.— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) July 16, 2019
Congrats on your new Lincoln book, @RichLowry. Lincoln understood the morality of economic freedom, which honors the dignity of all.— Paul Ryan (@PRyan) June 11, 2013
“As the cause is new, so we must think anew & act anew.” Abraham Lincoln— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 4, 2019
21st century America needs a conservatism that isn’t just about the size of govt & GDP. But also about conserving & promoting family,community,faith,love of country & dignified work https://t.co/VTOSYIDFVN
What was the result of “the morality of economic freedom” that Abraham Lincoln understood in the South? We’ve already seen how it led to pellagra.
“The Roosevelt administration’s Report on Economic Conditions of the South identified the central problem as the region’s position as an economic colony of the Northeast. The South produced low-cost raw materials for northern industry while providing a market, albeit a limited one, for high-value manufactured goods. Absentee ownership of southern transportation and industry drained profits away from the region and produced the discriminatory freight rates and basing-point policies that limited southern development. Outside control of capital and credit contributed to high interest rates and further retarded progress. The report also traced the South’s difficulties to its staple-crop economy and its concentrated land ownership – both closely associated with plantation agriculture – but saw those factors as secondary to the dependence that economic colonialism inflicted.
The report joined an expanding body of research that ascribed the region’s economic woes to outside forces. “The effect is to keep the South poor,” one study reported in 1940, “and to put the people at the mercy of an impersonal outside economic power.” Economically as well as socially and politically, the southern scene was dismal, any number of critics reported, and absentee domination sharply circumscribed the potential for improvement.”
The system should sound familiar.
It was the same relationship that Ireland and India had with Britain.
Southern history can be neatly divided into two periods: the traditional South from the beginning in 1607 in Jamestown through the War Between the States and the New South down until 1940. The origins of the modern South which is our world trace back to the Second World War:
“To-day as for years past,” a liberal southern critic of the status quo stated in 1940, “the South remains a single-crop, plantation economy,” and indeed the great cotton belt that stretched through ten states from North Carolina to Texas was one of the world’s most specialized agricultural zones. Two-thirds of the southern population lived on the land or in hamlets of fewer than 2,500, and well over one-third of the work force and an even higher proportion of the population drew their livelihoods from agriculture. As Leonard Reissman has observed, “Prior to 1940 the South could fairly be described, with one or two states excepted, as a predominantly rural region here and there dotted with cities.”
As hard as it is to believe now, 2 out of 3 Southerners lived in rural areas and hamlets of less than 2,500 people in 1940. Most of the rest lived in our small towns. Even if we were an impoverished backwater, we still had a homogeneous culture and a strong sense of ethnic identity.
The Second World War changed everything:
“The feverish activity reoriented the southern economy. Throughout the war, the South, as historian George B. Tindall has pointed out, “remained more campground than arsenal.” The region in 1940 contained 27 percent of the nation’s people and 28 percent of its land area, but it received only 17.5 percent of the nation’s investment in wartime industrial development. That percentage nevertheless represented some $4.5 billion, most of it provided by the federal government. The national government thus delivered the means to mobilize an agricultural economy for war production both by supplying the capital for plant construction and by constituting an insatiable military market for the output of the federally sponsored factories. In the underdeveloped and capital-starved southern economy, the federal largess had formidable consequences …
A somewhat greater infusion of funds – about $4.75 billion – went into military installations and related housing. The South was the great training ground for the nation’s military forces. As a result of the proliferation of military bases and other public projects, government payrolls in 1944 accounted for some 25 percent of salaries and wages in the region …
From 1940 to 1945, approximately one-quarter of the region’s farm population – some four million people – left the land. As historian Pete Daniel has observed, “The armed forces and defense work became the resettlement administration for rural southerners.”
It wasn’t the “free-market” that created the Sunbelt.
It was socialism in the form of a sustained wave of government spending during the New Deal, Second World War and Cold War which industrialized and urbanized the South between 1940 and 1960. The injection of capital from the federal government which after FDR was controlled by the Democrats and the dismantling of the system put in place by the Republicans after the War Between the States revived the comatose Southern economy and created the Southern middle class.
The story of the last 75 years of Southern history is how that homogeneous culture which was created in the long stretch of time between the War Between the States and the Second World War has been systematically dismantled from above and the bitterness it has aroused in the public. No one here voted for mass immigration. No one voted for abortion. No one voted for gay marriage. We didn’t vote for the Civil Rights Movement either or for feminism or most recently for transgenderism.
Science and technology have advanced. We have become wealthier than our ancestors. And yet, it feels like our culture has paid a heavy price for it. It even feels unbearable.
Note: The creation of the Southern middle class by the New Deal coalition had unanticipated consequences. It created a space for a revival of conservatism and the Republican Party in the South.