⌛ Southern Mississippi Foundation Case Study

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Southern Mississippi Foundation Case Study



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Weyher, Jr. After the Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawed school segregation, Draper began quietly funding efforts to fight subsequent civil rights legislation. While the Pioneer Fund was privately operating in the political realm, its main project was to support the work of academics who focused on the intersection of race, genetics and public policy. Many of the main purveyors of racism in America were not men in hoods or mobs of angry Southerners blocking the entrances to schools, but well-educated professionals who were the epitome of middle-class respectability. One of those men was Stanford professor William Shockley , who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in for his work on the transistor only to later become an ardent and outspoken eugenicist.

Shockley also made his own public policy proposals. His main target was welfare programs, which had grown in the s thanks to a movement — led predominantly by black women — to organize the urban poor around the issues of public assistance. But their progress also brought increased scrutiny, especially toward black female welfare recipients. These women, Shockley insisted, were having too many children and burdening society with an increasing number of genetically undesirable individuals. Other Pioneer recipients, like Johns Hopkins University sociology professor Robert Gordon, supported similar policies well into the s. I think it's right to give them the proper information in order for them to do that.

Two of the men who would eventually serve as presidents of the Pioneer Fund produced some of its most outlandish research. Psychologist J. This means that incompetent societies have to be allowed to go to the wall… What is called for here is not genocide, the killing off of the populations of incompetent cultures. The Pioneer Fund also bankrolled Mankind Quarterly, a pseudo-academic journal established by anthropologists in to promote studies exploring racial dissimilarities. Its founders included a proponent of South African apartheid, a Columbia professor who defended segregation in expert testimony for Brown v. Board of Education and a pro-Mussolini Italian eugenicist.

Mankind Quarterly took eugenicist thinking and flavored it with academic jargon to provide a veneer of legitimacy. The publication of political scientist Charles Murray and psychologist Richard J. The nearly 1,page tome — built on the scholarship of race scientists supported by the Pioneer Fund — introduced the broader public to the ideas circulating in racist academic circles. And, because they presented their work as mainstream scientific consensus, the book lent white supremacists a hand in their quest to change the way Americans discussed the issue of race.

In The Bell Curve, Herrnstein, a Harvard professor who first broached the issue of race and IQ in a article in The Atlantic , teamed up with Murray, a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, to examine racial and social stratification in America. Who made up this underclass? The unemployed, welfare dependents, and, most controversially, African Americans who, due to a mix of genetic and environmental factors, had an average IQ 15 points lower than that of whites, the authors claimed.

All of this rested on scientifically questionable research. It was thus, unsurprisingly, welcomed warmly by academic racists. Scholarly reviews of The Bell Curve were overwhelmingly negative. Critics noted that the book failed to mention the contextual factors that contributed to the growing ranks of the black underclass, including deindustrialization and the flight of jobs from American cities, the quality of education and the lack of wealth and resources black parents could pass on to their children.

Despite its negative reception among scholars, The Bell Curve had enormous political implications. At the time of its publication, reforming the welfare system had become a top priority for lawmakers across the political spectrum — a movement to which Murray himself provided fuel. His earlier work, the book Losing Ground: American Social Policy, argued that the welfare state bred dependency and crime and, in fact, harmed the poor by disincentivizing work. If you pay people not to work, he insisted, they will logically elect to stay unemployed and draw on as many benefits as are available.

This belief was also reflected in the policy recommendations made in The Bell Curve. Murray provided ideological underpinnings for welfare reform and helped elevate eugenicist thought into the world of mainstream political debate. Members of the movement saw it as a legitimation of their long-held ideas. Murray also received praise from American Renaissance AR , a publication and website supported by the self-styled think tank the New Century Foundation.

Taylor founded American Renaissance and the New Century Foundation in , two years before the Yale-educated writer began to make a name for himself in conservative circles with the publication of his book Paved with Good Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in Contemporary America. At the time, conservative consensus assumed that the problems plaguing many black communities in American stemmed from a dysfunctional black culture , but Taylor echoed the biological frame by placing the blame squarely on black people themselves. As a result, African Americans engaged in reckless sexual behavior, had unstable relationships, committed more crimes and had lower credit scores. The lesson? When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western Civilization—any kind of civilization—disappears.

He nevertheless defended his original conclusions, insisting that the chaos he described easily could have taken place. But perhaps no other American Renaissance contributor and conference mainstay more fully explored the issue of race and criminality than Michael Levin , a philosophy professor at City University of New York since In , with the financial support of the Pioneer Fund, Levin published Why Race Matters , a treatise against government efforts to remedy racial inequality. Philippe Rushton. The book sold poorly in its first printing, but Taylor swooped in to improve its sales, republishing it in It was, however, an unwieldy volume for the average reader to wade through.

To reach a wider audience, Taylor produced The Color of Crime: Race, Crime and Violence in America, a brief report that relied on a sloppy interpretation of crime statistics linking race and IQ, and thus claiming that crime has a racial and biological basis. It purported to provide indisputable proof that not only did black people commit more crimes, but also that there was an epidemic of black-on-white violent crime that went unreported. By taking crime statistics at face value, Taylor made the same mistake Frederick Hoffman did in blaming higher rates of black crime on an innate black criminality, when in fact those disproportionate crime rates could be explained by poverty and related structural disadvantages.

On average, African Americans were — and remain — far poorer and more likely to live in disadvantaged neighborhoods than whites. One study, released three years before The Color of Crime , found that when sociologists controlled for structural disadvantages, there were no significant differences between crime rates in black and white communities. A Bureau of Justice Statistics study showed that persons from poor households experienced the highest rates of violent victimization, and that rates were consistent for both blacks and whites. While Taylor suggested interracial crime was a rampant problem , the vast majority of violent crimes are intraracial, meaning victims and perpetrators are far likelier to be of the same race.

As the force of American arms gradually "quieted" Indian title to the land, the uprooted Creeks, Cherokees, Kaskaskias, Shawnecs, and others migrated westward to an inhospitable welcome on the lands of the Sioux and Chippewas, who resented their presence. When war broke out between the United States and Great Britain in , an aggressive Tennessee militia commander named Andrew Jackson warred against the Indians in the southeast while waiting to check any British campaign in the region.

In the now General Jackson and an army of militia invaded Spanish Florida, a haven for the Creeks and Seminoles who threatened the security of American settlers in Georgia. After burning Indian villages and hanging several Indian chiefs, Jackson took it upon himself to march on Pensacola, oust the Spanish territorial governor, and claimed the territory for the United States. The outraged Spanish government, hamstrung by unrest at home and rebellion in Latin America, could muster only a weak diplomatic response and soon after agreed to cede Florida to the United States through the Adams-Onis Treaty, which also established the boundary between the United States and Mexico all the way to the Pacific Josephy and Nabokov In the southeast, the federal government, which had little sympathy for the Indian culture, offered Indian tribes the choice of assimilation, of adopting the ways of white society and changing from a hunting and farming economy to one of settled agriculture, or of moving west.

To the consternation of land hungry settlers, many of the Indians preferred acculturation to abandoning their ancestral lands White and Josephy The most acculturated of the southeastern Indians were the Cherokee. At the outset of the 19th century, the Cherokee occupied vast tracts of land in Georgia, Tennessee, and the western Carolinas. In the Cherokee conceived a written legal code exhibiting elements of common and Indian law, and in missionaries opened a boarding school for Cherokee youth near present-day Chattanooga and began baptizing students into the Christian faith.

By the Cherokee nation had adopted a written constitution similar to those of nearby states, with executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, and were publishing a tribal newspaper. Increasingly Cherokees abandoned community settlements to establish individual farmsteads, and many of those who undertook the cultivation of cotton became slaveholders.

Though the Cherokee, and to a lesser extent the other Indians of the so-called five "civilized tribes" the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, and Creek , embraced many of the ways of the white America, the Indians, who were bound to the land by centuries of discovery and settlement, were soon to be ousted from their lands with the ascendancy of Andrew Jackson to the presidency in White and Josephy Georgia, denied the injunction, because Indian tribes were dependent nations who could not sue in United States courts, but declared that only the federal government had sovereignty over the Indians and the disposition of their lands.

A year later, in the case of Worcester v. Georgia, the Chief Justice ruled that the Cherokee nation was an autonomous political entity over which the state of Georgia had no claim without Cherokee consent by law or treaty. When the states of Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee soon after extended the sovereignty of their laws over the Indian nations within their borders,. In each nation there came to be those who saw removal as inevitable. Some viewed it as a way of escaping whites; some saw personal or factional gain in cooperation; some simply resigned themselves to obtaining the best price they could.

The most blatantly fraudulent of all was the New Echota Treaty of with the Cherokees. Negotiated with the Ridge group, who represented only a small fraction of the nation, it was, as the Cherokee national council said, "a fraud upon the Cherokee people" White Many of the Cherokees refused to leave their eastern lands, however, and in and the United States Army simply rounded-up the vast majority of Cherokees and herded them west to "Indian Territory" of present-day Oklahoma Eyewitness accounts later melded into one narrative told both of the suddenness with which the Indians were seized and the resigned dignity with which many accepted their fate:.

Families at dinner were startled by the sudden gleam of bayonets in the doorway and rose up to be driven with blows amid oaths along the trail that led to the stockade. Men were seized in their fields or going along the road, women were taken from their [spinning] wheels and children from their play…. To prevent escape the soldiers had been ordered to approach and surround each house, as far as possible, so as to come upon the occupants without warning. One old patriarch when thus surprised calmly called his children and grandchildren around him, and kneeling down bid them pray with him in their own language, while the astonished soldiers looked on in silence.

Then rising he led the way into exile. A woman, on finding the house surrounded, went to the door and called up the chickens to be fed for the last time, after which taking her infant on her back and her other children by the hand, she followed her husband with the soldiers White Remembered by the Cherokees as the Trail of Tears the road they traveled was the "road they cried" , the forced resettlement brought death to an estimated one-quarter of the approximately 16, who began the trek westward, due primarily to rampant disease and the scarcity of food and water. Though the Cherokees endured perhaps the most tragic of the Indian resettlements, from the —ls the majority of Indians east of the Mississippi River were relocated to the West.

Only remnants of the fragmented tribes endured in the Southeast, e. Millions of acres of former Indian land throughout the Southeast was opened to white occupation, which helped fuel the coming economic expansion of the nation. In the Indian Territory the relocated Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Seminoles, and Creeks began to rebuild their societies amidst the challenges of the new world. The Indian Appropriation Act of recognized as reservations the lands upon which the southeastern tribes were forcibly resettled; yet, the promises of inviolable western lands would, like the promises before, be broken White , Josephy , and Nabokov Inspired in part by the impulse of humanitarian reform, such as the popular writings of Helen Hunt Jackson, who depicted the injustices and cruelties inflicted upon Indians in A Century of Dishonor and Ramona , but more so by the pressing need to satisfy the land hunger of Western settlers, Congress in passed the Dawes Severalty, or General Allotment, Act.

To assimilate Indians into mainstream American society, the Dawes Act provided each family head who agreed to abandon their tribal culture acres of reservation land to cultivate and the prospect of full citizenship in the United States after a probationary period of 25 years. Surplus acres, of which there were millions, would be bought from the Indians by the United States and opened to settlement the land rush of into the Indian Territory resulted in the formation of the state of Oklahoma.

The land allotted the Indians, however, was often the least fertile and their unfamiliarity with the legal concept of holding land in severalty, possessing individual allotments of land in fee simple title, left many vulnerable to the chicanery of land hungry settlers. But not until the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act of did the nearly half-century of coerced assimilation end. The Indian Reorganization Act, the first formulated policy that solicited the input of Indians, reversed the practice of land allotment, recognized the principle of tribal ownership of reservation lands, and established the tribes as "dependent domestic nations" that exist on a government-to-government basis with both the states and the federal government, the foundation of Indian sovereignty today.

Nearly two decades later federal Indian policy briefly reversed course and once again endorsed assimilation, as Congress in implemented a "termination" policy to end tribal autonomy and offered subsidies to those Indian families that left the reservations and relocated in cites. The political activism of the National Congress of American Indians, organized in , compelled the Eisenhower administration to suspend the policy in and reaffirm for Indians the principles of self-government and self-determination, but it was not until that President Richard Nixon officially repudiated the termination policy Deloria Yet, the identity of perhaps the least-known Americans, the Indians, still resonates with the reality of how the Americans who were here first were displaced and subjugated by the those who came later to penetrate the wilderness and link the continent.

The notorious trans-Atlantic slave trade, which reached its peak during the 18th and early 19th centuries, dispersed millions of Africans throughout the Western Hemisphere. The first Africans arrived in colonial North America at Jamestown, Virginia in and scholars contend that British colonists initially recognized them as indentured servants. Their status, however, changed in when the Massachusetts colony sanctioned the enslavement of African laborers.

Similarly, Maryland and Virginia authorized legal servitude in , and by all 13 colonies had legally recognized chattel slavery NPS a. Due to diverse climates and geographic conditions, legal bondage varied in colonial North America. In the North, most Africans labored on small farms. Those who lived in cities worked as personal servants or were hired out as domestics and skilled workers. Although northern colonists had little use for slave labor, they accumulated substantial profits from the lucrative slave trading industry.

Conversely, southern colonies grew quite dependent on human bondage. Southern landowners often purchased African laborers for their tobacco, sugar, cotton, rice, and indigo plantations. By the late 18th century, slave labor became increasingly vital to the southern economy and the demand for African workers contributed greatly to the steady increase of their population. This growth in population and the threat of insurrections induced colonial legislatures to pass legal codes that restricted the movement of enslaved Africans.

While white colonists petitioned for independence from Great Britain, antislavery advocates also demanded human rights and liberty for all people, including slaves NPS a. Shortly after the War of Independence, calls to abolish slavery and the slave trade generated increasingly widespread support. Led by Quakers and liberated African-Americans, the antislavery movement swayed some northern state legislatures to grant immediate manumissions to soldier-slaves and gradual emancipation to other enslaved Africans.

Northern slaveholders allowed some bondsmen to purchase their freedom, while others petitioned for liberation through the courts. Slavery remained a vital element of southern society, however, and any opportunity to eliminate the institution nationwide ended in when the United States Constitution permitted the slave trade to continue until and protected involuntary servitude where it then existed NPS a. The emergence of the cotton gin in revolutionized the production of cotton, further solidifying the institution of slavery in the South. Increased cotton production necessitated an increase in slaves to work the fields, where men and women often toiled side-by-side, and the African-American population in the South also rose from approximately , in to nearly 4 million by Emancipated in at the age of 11, Johnson was apprenticed to a free black barber.

Johnson went into business on his own in , and was successful enough by the mids to take advantage of varied business opportunities. He operated three barbershops in Natchez, where he employed free blacks and slaves, and he owned farmland cultivated by slaves and white overseers NPS Slaves endured the worst aspects of slavery through the strength of their social and cultural ties. A distinctive black culture arose, which provided meaning to life and transmitted values, attitudes, and beliefs throughout the slave community. Yet, the yearning for freedom was ever strong, as James L. Bradley succinctly stated in in his autobiography:. From the time I was fourteen years old, I used to think a great deal about freedom. Many a sleepless night I have spent in tears, because I was a slave.

My heart ached to feel within me the life of liberty NPS a. The brutality of slavery and the desire for personal freedom inspired many slaves to rebel against their conditions. Slave rebellions in the South, the most dramatic form of resistance, were few and unsuccessful, due to the control slave owners exerted over their slaves. The most prominent slave rebellion in the lower Delta region occurred near Baton Rouge in Four to five hundred slaves, led by the free mulatto Charles Dislondes, sent whites fleeing to New Orleans from the parishes of St.

Charles and St. John until the slaves were routed by a contingent of U. Army regulars and militiamen. Over 60 slaves were killed during the rebellion, and those captured were beheaded, with their heads placed atop pikes on the road to New Orleans as a warning to other would-be rebels Stewart Slaves more commonly used flight as a form of resistance. Some slaves escaped and took refuge with Indians, who often welcomed the runaways as members of their communities.

Others fled into unclaimed or secluded territories, e. Still others fled northward or to Mexico and the Caribbean, often receiving food, shelter, and money along the way from a movement known collectively as the "Underground Railroad. At mid-century, the United States Congress attempted to reconcile sectional differences by passing the Compromise of , which included a Fugitive Slave Law. In addition to legislating the return of runaway slaves, the act proclaimed that federal and state officials as well as private citizens must assist in their capture. As a result, northern states were no longer considered safe havens for runaways and the law even jeopardized the status of freedmen. While the Civil War captured the attention of the country, thousands of once enslaved African-Americans deserted southern plantations and cities and took refuge behind Union lines.

With the assistance of more than , African-American soldiers and spies, the Union secured victory over the Confederacy in Others undertook sharecropping, striving to own the land they farmed. Sharecropping gradually stabilized labor relations in the cash poor South after the Civil War; however, sharecropping also preserved a semblance of the plantation system and its associated patterns of antebellum agriculture. Under sharecropping, land was divided into many small holdings, giving the illusion of small independent farms. But many small holdings together actually comprised single plantations, which, through foreclosures, gradually fell into the hands of creditors, who were white. Over the succeeding half-century, the old planter caste was simply replaced by a new class of large landowners NPS and Kulikoff What limited political and social gains African-Americans experienced during Reconstruction were quickly overturned during the succeeding decades.

Every Supreme Court decision affecting African-Americans before the turn-of-the century furthered white supremacy. Ferguson , legitimized the "Jim Crow" era of segregation in the South. The Plessv decision upheld the constitutionality of a Louisiana statute requiring AfricanAmericans and whites to ride in separate railroad cars, but was soon zealously applied to public facilities of all kinds and entire city blocks of housing, though the equality of separate African-American facilities was, more often than not, questionable Stewart , Garraty , and Levinson One response to such political, economic, and social oppression was emigration.

Though some African-Americans were drawn to the African recolonization movement, far more opted for the western and northern regions of the United States. In over 20, African-Americans migrated from southern states to Kansas and other plains states. These "Exodusters" farmed homestead lands and founded a number of small communities. A similar migration occurred after World War 11 Foner and Garraty The landowners responded with terrorism and union members were flogged, jailed, shot, and some were killed. The wife of a sharecropper from Marked Tree wrote:. We Garded our House and been on the scout untill we are Ware out, and Havenent any law to looks to, thay and the Land Lords hast all turned to nite Riding…thay shat up some House and have Threten our Union and Wont let us Meet at the Hall at all Leuchtenburg In additional to staging a successful cotton strike in , the STFU maintained refuges for tenant farmers who were evicted for striking.

The union also organized a farming cooperative, the Providence Farm, in Homes County, Mississippi, and later opened a second cooperative, the Hillhouse Farm, in nearby Cahoma County, where the first use of a mechanical cotton picker occurred. The lynching of a year-old African-American youth, Emmett Till, in Money, Mississippi, focused national attention upon the virulent racism of the South. Eisenhower — who had initially urged caution in implementing the Brown decision because he did not believe the hearts of men could be changed by law — sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, in the fall of to ensure the safety of nine African-American children enrolled at Central High School.

Martin Luther King, Jr. President John F. Kennedy sent troops to the University of Mississippi in the fall of to protect an African-American student, James Meredith, who had been enrolled by order of a Federal court. The August 28, , march on Washington D. The increasing tempo of far-reaching change continued during the presidential administration of Lyndon B. In June the Supreme Court, in a decision many believed to be of equal importance with the school desegregation ruling 10 years earlier, declared that both houses of state legislatures must be apportioned on a population basis to ensure that citizens are accorded the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law, ending the rural domination of many state Senates.

The new act enlarged federal power to protect voting rights, to provide open access for all to public facilities, to sue to end lagging school desegregation, and to ensure equal job opportunities in businesses and unions with more than 25 persons. In promoting the Civil Rights Act in his first state of the Union message earlier in the year, President Johnson said, "Unfortunately, many Americans live on the outskirts of hope, some because of their poverty and some because of their color, and all to many because of both. Resistance to the gains in civil rights for Africa-Americans was formidable. Force and intimidation dating from the previous century, in defiance of the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution, sustained the system of racial segregation until the civil rights acts of the s.

In over African-Americans were killed by white supremists in Grant Parish, Louisiana, the result of a disputed election, in what has been called "…the worst incident of mass racial violence in the Reconstruction period Stewart ; Galmon The Ku Klux Klan KKK , which was founded by former Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forest in Pulaski, Tennessee, in , and other similar groups, such as the Knights of the White Camelia and the Boys of 76, roamed the countryside, hooded or otherwise, terrorizing African-Americans and their supporters in the name of white supremacy.

Over succeeding decades, the KKK underwent sporadic surges of popularity, as during the s when the organization added anti-immigrant and anti-Semitism to its litany of hate. The first meeting of a White Citizens Council, whose members considered themselves to be more respectable than those of the KKK but who were just as adamantly opposed to integration, occurred in Indianola, Mississippi in July. The murders of three civil rights volunteers workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi in June, increased public support for the growing racial equality movement Stewart ; Carson ; Trelease Such tragedies also strengthened the resolve of AfricanAmericans in their quest for racial equality, as civil rights leader Stokely Carmichael noted:.

Other examples further set the tone of those tumultuous s civil tights struggles. Throughout the summer of the same year, Freedom Schools staffed by northerners enrolled thousands of young African-Americans and voter registration drives during the summer, which was known as Freedom Summer, brought many disfranchised African-Americans to the ballot box for the first time Stewart ; Carson ; Foner and Garraty A Mississippi sheriff objected to the presence of civilrights workers from the North, however, whom he looked upon as busybodies and interlopers, declaring: "Ninety-five per cent of our blacks are happy.

One wrote:. The white folks over us every way Current The failure of many Southern states to enforce the voting registration provisions of the Civil Rights Act resulted in an upsweep of civil rights demonstrations, of which one of the most notable occurred in Alabama. In February King and over other African-Americans were arrested in Selma, and a month later Alabama state troopers frustrated an attempted civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital. On March 20 President Johnson ordered the Alabama National Guard to protect the marchers, after Governor George Wallace earlier refused to protect them, and a procession of approximately 25, African-Americans and whites from all over the country began Stewart In response, Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act, signed by President Johnson on August 6, , which suspended all voter registration literacy tests.

In addition, the act empowered federal examiners to register all who qualified age, residence, and objective educational requirements. The act also authorized the Attorney General to file suits testing the constitutionality of poll taxes in states where it survived. In April, the last poll tax, in Mississippi, was overturned Stewart ; Carson The civil rights movement thus came to full bloom in the I s, though AfricanAmericans as recently as worked and marched to bring racially based injustices to an end in Cairo, Illinois, chronicled by Preston Ewing, Jr. The valiant civil rights struggles are memorialized in communities throughout the delta region, such as in the county administration building of Port Gibson, Mississippi.

The Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. King as well as to others involved in the ss civil rights movement. Few groups of people have had more impact on the cultural heritage of the lower Mississippi River delta than its African-American citizens. From Missouri to Louisiana the legacy of black contributions to delta history and culture can he found in the character and lay of the land, the communities and heritage.

Particularly in the South, extant evidence of African-American labor, both enslaved and free, can be seen everywhere, from the construction of early levees, to the endless fields of cotton and sugar cane, to the antebellum mansions of Louisiana and Mississippi. The Mississippi River first served the Delta region as a transportation corridor for Indians who used dugouts and canoes to conduct trade and travel up and down the liver. Trappers and hunters then brought the European fur trade to the Delta in the late s. The Delta region supplied naval stores such as timber, tar, pitch, and other raw materials to the European colonial powers.

Europeans, primarily the Spanish and French, and later the Americans, followed their lead and used the river for moving people and goods. By the s, New Orleans was rapidly developing as a center of international commerce. Keelboats, rafts, canoes, and other assorted craft made their way to Natchez and New Orleans from the north. Former Kentuckian Abraham Lincoln developed his first impressions of slavery when he made a flatboat trip to New Orleans in the late s.

New Orleans became an early center for small craft construction, and even more importantly the point of transfer between small rivercraft and oceangoing ships. The steamboat era dramatically transformed the Delta region. The next year this vessel entered upon a profitable career of fairly regular service between New Orleans and Natchez. Although the War of delayed the proliferation of steamboats on the Mississippi River, soon after they carried far more cargo on the river than all the flatboats, barges, and other primitive craft combined. People living along the river often sold firewood and other necessities to the steamboats and much of the labor employed cutting wood was provided by slaves.

As scores of steamboats churned upstream from New Orleans, the goods they transported helped tic the southern and western reaches of the United States to the East, in outlook as well as in economic practice. Besides traveling up and down the Mississippi, people began crossing the river on ferries for jobs and trade opportunities in the early 19th century. During the 1 s, riverboat gambling developed and such communities as Cairo, Illinois; Hickman, Kentucky; and Helena, Arkansas, sprang up along the river. Other, more established towns and cities along the river also grew as a result of the steamboat era, such as Ste.

Starting in the s, the introduction of railroads promoted major changes in the way Americans transported products and people, in turn dictating the success or failure of numerous town and cities throughout the Delta region. Several railroads reached the Mississippi River before the Civil War, many more after. Larger river towns reacted by building bridges to attract the rail networks. In , Eads Bridge in St. Louis was the first bridge erected over the Mississippi.

Old river-based towns such as Hickman, Helena, and Cairo, among others, declined in the late 19th century, while the towns that could attract the railroads to cross the Mississippi boomed. As a promoter of economic change the Mississippi River has rebounded in the 20th century to regain an important role as the transportation backbone of the lower Mississippi Delta region. Powerful tugs that propel large barges are the direct heirs of steamboats, even as thousands of visitors cruise the river on modem recreated steamboats. The barge fleets ship vast amounts of oil-based products, construction materials, and farm products up and down the river. The lower Mississippi River Delta also has a parallel and bisecting system of federally funded interstate highways used by huge trucks to transport goods throughout the region.

No community smaller than 50, residents is located more than a few miles from this highway grid. In addition, the Delta states made huge investments in highways during the post World War H decades, to link communities and improve farm to market roads, and major highway improvement programs continue to this date throughout the Delta region. For over two centuries, agriculture has been the mainstay of the Delta economy.

Sugar cane and rice were introduced to the region from the Caribbean in the 18th century. Sugar production was centered in southern Louisiana, along with rice, and later in the Arkansas Delta. Early agriculture also included limited tobacco production in the Natchez area and indigo in lower Mississippi. What began as back bending land clearing by yeoman farmers supported by their extensive families, quickly developed into a labor intensive plantation system based initially on Native American and later on African slave labor in the 18th century.

Though cotton planters believed that the alluvial soils of the Mississippi Delta region would always renew, the agricultural boom from the 1 s to the late 1 s caused extensive soil exhaustion and erosion. Yet, lacking agricultural research, planters continued to raise cotton the same way after the Civil War. Following the Civil War, sharecropping and tenant farming replaced the slave-dependent, labor intensive plantation system. Sharecropping was a system of social and racial control used by post-Civil War plantation owners often merchants, bankers, and industrialists. This labor system inhibited the use of progressive agricultural techniques. In the late 19th century, the clearing and drainage of wetlands, especially in Arkansas and the Missouri "Bootheel," increased lands available for tenant farming and sharecropping.

Lower Delta agriculture evolved during the 20th century into large farms owned by nonresident corporate entities. These heavily mechanized, low labor, and capital-intensive farm entities, consisting of hundreds and thousands of acres, produce market-driven crops such as cotton, sugar, rice, and soybeans. During the Great Depression of the 30s thousands of tenant farmers and sharecroppers lost their agrarian-based employment. Kelly Bennett October 8, October 7, October 7, October 7, Steven Gagliano October 7, October 7, October 7, Steven Gagliano October 7, Kelly Bennett October 7, October 7, October 5, Steven Gagliano October 5, October 4, October 4, Andi Davis October 4, October 4, Load more posts.

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