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Origins of the New South, 1877--1913: A History of the South Hardcover – January 1, 1951

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About the Author

C. Vann Woodward (1908-1999) was Sterling Professor of History at Yale University. A native of Arkansas, he earned his undergraduate degree at Emory University. He held M.A. degrees from Columbia University and Oxford University and the Ph.D. degree from the University of North Carolina. He served as president of the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the Southern Historical Association. He won the Bancroft Prize for this book in 1952 and the Sydnor Award for The Burden of Southern History in 1962. He was a recipient of the National Institute of Arts and Letters Literary Award in 1954. Among his other books are Tom Watson: Agrarian Rebel, The Strange Career of Jim Crow, and Reunion and Reaction.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: History of the South
  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Lsu Press; Revised edition (January 1, 1951)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807100099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807100097
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,671,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful By MarkK VINE VOICE on December 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
In the years after the Civil War, the South faced the challenge of redefining itself. After the initial steps made during Reconstruction, the South eventually embraced the development of a more diversified economy than the cotton-dependent antebellum period. This period is the subject of C. Vann Woodward's classic work, which chronicles the emergence of the region at the end of the 19th century.

Woodward argues that the "New" South constituted a sharp break in Southern history. In the years after Reconstruction, a group of pro-business elites (which Woodward terms "Redeemers") took power in the states of the South. These governments were run frugally, with an eye towards minimizing the tax burden on businessmen and property holders. Their policies in office were designed to maximize the benefits for their class, providing extensive economic breaks for railroads, industries, and insurance companies which succeeded in developing the region's economy. Success came at the expense of educational and social programs, which, starved of funds, failed to provide for the needs of the populace. The result was a region of great poverty, run for the benefit of financiers in the North and a small group of men within the South.

Such iron control was bound to be contested by disadvantaged groups, and Woodward spends several chapters discussing these challenges. The first came during the years immediately after Reconstruction, when the Redeemers struggled for the reins of government with groups seeking social improvements. Reformers won in a few states (most notably in Virginia), but the waning of Northern interest - and with it, federal aid - made theirs a losing struggle.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By jdl37@columbia.edu on March 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
This work, along with the "Strange Career of Jim Crow" form the basis of much of scholarly study on the south for the last 40 years. Most strikingly, he shows the relationship between economic and poltical reform and the issue of race. Demagougery on the issue of race prevented reform movements liket he POpulists from ever proving relief for improverished farmers. Perhaps the most memorable line is "Progressivism was for white men only." He demonstrates how the same people who put in place reforms such as city manager governments, railraod commissions and other "good government reforms" were also the people who disenfrachised blacks and segregated public facilities. Woodward shows clearly the interrelation between race and class in the south at the end of the 19th century. A must read for any student of U.S. history.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. Smallridge on March 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
There is no better history of the South in print even 60 years after its publication. What Woodward does is provide a marker for how the region developed and evolved. What struck me about this work is how politically -- from the so-called "Redeemers" to the Populists and then to the Progressives -- the South has changed so little in many ways. The pro-business elites who benefited from Reconstruction ceded some power (not all) to the pro-business elites of the farming communities who then ceded some power (not all) to the pro-business elites of those challenging some of the changes. In many ways, the "Southern Strategy" of the 1960s was not so much a departure as it was a return to an earlier political class.

I also was struck by Woodward's discussion of the poor educational system of the late 1800s (nearly 3 million illiterate individuals), race (although he does this better in "The Strange Career of Jim Crow"), the rivalry between the South and the West, and the vastness of space compared to the Northeast. In each of these areas, Woodward uses readable, illuminating prose to trace the history of a place and people. This is a terrific book, a perfect starting point to understanding the South.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Anne Mills on December 24, 2013
Format: Paperback
Classic on the emergence of a new southern economy and social structure in the wake of the Civil War and Reconstruction. The book was written sixty years ago, which means that it is dated in some ways, and some of its underlying attitudes would offensive were they voiced today (though Woodward was definitely a progressive for his time). Nonetheless, this book still has a lot to say about the way the South got the way it was, and says it well.
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Format: Paperback
In Origins of the New South 1877-1913 (first published in 1951) C. Vann Woodward maintains that the South was more distinctive as a region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries than it had been before the Civil War. Between 1877 and 1913 the South achieved some semblance of political unity and aligned itself with the West in protest of Eastern capitalism and monopolies. The economy, per capita wealth, income, education, standard of living, and religion of the South all set the region apart from the rest of the nation in the years after Reconstruction.

The Civil War and Reconstruction, while removing some of the South's peculiarities, merely aggravated others and gave rise to new ones. Radical Republican intrusions caused the South to react against governmental influence of any kind. Before the Civil War many southerners had served as presidents, speakers of the House of Representatives, and cabinet members. However, after the Civil War there was a shift in the geography of political power. Woodward believes that the very solidarity of the South was one important source of its political impotence. Not only did the South stake all its political fortunes upon the chances of a single party but those of a consistently losing party at that. However, in the presidential election of 1912 the South finally triumphed by the break-up of a solid North. To summarize, Woodward sees southern sectionalism as a political response to the Reconstruction era of 1865-1877. Furthermore, the South became more unified and distinctive as a region as a result of the southern reaction to Reconstruction.
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