Problem South Region, Empire, and the New Liberal State, 1880-1930

ISBN-10: 0820342602
ISBN-13: 9780820342603
Edition: 2012
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Description: For most historians, the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw the hostilities of the Civil War and the dashed hopes of Reconstruction give way to the nationalizing forces of cultural reunion, a process that is said to have downplayed  More...

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Book details

Copyright year: 2012
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Publication date: 4/1/2012
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 288
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.100

For most historians, the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw the hostilities of the Civil War and the dashed hopes of Reconstruction give way to the nationalizing forces of cultural reunion, a process that is said to have downplayed sectional grievances and celebrated racial and industrial harmony. In truth, says Natalie J. Ring, this buoyant mythology competed with an equally powerful and far-reaching set of representations of the backward Problem South—one that shaped and reflected attempts by northern philanthropists, southern liberals, and federal experts to rehabilitate and reform the country’s benighted region. Ring rewrites the history of sectional reconciliation and demonstrates how this group used the persuasive language of social science and regionalism to reconcile the paradox of poverty and progress by suggesting that the region was moving through an evolutionary period of “readjustment” toward a more perfect state of civilization.In addition,The Problem Southcontends that the transformation of the region into a mission field and laboratory for social change took place in a transnational moment of reform. Ambitious efforts to improve the economic welfare of the southern farmer, eradicate such diseases as malaria and hookworm, educate the southern populace, “uplift” poor whites, and solve the brewing “race problem” mirrored the colonial problems vexing the architects of empire around the globe. It was no coincidence, Ring argues, that the states’ efforts to solve the “southern problem” and reformers’ increasing reliance on social scientific methodology occurred during the height of U.S. imperial expansion.

Bryant Simonis Professor of History and the Director of American Studies at Temple University and the author, most recently, ofBoardwalk Dreams: Atlantic City and the Fate of Urban America.

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction. Regional, National, and Global Designs
The "Southern Problem" and Readjustment
The Menace of the Diseased South
The White Plague of Cotton
The Poor White Problem as the "New Race Question"
The "Race Problem" and the Fiction of the Color Line
Epilogue. The Enduring Paradox of the South
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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