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Although textile mills and tobacco factories emerged in the South during this time, the plans for a New South largely failed. By , per-capita income in the.
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Notable factory and mine owners included Daniel Pratt , Henry F. Comer started what would become one of the largest grist mills in the state in Barbour County before moving to Birmingham and developing successful textile operations at Avondale Mills. Plowing with Draft Animals in Pike County Despite the wave of industrialization sweeping through the state, most Alabamians—nearly 90 percent—still lived on and worked farms.
Cotton production rebounded by the s to pre-Civil War yields, but market prices dropped continuously through the s and s. As a result, conditions for Alabamians engaged in agricultural production did not improve after Reconstruction. Many described the tenant farming and sharecropping systems, which emerged as a result of an overabundance of unskilled workers and the persistent lack of credit opportunities, as little better than the slave system that preceded it. Both freed slaves and poor white small farmers were affected.
Freedpeople were generally unable to find credit to purchase land of their own. Landowners, who no longer had an enslaved labor source, had little money to pay salaries. As a solution, owners either rented their land to farmers tenant farming or allowed farm laborers to live on and work their land in exchange for a share of the profits from cash crops sharecropping. Such relationships developed not only between farmers and landowners, but also between farmers and creditors, who advanced groceries, seed, fertilizer, and other necessities for a share of future profits.
These advances were known as "crop liens. Few tenant farmers or sharecroppers could hope for better than breaking even each year. Tenant farmers and sharecroppers established advocacy organizations, such as the Grange, the Agricultural Wheel, the Farmers Alliance, and the Sharecroppers' Union , to combat exploitative business practices and advocate for reforms. The Farmers' Alliance achieved modest successes in reducing railroad shipping costs and establishing the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industry to help educate and fight for their rights.
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Agricultural curricula at Auburn University and Tuskegee Institute sought to educate farmers in both the business and science of farming. Birmingham Mule-drawn Streetcar, ca. The city was founded in by a group of enterprising capitalists who successfully convinced railroad interests to build lines through the area to provide shipping for the iron, coal, and limestone products. Located at the intersection of north-south and east-west railroad lines, Birmingham became a center of commerce. People said the city grew "like magic," hence its nickname, the "Magic City.
Soon after the rise of Birmingham, entrepreneurs attempted to recreate its success by founding other towns where iron and coal deposits were suspected to be abundant.
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DeBardeleben founded Bessemer , Ensley named a town after himself, and Samuel Noble and Daniel Tyler founded the planned community of Anniston , which became the fourth largest city in Alabama by Some towns that lured investors, such as Fort Payne , did not fulfill their promise and bankrupted their hopeful developers. Sizeable cities not related to industrial areas expanded during this time as well.
Mobile struggled throughout the early New South era because of the decrease in cotton exporting, but it rebounded as textile shipping increased and the state dredged a deeper shipping channel. Huntsville , Montgomery , and Gadsden grew larger and more prosperous because of the influx of successful textile mills. Steamboat in Mobile, ca.
Railway construction connecting Mobile with Nashville, through Montgomery and Birmingham, was completed in In addition, a line linking Meridian, Mississippi, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, also ran through Birmingham.
By , the Southern Railway system, the Atlantic Coastal Line, and the Seaboard Line all reached into Alabama, which by then had more than 4, miles of working track. Waterways also played an important role in shipping. Improvements to steamboats and Mobile Harbor made water transportation more viable. The invention of sternwheeler steamboats , which were more powerful than sidewheelers, improved efficiency on Alabama's riverways. Dredging efforts in Mobile Harbor in and were crucial in maintaining Mobile's status as a major ocean port. After almost a decade of Reconstruction efforts by Republicans , southern conservative Democrats , or " Bourbons ," regained political power in the period known as Redemption, which began in the mids.
The Republican Party the party of Lincoln held a majority in the House in , when the black vote carried Republican candidates to victory. But the party failed to stay unified because of the emergence of Republican figures like Lewis E. Parsons , who was no supporter of rights for African American Alabamians. This discord among Republicans sympathetic to and those opposed to civil rights opened the door for Democrats to reassert themselves in the state political arena.
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After winning back control of the state in , Democrats drafted a new Constitution in that re-imposed white supremacy and enshrined states' rights , limited government, and low property taxes. The party split into conservative and reform factions. Reform Democrats supporting Rueben F. Kolb split from the party to form the Jeffersonian Democratic Party. Near the end of the nineteenth century, the Populist Party emerged as a viable competitor in the traditional two-party system. Democrats in Alabama viewed Populists as a threat to their support from small farmers and discontented factory workers and bristled at their calls for government regulation of business and industry, which were viewed by many people as corrupt and exploitive.
Thus, a system of tenant farming and sharecropping came to replace the pre-war labor system of slavery. These changing economic conditions produced dramatic results in Georgia. In , more than 90 percent of Georgians lived in rural areas. In , only 75 percent did. The number of wage earners in Georgia increased by percent between and The number of people who worked on farms dropped from 72 percent of the workforce to about 55 percent.
Displaced farmers found work in a number of different industries and trades. They worked in textile and lumber mills, metal works, print shops, and in marble and stone quarries. All of these industries grew at unprecedented rates in the decades following the Civil War. Early Unions in Georgia Workers in Georgia's growing urban areas formed early trade-union associations in the late s.
The groups, called "uplift" associations, worked to improve the status of working people. They labored to create libraries, schools and early credit associations for the urban working class. The group passed resolutions calling for more schools and urging officials to tax only property. The workers promised political support to candidates who incorporated their views. The Workingmen's Union eventually nominated candidates for city offices in Atlanta. Other similar organizations appeared in Augusta and Macon. In many ways, the efforts in Georgia mirrored national trends.
Long, a barber, hoped to organize black workers into a labor union. He listed price controls as his main goal. Despite Long's efforts, an organized labor movement among either blacks or whites, proved several years away. Knights of Labor The efforts in Georgia in many ways mirrored national trends. The same year that Long held the Negro Labor Convention in Georgia, the Knights of Labor formed to try to stop the unchecked rise of industrial capitalism, which had resulted in a decline in the quality of life for urban workers.
The Knights believed that the coming order would create a form of "wage slavery. By the mid s, the Knights enjoyed a membership of , people. The organization also counted 90, black workers and 65, women workers among its members. They made no distinction between race and gender, preferring to bar only lawyers, doctors, bankers, stock brokers and professional gamblers from their ranks.
The first Knights assemblies in Georgia appeared in Rome and Atlanta; however, the organization had disbanded in Rome by the early s. Though the Knights' record on interracial unionization in Georgia was mixed, black workers set up two Knights chapters in Atlanta. An assembly in Athens also welcomed both black and white members in He received a warm welcome, as did other Knights officials who visited the state. Enough Georgia assemblies had formed for the Knights to hold state conventions in the late s.
Delegates to the meeting in Atlanta called for government control over railroads and telegraphs, supported an end to national banks, urged an elimination of child labor in factories, and advocated equal pay for men and women. As with most early attempts to organize whites and blacks in Georgia, Knights members often faced threats and violence when they tried to breach the region's color barriers.
Hiram Hover, of the Co-operative Workers of America an organization loosely affiliated with the Knights , spoke to blacks in Milledgeville in urging them to demand higher wages. He faced continuous threats and eventually fled the area. Thugs burned the home of one of his supporters anyway.
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A group of Ku Klux Klan members later shot him in the face as he talked before a group of black workers at a church in Warrenton. Hover left Georgia for New York when his wounds healed. Though the Knights professed an aversion to the use of strikes, members walked out of textile mills in Augusta over low wages in The strike idled the city's mills for most of the summer. When companies imported strike breakers from other states, the Knights convinced them not to cross their picket lines and then paid for their train rides back home.
The strike turned into a stalemate and the mill workers returned to their jobs in November, however, without the higher wages they wanted. At one time, the Knights boasted 25 assemblies and 9, white and black members in Georgia. By , however, the organization had declined and only 15 assemblies, all of them made up of white members, remained.
Populism The Populist movement, which grew in Georgia during the s and s, began to reach out to urban workers. Congressman Tom Watson, who represented a district that included Augusta, sought votes from mill workers in the city. The Colored Farmers Alliance, an affiliated organization, appeared in the state and attempted to organize black agricultural laborers.
Both organizations quickly declined in Georgia.
Machinists and blacksmiths organized the first locals of their national unions in Atlanta in the late s. Carpenters, printers, stone workers, dockworkers and molders also established a strong presence in the state. The railroad unions also set up reinvigorated organizations in Georgia. Up to 3 pieces in one document. Only one submission at a time, please. This category is closed. The one-time issue is now live. Submit one review up to 1, words in length. We accept reviews of books — poetry, fiction, and nonfiction — that have been published within the past year.
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