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Posts Tagged ‘South; region; development’

The South Has Risen

Historically, the greatest dividing line among Americans (after race, of course) was probably the Mason-Dixon Line, the boundary between southerners and the rest. As recently as 1900, 4 in 10 Americans had been alive when Lincoln was assassinated. Bitter grievances between northerners and southerners — played out in hostile stereotypes and occasional violence — began long before the Civil War and carried into Reconstruction and then well into the 20th century.

D. Lange (LC-USZ6-1028)

Social differences were profound. In 1900, the South was much poorer than the rest of the nation and estranged from it. The southern economy was less connected to the North’s than was Europe’s (see here). Reconstruction had ended without repairing the consequences of slavery and the Jim Crow system was building a caste society.

By 2000, writers were hailing the “New South.” As part of the Sunbelt, its economy boomed even as much of the North became a Rustbelt. So “new” had this South become that many African Americans reversed the Great Migration of the mid-20th century by going “home.” What shrank this great regional divide, this bitter alienation?

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