Rednecks, Redeemers, and Race: Mississippi after Reconstruction, 1877–1917
Rednecks, Redeemers, and Race: Mississippi after Reconstruction, 1877–1917 is the third volume in the Heritage of Mississippi Series. The book, written by West Virginia Wesleyan College professor of history Stephen Cresswell, explores why, despite some advances, Mississippi was not more successful in industrializing, urbanizing, and reducing its dependence on cotton production.
The period of 1877 to 1917 was a time of tremendous growth and modernization for the state, as it was for the rest of the country. Mississippi saw the development of its timber industry, rapid increases in manufacturing jobs, a diversification of crops, advancement in farming methods, and the advent of a good rail system. Electric plants, natural gas service, and telephone exchanges sprung up across the state.
Yet even as it modernized Mississippi lagged behind the rest of the nation. In 1917, as in 1877, the state was a top cotton producer and relied more heavily on cotton than on any other product. Compared to other states, in 1917 Mississippi was near the bottom of the list for length of the school year, for percentage of farms with tractors, and for the number of miles of paved or gravel roads. Mississippi was the least urban and most agricultural state in the nation.
Rednecks, Redeemers, and Race examines the paradox of significant change alongside stubborn continuities. It probes the state’s tumultuous race relations, which were consistently violent between 1877 and 1917. The volume closes by looking at future events that would move Mississippi closer to the national mainstream.
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