Why didn't the South change as much economically as some would have hoped during the Reconstruction Era?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

It is easy to know howthe South failed to change, but it is harder to know for sure whyit did not.  If we knew for sure how to change and improve economies, we would do it and there would be much less in the way of economic problems.

That said, we can make a few conjectures about why the South failed to industrialize or to mechanize its agriculture.  Some possible answers include:

  • Too much competition from the North.  The North already had well-entrenched factories and these made it hard for new Southern factories to compete.
  • Northern domination of railroads.  The railroads set rates that discriminated against Southern goods moving towards the North.  They charged more for these goods, thus hurting the South.
  • Large supply of cheap and unskilled labor. This made it so that landlords had much less need to mechanize their agriculture.  They could still make money using a sharecropping or a crop-lien system.  This made development less necessary.

All of these are possible reasons why the South did not experience as much economic change as some might have hoped during Reconstruction.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial