In what ways was the economy of the New South different from and similar to the economy of the past?  

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While many economic changes happened in the period referred to as the New South, racial segregation and abusive labor practices for poor and especially black people are still a major hallmark of the era. Jim Crow laws and "separate but equal" policies worked to keep black people from accessing economic...

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While many economic changes happened in the period referred to as the New South, racial segregation and abusive labor practices for poor and especially black people are still a major hallmark of the era. Jim Crow laws and "separate but equal" policies worked to keep black people from accessing economic or political resources and kept massive numbers of black people in jail where the 13th amendment worked hand-in-hand with convict leasing systems to keep a huge number of black people suffering under systems of captivity and forced labor.

The primary changes that did occur were in the forms of labor people participated in. Plantation labor transformed from slavery into the nearly identical "sharecropping," but factories were also built, and mining operations and railroads expanded tremendously. Many poor descendants of rural settlers, who did have land, were also coerced during this time by factory and mining operations, which worked to move them to cities or company towns. This created dense, industry-based population centers and increased many people's economic dependence on their employers and on waged labor overall.

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In many ways, the economy of the New South was quite similar to that of the old. Sharecropping took the place of slavery in many places, and many poor whites and blacks found themselves tied to land through debt with few prospects of upward mobility. Wealth was in the hands of a select few whites, though many of the families who had been wealthy in antebellum times lost everything during the war.

On the other hand, the New South's economy was quite different from that of the old. Many of the old plantations were broken up into smaller farms, as the former planters did not see any point in keeping large farms without their slave labor. These smaller farms diversified into raising beef cattle, corn, and hay. The New South also invited railroad investment into the region, as well as iron production and a textile industry. While the region would grow slowly compared to the North, which was rapidly becoming a haven for immigrants, the economy of the postwar South was becoming industrialized, and this offered more opportunities for those willing to take them. Education also grew as an industry in the region—one of the greatest legacies of Reconstruction was funding public education. Literacy rates in the South significantly improved after the Civil War.

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After the Civil War ended and Reconstruction began, there were many changes in the South. One of those changes dealt with the economy of the South. Before the Civil War, the South had very little industry. Because of the mild climate and fertile soil, the vast majority of southerners were farmers. They grew various products including tobacco, wheat, rice, and cotton. By 1860, cotton became the main exported product of the southern farmers.

After the Civil War ended, things changed in the South. Many people still were farmers, but there was a definite growth in the number of industries in the South. Southerners realized they need an economy that was based on options than just mainly on farming. The growth of industries helped the South’s economy diversify as time passed. Additionally, as industries grew, more railroads were built in the South. Northerners began to invest in the South. This also helped industries grow. Gradually the "New South" was becoming less dependent on farming as more industries were being developed throughout the region.

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