The Rise and Fall of Tobacco in South Carolina
Publication Year: 2000
The first comprehensive history of Bright Leaf tobacco culture of any state to appear in fifty years, this book explores tobacco's influence in South Carolina from its beginnings in the colonial period to its heyday at the turn of the century, the impact of the Depression, the New Deal, and World War II, and on to present-day controversies about health risks due to smoking.
The book examines the tobacco growers' struggle against the monopolistic practices of manufacturers, explains the failures of the cooperative reform movement and the Hoover administration's farm policies, and describes how Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal rescued southern agriculture from the Depression and forged a lasting and successful partnership between tobacco farmers and government. The technological revolutions of the post-World War II era and subsequent tobacco economy hardships due to increasingly negative public perception of tobacco use are also highlighted.The book details the roles and motives of key individuals in the development of tobacco culture, including firsthand experiences related by farmers and warehousemen, and offers informed speculations on the future of tobacco culture. Long Green allows readers to better understand the full significance of this cash crop in the history and economy of South Carolina and the American South.
Published by: University of Georgia Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Tables and Figures
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The purpose of this book is to observe and understand the history of tobacco culture in South Carolina. Given the negative image smoking has acquired, one might ask, Why study tobacco at all? and why especially in South Carolina? For better or worse, tobacco is thoroughly...
1. Tobacco Doth Here Grow Very Well, 1670–1810
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Agriculture is the world’s oldest commercial activity, and farmers have long felt the fickle arrogance of the marketplace. The laws of supply and demand and comparative advantage have dominated agriculture since Babylonian peasants traded omers of wheat for baskets of olives. The ancient logic of market forces is well known and requires...
2. Years of the Locust, 1865–1885
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More than seventy-five years passed before tobacco was again cultivated as a cash crop in South Carolina. Over these eight decades, South Carolina deepened its commitment to rice, cotton, and slavery and marched in lockstep with world markets to the cadence of...
3. Pearl of the Pee Dee, 1885–1918
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Few cultural phenomena in American history have equaled the spectacular rise of cigarette smoking in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.1 As a way of consuming tobacco, cigarettes were latecomers. Before the 1870s, few Americans outside major cities had seen a cigarette, let alone smoked one. Americans puffed pipes and cigars...
4. Reform and Reaction, 1918–1926
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In the early 1920s, Pee Dee tobacco and cotton farmers suffered from the correction of inflated wartime commodity prices. But falling prices were only part of the problem. Many tobacco growers throughout the Carolinas and Virginia believed they were being victimized by a biased marketing system that prevented them from receiving a fair...
5. The Abyss, 1926–1932
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Observers of southern agriculture had long predicted that flue-cured tobacco growers were headed for disaster. By the late 1920s, the handwriting was clearly on the wall. Efforts to reform the highly prejudiced marketing system had failed. Besides the inherent bias of few buyers and many sellers, growers were victimized by secret grading systems and...
6. The Lord, Mr. Roosevelt, and Bright Leaf Redemption, 1933–1935
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Seldom has an event drawn so bold a line across the page of history as did the New Deal in the chronicle of southern agriculture. The benevolent paternalism that came to characterize government’s attitude toward farming began in the first hundred days of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency. The heart of the New Deal’s farm program was the...
7. War and Peace, 1936–1950
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The blow fell in January 1936. The farm recovery program suffered a setback when the Supreme Court declared the Agricultural Adjustment Act unconstitutional. In a six-to-three decision, the Court ruled that government had no right to ‘‘regulate and control agriculture.’’ Speaking for the majority, Justice Owen J. Roberts, a Hoover appointee, ...
8. Advance, Retreat, and Retrenchment, 1950–1990s
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The 1950s were the golden age of the golden leaf. Propelled by prosperity and powerful advertising, demand for cigarettes soared, and Pee Dee tobacco growers worked hard to supply the raw material. American agriculture was undergoing profound technological change as well. As industry returned to peacetime production in the late 1940s, farmers...
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Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 17 tables, 1 map, 4 figures
Publication Year: 2000