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Memphis and the Political Transformation of the American South
During the first half of the twentieth century, the city of Memphis was governed by the Shelby County Democratic Party controlled by Edward Hull Crump, described by Time magazine as "the most absolute political boss in the U.S." Crusades for Freedom chronicles the demise of the Crump political machine and the corresponding rise to power of the South's two minorities, African Americans and Republicans.Between the years 1948 and 1968, Memphis emerged as a battleground in the struggle to create a strong two-party South. For the first time in its history, both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates campaigned vigorously for the Bluff City's votes. Closely tied to these changing political fortunes was the struggle of African Americans to overturn two centuries of discrimination. At the same time, many believed that the city needed a more modern political structure to meet the challenges of the 1950s and 1960s, preferably a mayor-city council governmental structure. By 1968 the segregated social order had collapsed, black politicians were firmly entrenched within the Democratic party, southern whites had swelled the ranks of the GOP, and Memphis had adopted a new city charter.
The Expansion of Slavery in Georgia, 1750-1860
From the eighteenth century to the eve of the Civil War, Georgia’s racial order shifted from the somewhat fluid conception of race prevalent in the colonial era to the harsher understanding of racial difference prevalent in the antebellum era. In Cultivating Race: The Expansion of Slavery in Georgia, 1750–1860, Watson W. Jennison explores the centrality of race in the development of Georgia, arguing that long-term structural and demographic changes account for this transformation. Jennison traces the rise of rice cultivation and the plantation complex in low country Georgia in the mid-eighteenth century and charts the spread of slavery into the up country in the decades that followed. Cultivating Race examines the “cultivation” of race on two levels: race as a concept and reality that was created, and race as a distinct social order that emerged because of the specifics of crop cultivation. Using a variety of primary documents including newspapers, diaries, correspondence, and plantation records, Jennison offers an in-depth examination of the evolution of racism and racial ideology in the lower South.
Women Coal Miners in Central Appalachia
Much has been written over the years about life in the coal mines of Appalachia. Not surprisingly, attention has focused mainly on the experiences of male miners. In Daughters of the Mountain, Suzanne Tallichet introduces us to a cohort of women miners at a large underground coal mine in southern West Virginia, where women entered the workforce in the late 1970s after mining jobs began opening up for women throughout the Appalachian coalfields.Tallichet's work goes beyond anecdotal evidence to provide complex and penetrating analyses of qualitative data. Based on in-depth interviews with female miners, Tallichet explores several key topics, including social relations among men and women, professional advancement, and union participation. She also explores the ways in which women adapt to mining culture, developing strategies for both resistance and accommodation to an overwhelmingly male-dominated world.
The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921
When a crows began to gather outside the jail in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on the evening of May 31, 1921, the fate of one of its prisoners, a young black male, seemed assured. Accused of attempting to rape a white woman, Dick Rowland was with little doubt about to be lynched. But in another part of town, a small group of black men, many of them World War I veterans, decided to risk lives for a different vision of justice. Before it was all over, Tulsa had erupted into one of America's worst racial nightmares, leaving scores dead and hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed. Exhaustively researched, 'Death in a Promised Land' is compelling story of racial ideologies, southwestern politics, and yellow journalism, and of an embattled black community's struggle to hold onto its land and freedom. More than just the chronicle of one of the nation's most devastating race riots, this critically acclaimed study of American race relations is, above all, a gripping story of terror and lawlessness, and of courage, hedonism, and human perserverance.
The Long Reconstruction of Popular Politics in the South, 1861-1908
In this highly original study, Gregory Downs argues that the most American of wars, the Civil War, created a seemingly un-American popular politics, rooted not in independence but in voluntary claims of dependence. Through an examination of the pleas and petitions of ordinary North Carolinians, ###Declarations of Dependence# contends that the Civil War redirected, not destroyed, claims of dependence by exposing North Carolinians to the expansive but unsystematic power of Union and Confederate governments, and by loosening the legal ties that bound them to husbands, fathers, and masters.
Historic Decisions by Arkansas Governors from McMath through Huckabee
Defining Moments explores how all Arkansas governors since Sid McMath (a group that has produced a president, two U.S. senators, and two presidential contenders) acted in times of crisis. These ten exceptional leaders stand out in Arkansas history and politics for having had their personal and political mettle tested by issues concerning education, the environment, social justice, the conduct of politics, race, and more of the nation’s defining debates. The governors and situations covered include Sid McMath’s bout with the Dixiecrats; Francis Cherry’s ploy to label his opponent a Communist; Orval Faubus’s decision to block integration at Little Rock Central High; Winthrop Rockefeller’s tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. on the State Capitol steps; Dale Bumpers’s battle against political corruption; David Pryor’s veto of the U.S. Corps of Engineers’s Bell Folley Dam; Frank White’s endorsement of Creationism; Bill Clinton’s decision to test public school teachers; Jim Guy Tucker’s bold solution for the Medicaid program and his resignation; and Mike Huckabee’s quest to consolidate the state’s high school districts.
Lee Wilson and the Transformation of Agriculture in the New South
In Delta Empire: Lee Wilson and the Transformation of Agriculture in the New South Jeannie Whayne employs the fascinating history of a powerful plantation owner in the Arkansas delta to recount the evolution of southern agriculture from the late nineteenth century through World War II. After his father’s death in 1870, Robert E. “Lee” Wilson inherited 400 acres of land in Mississippi County, Arkansas. Over his lifetime, he transformed that inheritance into a 50,000-acre lumber operation and cotton plantation. Early on, Wilson saw an opportunity in the swampy local terrain, which sold for as little as fifty cents an acre, to satisfy an expanding national market for Arkansas forest reserves. He also led the fundamental transformation of the landscape, involving the drainage of tens of thousands of acres of land, in order to create the vast agricultural empire he envisioned. A consummate manager, Wilson employed the tenancy and sharecropping system to his advantage while earning a reputation for fair treatment of laborers, a reputation—Whayne suggests—not entirely deserved. He cultivated a cadre of relatives and employees from whom he expected absolute devotion. Leveraging every asset during his life and often deeply in debt, Wilson saved his company from bankruptcy several times, leaving it to the next generation to successfully steer the business through the challenges of the 1930s and World War II. Delta Empire traces the transition from the labor-intensive sharecropping and tenancy system to the capital-intensive neo-plantations of the post–World War II era to the portfolio plantation model. Through Wilson’s story Whayne provides a compelling case study of strategic innovation and the changing economy of the South in the late nineteenth century.
Felix Grundy of the Old Southwest
A central political figure in the first post-Revolutionary generation, Felix Grundy (1775–1840) epitomized the “American democrat” who so famously fascinated Alexis de Tocqueville. Born and reared on the isolated frontier, Grundy rose largely by his own ability to become the Old Southwest’s greatest criminal lawyer and one of the first radical political reformers in the fledgling United States. In Democracy’s Lawyer, the first comprehensive biography of Grundy since 1940, J. Roderick Heller reveals how Grundy’s life typifies the archetypal, post–founding fathers generation that forged America’s culture and institutions. After his birth in Virginia, Grundy moved west at age five to the region that would become Kentucky, where he lost three brothers in Indian wars. He earned a law degree, joined the legislature, and quickly became Henry Clay’s main rival. At age thirty-one, after rising to become chief justice of Kentucky, Grundy moved to Tennessee, where voters soon elected him to Congress. In Washington, Grundy proved so voracious a proponent of the War of 1812 that a popular slogan of the day blamed the war on “Madison, Grundy, and the Devil.” A pivotal U.S. senator during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, Grundy also served as Martin Van Buren’s attorney general and developed a close association with his law student and political protégé James K. Polk. Grundy championed the ideals of the American West, and as Heller demonstrates, his dominating belief—equality in access to power—motivated many of his political battles. Aristocratic federalism threatened the principles of the Revolution, Grundy asserted, and he opposed fetters on freedom of opportunity, whether from government or entrenched economic elites. Although widely known as a politician, Grundy achieved even greater fame as a criminal lawyer. Of the purported 185 murder defendants that he represented, only one was hanged. At a time when criminal trials served as popular entertainment, Grundy’s mere appearance in a courtroom drew spectators from miles around, and his legal reputation soon spread nationwide. One nineteenth-century Nashvillian declared that Grundy “could stand on a street corner and talk the cobblestones into life.” Shifting seamlessly within the worlds of law, entrepreneurship, and politics, Felix Grundy exemplified the questing, mobile society of early nineteenth-century America. With Democracy’s Lawyer, Heller firmly establishes Grundy as a powerful player and personality in early American law and politics.
Duke, Emory, Rice, Tulane, and Vanderbilt
After World War II, elite private universities in the South faced growing calls for desegregation. Though, unlike their peer public institutions, no federal court ordered these schools to admit black students and no troops arrived to protect access to the schools, to suggest that desegregation at these universities took place voluntarily would be misleading In Desegregating Private Higher Education in the South,Melissa Kean explores how leaders at five of the region's most prestigious private universities—Duke, Emory, Rice, Tulane, and Vanderbilt—sought to strengthen their national position and reputation while simultaneously answering the increasing pressure to end segregation. To join the upper echelon of U. S. universities, these schools required increased federal and northern philanthropic funding. Clearly, to receive this funding, schools had to eliminate segregation, and so a rift appeared within the leadership of the schools. University presidents generally favored making careful accommodations in their racial policies for the sake of academic improvement, but universities' boards of trustees—the presidents' main opponents—served as the final decision-makers on university policy. Board members--usually comprised of professional, white, male alumni--reacted strongly to threats against southern white authority and resisted determinedly any outside attempts to impose desegregation. The grassroots civil rights movement created a national crisis of conscience that led many individuals and institutions vital to the universities' survival to insist on desegregation. The schools felt enormous pressure to end discrimination as northern foundations withheld funding, accrediting bodies and professional academic associations denied membership, divinity students and professors chose to study and teach elsewhere, and alumni withheld contributions. The Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 gave the desegregation debate a sense of urgency and also inflamed tensions—which continued to mount into the early 1960s. These tensions and the boards' resistance to change created an atmosphere of crisis that badly eroded their cherished role as southern leaders. When faced with the choice between institutional viability and segregation, Kean explains, they gracelessly relented, refusing to the end to admit they had been pressured by outside forces. Shedding new light on a rare, unexamined facet of the civil rights movement, Desegregating Private Higher Education in the South fills a gap in the history of the academy.
Feminine Identity in White Southern Women's Writing
In this groundbreaking study, Kathaleen E. Amende considers the works and lives of late-twentieth-century southern women writers to explore how conservative Christian ideals of femininity shaped notions of religion, sexuality, and power in the South. Drawing from the work of authors like Rosemary Daniell and Connie May Fowler, whose characters—like the authors themselves—grow up believing that Jesus should be a girl’s first “boyfriend,” Amende demonstrates many ways in which these writers commingled the sexual and the sacred. Amende also looks at the writings of Lee Smith, Sheri Reynolds, Dorothy Allison, and Valerie Martin and discusses how southern women authors and their characters grappled with opposing cultural expectations. Often in their work, characters mingle spiritual devotion and carnal love, allowing for salvation despite rejecting traditional roles or behaviors. In Martin’s A Recent Martyr, novitiate Claire disavows southern norms of femininity—courtship, marriage, and motherhood—but submits to Jesus as she would to a husband. In Reynolds’s Rapture of Canaan, teenage protagonist Ninah Huff imagines that her out-of-wedlock child is the offspring of Christ because of her conviction that Jesus was present during the sexual act that produced him. This tie between sexuality and religion afforded women movement between the two, but any attempt to separate them into compartmentalized spaces, as Amende shows, produces negative consequences—from pain and mental illness to an inability to connect with others. Ultimately, women have to find a way to unite the realms of the body and of faith in order to achieve spiritual and romantic fulfillment. As in Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina, where, for the protagonist, gospel music includes both the intensity of violent fantasies along with a spiritual yearning, it is only when the erotic and the spiritual coexist that women achieve full self-realization. Grounded in southern cultural and gender studies and informed by historical, religious, and devotional literature, Amende’s timely and accessible book offers one the first studies to view the intersection of sexuality and Christianity in southern contexts.