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154 The bitterness of Reconstruction Era politics would ultimately spawn the carpetbagger stereotype: that of a morally and financially bankrupt individual, drawn from the lowest element of Northern society, who invaded the South as a predator to feed off the suffering of the conquered, to seize and abuse political office, and to raise the supposedly childlike, inferior freedmen above their rightful station. But in fact the Northerners who came south, on the whole, were educated, well-heeled citizens. The vast majority were successful businessmen and professionals, and most were Union army veterans. They came to teach; to serve as lawyers for the freedmen; to become agents in the Freedmen’s Bureau; to publish newspapers; to sell wares; to farm land that would otherwise have deteriorated from neglect; and to invest large sums of desperately needed cash into a devastated economy.Most did not come seeking any role in Southern politics. Those who came to run cotton plantations did seek personal success and financial reward,yet this was the very same impetus drivingAmerica’sgreatwesterlymigrations,andpioneersarerememberedinan overwhelmingly positive light.At the time,the Northern transplants were seen for what they were, and those who arrived in 1865 and 1866 typically met with polite greetings.1 Thompson’s Station was no exception. In fact, Will Iddings had already settled there with his wife-to-be, Fie Johnson. Thefamily of Jacob Critz Sr.had arrived in Thompson’s Station in the 1820s, and built a family home there circa 1835.2 As of 1860,Critz’s son,Jacob Critz Jr., C h a p t e r 7 King Cotton December 1865–January 1868 R I expect to make this land of the South my home for some time to come. King Cotton · 155 employed a dozen slaves,and in 1866 he retained the same three hundred acres of fertile soil he had possessed before the war. James and Linus’s field hands may have included some of the Critzes’ex-slaves,who had probably first tasted freedom just one year before.3 The names of James and Linus’s freedmen field hands and domestic servants are gradually revealed through correspondence, and appear to have included Harriet,Aunty, Manda, Kate, Crockett, Melvina, Jimmy, Harold, Robert, Martha, and Josh. Two more, Lawson and Julia, were evidently children. James and Jenny were together in Thompson’s Station from late January through early September. That period is sparsely documented, illuminated only by letters that passed between the young couple and their parents. James wrote the first letter below while visiting a plantation near Murfreesboro that Linus Squire had leased for the 1865 crop season.4 —————— Winstead Farm, near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, December 28, 1865 My dear Jenny, This evening finds me seated by Squire’s hospitable fire, talking over the chances for a cotton crop.5 Left Nashville at 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon but did not get here until after dark, and found Squire leaning up against the telegraph pole, looking anxiously for me. We have made up our minds to rent in Tennessee, and shall go to Pulaski tomorrow to look up a farm and rent if we can. The season is getting so far advanced that if we should take time to go to Mississippi or farther south, it would be very late before we could get settled. So make up your mind to come to Tennessee. Today we have been to Murfreesboro and had several talks with cotton men. Some think we had better go farther south, while others think the next year we had better stay in Tennessee. Shall be glad when we get settled and you are with me. I never used to get homesick. Don’t think I am now, but then there is someone I want with me, and you know who that is. Should like to see you all. Does Ettie make as much noise as usual?6 Write me a long letter, and direct to Murfreesboro, Box No. 173.Will have you come as soon as we can get things arranged.Your James. 156 · Conspicuous Gallantry Linus Truman Squire. (U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center) King Cotton · 157 Nashville, Tennessee, January 3, 1866 My dear Jenny, I have just returned from my trip southward. We succeeded in renting a farm between Franklin and Columbia,and you can get ready to start at an early day. We rented 200 acres of good cotton land with a fine brick house upon it and everything comfortable, within 2 miles of...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781631011382
Related ISBN
9781606352434
MARC Record
OCLC
927384734
Pages
288
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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