In Volume 2: The Kingdom of Cotton, the economic and social forces that doomed the South are fully explored. As the textile factories of New England and Europe spring up, they create an insatiable demand for cotton. When Eli Whitney's invention appears, it unleashes the equivalent of a gold rush in the South. In spite of the heroic efforts of Northern and Southern statesmen over a period of 40 years, the regions have moved too far apart. And when war comes, the South is totally unprepared. F.B. Simkins reveals the shocking inadequacies that plagued the Southerners, both diplomatically and economically.
The bare knuckle exploration of Reconstruction and its aftermath is some of the greatest historical writing ever produced by an American scholar, and Simkins demonstrates how the modern South was shaped by it. He delves into the political and religious underpinnings of white supremacy, what sustained it, and how it shaped the rest of the nation. He discusses the agrarian revolt which followed the success of Southern textile mills and follows this up with a look at what he terms "cultural protestantism" and shows how it continued to dog the social and intellectual fiber of the region across all class lines.
With the triumph of white supremacy in the 1890s it appeared that the South had simply adjusted itself to the new economic realities with a minimum of social change. But blacks in the twentieth century would have something to say about this.
A History of the South concludes in Volume 3: The Crucible of Modernism.
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Comprehensive and serious history
- Theo Horesh