Prosperity and the New South
Out with the Old and In with the New:
The years following the Civil War were a time of economic hardship for much of the South. The traditional Southern way of life had come to a close: the brief reign of the Confederacy ended and the slave labor necessary for its large plantation abolished. Many Southerners acknowledged the need for change. The term the “new South,” coined by newspaper editor Henry Grady in 1877, quickly caught hold across the region and immediately became the rhetoric of Southern progress.
The new South meant a departure from a strictly agricultural economy and a movement towards industrialization and trade. Rural communities would be transformed into cities. New railroad lines would emerge daily. Iron and coal deposits would be mined. And all of these transformations would be built on the backs of free labor. The “new South” rhetoric called for its states to emerge as a region of unprecedented prosperity. And at the center of this prosperity, only two things from the old South were to remain: cotton and racial prejudices.