Campaigning for Cane: Louisiana's Sugar Planters and the Tariff, 1865-1890

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Davison, Benjamin, Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia

Historians of the New South (1877-1913), often committed to C. Vann Woodward's thesis of a South colonized by the North, have given little thought to the relationship between the South's agricultural producers and their global competitors outside of the United States. Instead, scholars focus on the local aspects of Southern business, such as the exploitation of African-American workers and the politics behind regional industrialization. Others characterize the New South as a period when the diminished social and economic authority of the planter class enabled a generation of financiers and industrialists to seize political power. These decisions depended upon the landowners' adaptations to changes in domestic political economy and the global commodities trade during the 1860s. Before the Civil War, the South was the world's premier agricultural exporter, but the disruptions to trade during the conflict encouraged Europeans to develop stocks of sugar, cotton, rice, and tobacco of their own. The victorious North also imposed a tariff system benefitting select industries, further restricting Southerners' ability to conduct business with their traditional international partners. For Southern planters, financiers, and industrialists, the changing geopolitics surrounding international trade played an equally significant role in shaping their lives as did the localized problems engendered by emancipation and military defeat.

MA (Master of Arts)
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