Northern Illinois University Press

Independence and Empire

The New South's Cotton Mill Campaign, 18651901

Patrick J. Hearden

While the military phase of the Civil War ended in 1865, the sectional conflict continued in the economic arena. New South advocates regarded cotton manufacturing as a pioneer industry that would stimulate urban growth, create a local demand for foodstuffs, and enable their region to break the chains of a one crop system. This New South modernization program was based on the assumption of a constantly expanding overseas market for cotton cloth. Thus, Southerners ironically embarked upon a quest for commercial empire abroad in an effort to overcome their colonial status at home.

Although Southern agrarians provided solid support for the industrial movement, New England businesses made a concerted attempt to hinder economic development in the former slave states. HOwever, Southerners not only won the battle for dominance in the American textile industry, but they also succeeded in obtaining the aid of the federal government in their bid for supremacy in the cotton goods trade of the world.

Patrick J. Hearden's emphasis on sectional rather than class conflict presents a major challenge to the traditional interpretation of the New South era. The fact that farmers and planters backed the cotton mill campaign suggests that C. Vann Woodward and other southern historians have exaggerated the amount of rural-urban tention in Dixie. Moreover, as a student of William Appleman Williams, Hearden has succeeded in placing the southern industrial crusade in the broader context of the drive for foreign markets that influenced the shaping of American diplomacy. Independence and Empire offers fresh analysis of the New South movement, and makes a significant contribution to the debate over the nature of the American Empire.

(1982) 190 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-535-1
Paper $14.00

Table of Contents

1. Antebellum Origins of the New South
2. The Business of Reconstruction
3. The New South's Struggle for Economic Independence
4. The New South's Quest for Commercial Empire
5. Agricultural Businessmen in the New South
6. New England's Reaction to the New South
7. New England's Export Orientation
8. Sectional Reunion and Informal Empire
9. The New South in the Twentieth Century

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-535-1
paper $14.00