Thursday, January 21, 2010

Was urbanization crucial to southern life after the civil war?

After the civil war, urbanization rapidly increased in the South. People started to shift away from the traditional plantation-centered mindset and saw the economic opportunities that urban growth offered, particularly in textiles, railways, iron and tobacco. The end of slavery also led many people to explore new vocational prospects, especially in business and the export of natural resources including sugar and lumber. With many former slaves now free and seeking work, land was hard to come by. Sharecropping, while an improvement on slavery, still did not offer people a sense of comfort and security as the land they worked still was not theirs. Instead, cities offered many new opportunities for unskilled workers, giving individuals and families a more dependable situation. Many considered this especially important in the years immediately following the unrest of the Civil War.
Without urbanization, southern life after the civil war would have very different. The number of conflicts over land ownership would have been greatly increased, and a large number of people would have struggled to survive. Urban growth offered these people a new opportunity to succeed in life, which may not have been possible otherwise.

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