Forgotten Time the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta After the Civil War
- List Price: $55.00
- Binding: Hardcover
- Publisher: Univ of Virginia Pr
- Publish date: 07/01/2000
- ISBN: 9780813919713
- ISBN10: 0813919711
Most historical studies of the Delta have either lauded the achievements of its white planters or found its record number of lynchings representative of the worst aspects of the New South. By looking beyond white planters to the region as a whole, John C. Willis uncovers surprising evidence of African-American enterprise, the advantages of tenancy in an unstable cotton market, and the dominance of foreign-born merchants in the area, including many Chinese. Examining the lives of individuals -- freedmen, planters, and merchants -- Willis explores the reciprocal interests of former slaves and former slaveholders. He shows how, in a cruel irony replicated in other areas of the South, the backbreaking work that African Americans did to clear, settle, and farm the land away from the river made the land ultimately too valuable for them to retain. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the Delta began to devolve back into a stereotypical southern region with African Americans castback into an impoverished, debtridden labor system.
The Yazoo-Mississippi Delta has long been seen as a focal point for the study of Reconstruction, and Forgotten Time enters this historiographical tradition at the same time that it reverses many of its central assumptions.