Final Frontiers, 1880-1930

Overview

An examination of the settlement history of the alluvial bottomlands of the lower Mississippi Valley from 1880 to 1930, this study details how cotton-growers transformed the swamplands of northwestern Mississippi, northeastern Louisiana, northeastern Arkansas, and southern Missouri into cotton fields. Although these alluvial bottomlands contained the richest cotton soils in the American South, cotton-growers in the Southern bottomlands faced a host of environmental problems, including dense forests, seasonal ...

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Overview

An examination of the settlement history of the alluvial bottomlands of the lower Mississippi Valley from 1880 to 1930, this study details how cotton-growers transformed the swamplands of northwestern Mississippi, northeastern Louisiana, northeastern Arkansas, and southern Missouri into cotton fields. Although these alluvial bottomlands contained the richest cotton soils in the American South, cotton-growers in the Southern bottomlands faced a host of environmental problems, including dense forests, seasonal floods, water-logged soils, poor transportation, malarial fevers and insect pests. This interdisciplinary approach uses primary and secondary sources from the fields of history, geography, sociology, agronomy, and ecology to fill an important gap in our knowledge of American environmental history.

Requiring laborers to clear and cultivate their lands, cotton-growers recruited black and white workers from the upland areas of the Southern states. Growers also supported the levee districts which built imposing embankments to hold the floodwaters in check. Canals and drainage ditches were constructed to drain the lands, and local railways and graveled railways soon ended the area's isolation. Finally, quinine and patent medicines would offer some relief from the malarial fevers that afflicted bottomland residents, and commercial poisons would combat the local pests that attacked the cotton plants, including the boll weevils which arrived in the early twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Seasonal floods, swampy soils, dense forest, physical isolation, insect and arachnid pests, and endemic human and livestock diseases are some of the reasons Otto (International Center, Washington, DC) cites for why settlement began so late in the alluvial bottomlands of the lower Mississippi River Valley. He draws on primary and secondary sources to describe how it became one of the most densely populated regions of the country over five decades. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

JOHN SOLOMON OTTO is a Research Fellow with the International Center, Washington, D.C.

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Table of Contents

Preface: Settling the Southern Bottomlands
1 Settling the Southern Bottomlands Before 1880 1
2 The Southern Bottomlands During the Late Nineteenth Century (1880-1900) 15
3 The Southern Bottomlands During the Early Twentieth Century (1900-1920) 35
4 The Southern Bottomlands During the Agricultural Recession (1920-1930) 57
5 Settling the Southern Bottomlands After 1930 83
App.: Tables 113
Notes 119
Sources 151
Index 175
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