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The South's greatest enemy? the cotton boll weevil and its lost revolution, 1892-1930 /

by Giesen, James Conrad

Abstract (Summary)
When the cotton boll weevil crossed the Mexican border into Texas around 1892 and began a slow march across the Cotton Belt, many predicted that the pest would destroy the plantation South, whose economy and society rested on the production of cotton. As the pest began devouring the staple and moving through the region, land owners, tenants, politicians, and extension agents continued to paint the pest as a direct threat to their livelihoods. Despite the fear that gripped the South, by the time the weevil made its way to the Atlantic Ocean, the pest had made no major, lasting effect on the economic, social, or environmental structures of the region. This dissertation examines how individuals and communities in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia reacted to the arrival of the pest, and how in each place forces acted to use the boll weevil to advance their own purposes. Instead of blaming antiquated credit systems, Jim Crow racial codes, and poor agricultural practices, contemporaries and scholars alike used the boll weevil as a material scapegoat for enduring poverty in the rural South, as well as changes to the land and society that had little to do with the pest’s arrival.
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School:The University of Georgia

School Location:USA - Georgia

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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