This book is a state-wide study of Tennessee's agricultural
population between 1850 and 1880. Relying upon massive samples of
census data as well as plantation accounts, the author provides the
first systematic comparison of the socioeconomic bases of
plantation and non-plantation areas both before and immediately
after the Civil War. Although the study applauds scholars' growing
appreciation of southern diversity during the nineteenth century,
it argues that recent scholarship both oversimplifies distinctions
between Black Belt and Upcountry and exaggerates the socioeconomic
heterogeneity of the South as a whole. It also challenges several
largely unsubstantiated assumptions concerning the postbellum
reorganisation of southern agriculture, particularly those
regarding the immiseration of southern whites and the
immobilization and economic repression of southern freedmen.
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