Immigration in the American South 1864-1895

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After the Civil War, the southern states experienced a decline in the labor force, particularly those needed to work the fields. Consequently, the South gathered together to recruit immigrants, both foreign as well as domestic. This book examines these efforts, focusing on major southern immigration conventions and their objectives and accomplishments.

During the last years of the 1860s, the individual southern states were occupied publishing descriptive handbooks expounding the reasons to relocate to their state. In 1876, 14 states gathered at a convention in New Orleans to address the issue of immigration. In 1883, the Southern Immigration Association of America was formed under the leadership of A.J. McWhirter. The following year, this organization held a three-day convention in Nashville. In 1888, the Southern Interstate Immigration Association held the first of at least three conventions in the town of Montgomery, followed in 1890 at Asheville and again in 1894 at Augusta.

Included in this book are proceedings of the Southern Immigration Association Convention and the first convention of the Southern Interstate Immigration Association. Newspaper coverage of these major conventions and other smaller conventions is included. As the southern railroads played a major part in immigration efforts, this book also includes information on their role and activities in encouraging immigrants to relocate to southern states. In the concluding chapter, state-by-state charts analyze the state population statistics from 1870 to 1900.


“ ... following the Civil War for a brief, but unsuccessful time, most southern states engaged in the active recruitment of immigrants to replace the labor force that they believed was lost to the outcome of the war. By providing documents and accompanying newspaper coverage that have not seen the historical light of day since they appeared in the nineteenth century, the authors enable the reader to see a side of southerners not ordinarily portrayed in the history books. Currently there is no published monograph on the presence and contributions of immigrants and ethnics in southern history. This documentary history, however, goes a long way toward opening that discussion with valuable documentary evidence ... The proceedings and minutes of the southern immigration convention movement included herein are appearing for the first time in book form and, with the connecting commentary that threads its way throughout the volume, provide the reader with a unique and unconventional perspective ...” – (from the Preface) Jacqueline Hood McFadden, Government Documents Librarian, Winthrop University

“ ... If the past is prelude to the future, the authors have compiled documents which demonstrate quite clearly that southerners were doomed from the start in their attempt to adjust to the end of slavery after the Civil War. The Southern Immigration Convention movement is a largely overlooked aspect of the post-Civil War South, and this book goes a long way toward rectifying that ... If primary source material is the building block of historical study, then this book serves as a major linchpin in the construction of an understanding of the South after the Civil War. This book will find its way into many classrooms, and instructors and students will be so much the better for it ...” – Professor David Weeks, Winthrop University

“ ... The authors have done yeoman duty in bringing to light a topic and a cache of documents which have too long been ignored. Students and scholars of the Modern South now have a place to begin their study of the region’s unsuccessful attempt to replace their lost labor system. The documents and the commentary vividly capture the essence of the debate ... This is a book which will be used and reused as researchers see to understand, if not reconcile, the schizophrenic nature of Southern history ...” – Professor Jean Wells, Winthrop University

Table of Contents

Preface by Jacqueline Hood McFadden
1. Introduction; The Divided Mind of the New South
2. Chronology of Events
3. Early Efforts to Increase Immigration
4. The Southern Immigration Association of America
5. Efforts of Southern Railways to Induce Immigration
6. The Southern Interstate Immigration Convention
7. Statistical Analysis

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