Old Man River:  History Along the MississippiApril 19-November 2, 2003


Riverfront Property

The South

Bald eagle and alligator crossing sign
The Upper vs. The Lower Mississippi
The South exhibit section
Artwork, slave artifacts and photographs on display from several sources, including:
~ James Hicks, Iowa City IA
~ Muscatine Art Center, Muscatine IA

"I vividly remember seeing a dozen black men and women chained to one another … awaiting shipment to the southern slave market. Those were the saddest faces I have ever seen."
- Mark Twain

The southern Mississippi Valley was "the land of cotton." Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana were consumed with its cultivation and commerce. Easy transportation of cotton on the Mississippi River helped to keep intact the antebellum plantation system well into the 20th century. The Mississippi Delta region was a mix of cultures and ethnic heritage, but this region was no melting pot. It was a closed society determined by race, where whites ruled from grand plantations while African Americans worked the land.

After the Civil War ended in 1865, slavery ended. Nevertheless, the Union victory did not bring true freedom for blacks, just a different form of bondage called sharecropping. African Americans lived in a world that stripped them of their constitutional rights and their dignity.

Damage to the soil and invasions of the boll weevil finally broke "King Cotton's" rule. Thousands of blacks left the South, moving upriver to industrial cities in the North. Yet even in many northern regions, it was nearly 100 years after the Civil War before African Americans achieved their first measures of racial justice.

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Did you know … ?
Under the sharecropping system, the 'cropper' owed the landowner half of the proceeds from his harvest. However, previous years' loans for food, clothing, and other necessities consumed the rest. No money was left over as the sharecroppers needed more money from the landowner simply to survive … and the cycle resumed.

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This section "Riverfront Property" has the following related pages:
The South

Continue through exhibit

2 men in a canoe
Early Exploration and Development
steamboat
River Days
You are here!
view of Bellview, Iowa
Riverfront Property
Civil War enenactors
Man vs. Man
Bald eagle and conservation officer
Man vs. Nature
jazz musician
The Arts Along the River
New Orleans graveyard
Legends and Spirits
View Selected Artifacts
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