Lowcountry Time and Tide
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In mapping the slow decline of the rice kingdom across the half-century following the Civil War, James H. Tuten offers a provocative new vision of the forces—agricultural, environmental, economic, cultural, and climatic—stacked against planters, laborers, and millers struggling to perpetuate their once-lucrative industry through the challenging postbellum years and into the hardscrabble twentieth century.

Concentrating his study on the vast rice plantations of the Heyward, Middleton, and Elliott families of South Carolina, Tuten narrates the ways in which rice producers—both the former grandees of the antebellum period and their newly freed slaves—sought to revive rice production. Both groups had much invested in the economic recovery of rice culture during Reconstruction and the beginning decades of the twentieth century. Despite all disadvantages, rice planting retained a perceived cultural mystique that led many to struggle with its farming long after the profits withered away. Planters tried a host of innovations, including labor contracts with former slaves, experiments in mechanization, consolidation of rice fields, and marketing cooperatives in their efforts to rekindle profits, but these attempts were thwarted by the insurmountable challenges of the postwar economy and a series of hurricanes that destroyed crops and the infrastructure necessary to sustain planting. Taken together, these obstacles ultimately sounded the death knell for the rice kingdom.

The study opens with an overview of the history of rice culture in South Carolina through the Reconstruction era and then focuses on the industry's manifestations and decline from 1877 to 1930. Tuten offers a close study of changes in agricultural techniques and tools during the period and demonstrates how adaptive and progressive rice planters became despite their conservative reputations. He also explores the cultural history of rice both as a foodway and a symbol of wealth in the lowcountry, used on currency and bedposts. Tuten concludes with a thorough treatment of the lasting legacy of rice culture, especially in terms of the environment, the continuation of rice foodways and iconography, and the role of rice and rice plantations in the modern tourism industry.



Publié par
Date de parution 26 novembre 2012
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781611172164
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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Lowcountry Time and Tide
Lowcountry Time and Tide
The Fall of the South Carolina Rice Kingdom
James H. Tuten
2010 University of South Carolina
Cloth edition published by the University of South Carolina Press, 2010 Ebook edition published in Columbia, South Carolina, by the University of South Carolina Press, 2013
22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
The Library of Congress has cataloged the cloth edition as follows:
Tuten, James H.
Lowcountry time and tide : the fall of the South Carolina rice kingdom / James H. Tuten.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-57003-926-3 (cloth : alk. paper)
1. Rice trade-South Carolina-History-19th century. 2. Rice-South Carolina-History-19th century. 3. Plantations-South Carolina- History-19th century. 4. South Carolina-Social life and customs-19th century. 5. Rice trade-South Carolina-History-20th century. 6. Rice- South Carolina-History-20th century. 7. Plantations-South Carolina- History-20th century. 8. South Carolina-Social life and customs-20th century. I. Title.
HD9066.U46S725 2010
338.1 73180 9757-dc22
Portions of chapter 3 appeared in Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux and Cary J. Mock, eds., Historical Climate Variability and Impacts in North American (New York: Springer, 2009). They appear here with kind permission of Springer Science and Business Media.
ISBN 978-1-61117-216-4 (ebook)
For Belle For you I know I d even try to turn the tide
List of Illustrations
PART I : Chronological View of Rice Culture
1. A Brief History of Rice Culture to the 1870s
2. The Planter Imperative, 1872-1893
3. The Collapse of the Rice Culture, 1893-1929
PART II : Themes in Postbellum Rice Culture
4. Changes in Agricultural Practice
5. Rice as Symbol and Foodway
Epilogue-The Legacies of Lowcountry Rice Culture
Ace Basin map
A. T. S. Stoney map
1.1 Rice trunk diagram
1.2 African Americans hoeing rice
1.3 Trunk Minder at flooded rice fields
2.1 O. M. Read on horseback at Hobonny House
2.2 Photograph of E. W. A. Pringle and Unnamed Man
2.3 Portrait of D. C. Heyward
3.1 The Battery after the 1893 hurricane
3.2 Maria and Cesarina after 1893 hurricane
3.3 1911 hurricane photograph
3.4 Charleston Ferry Wharf, 1911 hurricane
3.5 Black women on barge laden with rice
4.1 Bobolink illustration
4.2 Men carrying rice bags, 1879
4.3 Chisolm Rice Mill, Charleston
4.4 West Point Mill engraving
6.1 Geffchen on Hobonny 1924
6.2 Seckenger on Hobonny 1923
1.1 Annual rice cultivation cycle
1.2 Civil War agricultural losses in South Carolina
1.3 Effect of Civil War on rice production
1.4 Effect of Civil War on farm values
2.1 S.C. rice production in census years 1849-1919
2.2 State percentages of U.S. rice production, 1859-1919
3.1 Rice prices, 1899-1915
3.2 Lowcountry storms, 1893-1911
3.3 Last commercial rice planters
3.4 O. M. Read s profits
I never knew my grandmother Myrtle V. Tuten to fail to supply rice at either lunch or dinner. A table without rice could not be a proper meal to her. Culture can function in such a way as to prevent us from asking such apparently absurd questions as Why do we always have rice? In college I came to see that not every family ate this way.
A second formative experience led me to this research. For much of the 1980s my father managed Hobonny Plantation on the Combahee River. The sense of place that I always have when on that or any other rice plantation is visceral. To look at the changes wrought on the coastal marshes and swamps over time is for me akin to marveling at the statue in Shelley s Ozymandias. I paddled in the canals, helped cultivate crops in the rice fields and highlands, explored the derelict tabby houses and the late nineteenth century big house. It seems no matter how long I ponder all that work, all those mosquitoes, all the water, lives and history that ebbed and flooded I am still moved by it.
I am indebted to a host of excellent mentors, family members, friends and colleagues in producing this study. I have been told that the historian s work is very solitary, but happily I have not found that to be true. My adviser Dr. James L. Roark has remained a patient mentor through graduate school and continues to offer guidance. He has taught me about the craft of history, the art of teaching and some important lessons in humanity.
Librarians and archivists from a number of institutions have assisted me throughout my work. John Brunet, Justin Robertson and Kathy Torrente of Emory University provided expertise and friendship. Lynn Jones, Andy Dudash, Mary Murray, and Rob Bleil of the Juniata College library also proved indispensable. Steve Hoffius pointed me toward wonderful collections at the South Carolina Historical Society over a number of years. I owe all the staff there, especially Matthew Lockhart and Michael Coker, a debt. Beth Bilderback at South Caroliniana library assisted me with illustrations.
At Juniata College I have had the help of several wonderful student assistants in the History Department: Earl Rogers, Emily O Donnell, Bridget Hughes, and Amy Hunt. I appreciate their enthusiasm and work.
The travels of a graduate student on limited funds can be a burden on his family and friends. Mark Burckhalter, John and Lisa Thomson, Allan and Kathy Melton, David and Rhonda Cook, and Cal and Cathy Robertson all generously made their homes available. I am blessed with a great mother-in-law, Belle Stoddard, who has bestowed her interest, knowledge, and many out-of-print books on me. My brother, Tim Tuten, and my parents, Henry and Annette Tuten, gave unfailing support and never criticized me for making a career out of graduate school.
A number of friends and colleagues offered suggestions, and encouraged me. In particular I wish to thank David Atwill, Mary Cain, Bill Carrigan, Robert Cuthburt, Naomi Nelson, Richard Porcher, Sam Dennis, and Randy Sparks.
Michael Fitzgerald, Belle S. Tuten, Steve Knepper, and Steve Goodson provided valuable comments on the entire manuscript. The directors of the Lowcountry and Atlantic World program, especially Simon K. Lewis, also gave direction on shaping the manuscript.
I owe deep gratitude to my superb colleagues Dave Hsiung and David Sowell for reading chapters, providing mentorship through this long process, and being the most collegial colleagues one could hope to have.
Several institutions provided help with my research. Emory University supplied summer research grants and other forms of assistance. Juniata College, to put it plainly, invested in me. For this I owe special appreciation to Provost James Lakso and to Joanne Krugh, who have supported me in ways both subtle and obvious.
It has been a pleasure to work with the University of South Carolina Press, especially with Alex Moore.
The greatest source of assistance, support, advice and intellectual example has been my wife, Belle S. Tuten. I can do nothing short of dedicating this to her.
I would like to thank Elizabeth Donovan for her inventive and intrepid work on creating this book s companion Web site, ricekingdom.com.

This is a haunted region, for there is no earthly loneliness like that created by man s abandonment of what he once loved, enjoyed and considered secure and permanent.
Archibald Rutledge, Home by the River , p. 20
The closest I have come to knowing rice plantation mud work was in July 1988 on Hobonny Plantation. Hobonny, a good example of the typical lowcountry rice plantation, totaled around a thousand acres on the south bank of the Combahee River in the southeastern corner of South Carolina. Slaves started carving Hobonny into being 250 years before I set foot on that land. Like most plantations it had wet rice fields abutting the river and wooded acreage and dry fields further from the creeks and canals. The plantation big house, rebuilt in the late nineteenth century, though handsome in its way, would put no one in mind of Tara. The ruins of several tabby houses and barns bore testimony to the long human experience and the slaves who first lived there. July temperatures in Beaufort County, where Hobonny sits, average a high of ninety degrees with the humidity hovering near ninety percent in the mornings. You can work up a sweat standing still in one of those rice fields. The land at first appears to be flat, but the rice fields themselves are set lower than the surrounding earthen dikes, or banks, as rice people called them. The old rice fields are too wet for most trees, so the vista, even today, remains open, and you can see for a mile, mostly to other plantations abandoned rice fields.
My father, Henry Tuten, managed Hobonny at that time for its owner, Savannah businessman T. W. Ericson, who, like many of his plantation-owning contemporaries, had a passion for duck hunting. On that sunbaked July day, my father and I planned to go through one of the few still-arable rice fields to rid it of sesbania, a tall-growing invasive shrub that thrives in wet terrain like old rice fields. In 1988, as in 1888 or 1788, merely walking through a rice field in that climate would leave you gasping for breath, for the soil there-distinct enough to be named Hobonny soil by soil scientists-is at best soft and at a worst a shoe-sucking mire. 1 To eradicate the sesbania, we took turns wearing a backpack sprayer fu

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