As the nineteenth century ended in Hunt County, Texas, a way of life was dying. The tightly knit, fiercely independent society of the yeomen farmers—”plain folk,” as historians have often dubbed them—was being swallowed up by the rising tide of a rapidly changing, cotton-based economy. A social network based on family, religion, and community was falling prey to crippling debt and resulting loss of land ownership. For many of the rural people of Hunt County and similar places, it seemed like the end of the world.
In Yeomen, Sharecroppers, and Socialists historian Kyle G. Wilkison analyzes the patterns of plain-folk life and the changes that occurred during the critical four decades spanning the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. Political protest evolved in the wake of the devastating losses experienced by the poor rural majority, and Wilkison carefully explores the interplay of religion and politics as Greenbackers, Populists, and Socialists vied for the support of the dispossessed tenant farmers and sharecroppers.
With its richly drawn contextualization and analysis of the causes and effects of the epochal shifts in plain-folk society, Kyle G. Wilkison’s Yeomen, Sharecroppers, and Socialists will reward students and scholars in economic, regional, and agricultural history.
What Readers Are Saying:
"I especially liked the chapters about home life and roles of churches in their lives. . . should be in the library of anyone whose family lived on farms during 1870 to 1914 or later. It will provide information about what our ancestors had to do to survive. It is a great book, well written and easy to read." -The Mexia News
"Only a few books deal with Texas' yeomen farmers or its sharecroppers or its socialists. Dr. Wilkison's book utilizes the older works, analyzes the interaction between the three groups, and breaks new ground in the social, economic, and political history of the state during a crucial era." --George N. Green, professor of history, University of Texas at Arlington, auth
"This is an insightful and important analysis of rural Texans and their problems as the state entered the twentieth century." --Alwyn Barr, professor of history, Texas Tech University, author of The Afr
". . . reveals a dynamic plain folk culture, an assertive people who, though victimized by circumstances beyond their control, nonetheless proved willing to challenge the mechanisms of injustice that inhibited their social and political empowerment. Combining extensive historiographical and quantitative analysis with captivating personal detail, Wilkison's reconsideration of the Texas plain folk is certain to serve as a model for future studies. It is a must for those who seek to understand the complexities of southern sociopolitical development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries."--Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries
"The book displays an impressive amount of research and some superb analysis...Yeomen, Sharecroppers, and Socialists is a fascinating work. . . it will likely affect research on Southwestern radicalism for years to come." -- Nigel Anthony Sellars, Christopher Newport University
"Wilkison does not mince his words but makes his points clear and precise."
"Wilkison's monograph warrants professional recognition because he explains the choices mde by a distinct minority within the white landless farmer majority"