The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976 Page: 478
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
While all the states have witnessed the rise of two-party politics and, with
the exception of West Virginia, have grown economically, Peirce does not
believe such changes mean that things are necessarily getting better. In the
urban areas of Virginia, for example, economic growth is occurring so fast
that there is a possibility that much of the splendid countryside will be
ruined forever. With the current energy crisis, many fear that the coal
companies in Appalachia will engage in more strip mining and more
exploitation of the region's rich resources.
For readers who want a general survey of twentieth-century southern
political history, Monroe Lee Billington's new book provides a narrative
account. He emphasizes how much southern politics have changed since
I96O and how the process of change is still going on today. Ahead he sees
a real possibility of a durable coalition developing between black and white
moderates and liberals. This interracial coalition will find a home in the
Democratic party, he believes, while economic conservatives will join the
If Professor Billington had read Southern Politics and the Second Recon-
struction, he might have moderated his contention that an interracial coali-
tion will soon emerge in the South. Numan V. Bartley and Hugh D.
Graham strongly disagree with that prediction. After examining voting
patterns in the region from 1948 to 1974, Bartley and Graham have pro-
duced the most careful analysis of twentieth-century political trends since
V. O. Key's Southern Politics in State and Nation (1949).
In fact, the authors set out to test a suggestion that Key made. Key
described the South of the late 194os as having a social and political system
characterized by disfranchisement, malapportionment, one-party politics,
and a Jim Crow system of racial segregation. He predicted that if these
four institutions fell, a New Deal type politics would develop in which blacks
and low-income whites would form the basis of a liberal coalition. During
the last two decades those four features have been either totally removed
or greatly modified. Despite that momentous change, Bartley and Graham
found that the South's conservative political and social legacy continued
during the 96o0s and I970s. At the heart of that conservative tradition lay
a deep division between black and white people that militated against an
economic class coalition. Since the Brown decision of I954, low-income
whites have shifted from support of economic reforms to defense of social
conservatism. By the close of the I960s a pattern had developed in which
low-income whites displayed a preference for segregationist candidates;
affluent urban and suburban whites voted Republican; and blacks sup-
ported the most liberal candidate available In the 1972 presidential election
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976, periodical, 1975/1976; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101203/m1/535/: accessed April 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.