“Map Maker, Troublemaker, History Maker”: The Boll Weevil Threatens the Delta

in Boll Weevil Blues

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780226292878
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226292854 | DOI:
“Map Maker, Troublemaker, History Maker”: The Boll Weevil Threatens the Delta

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This chapter addresses the anxiety of the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta about the boll weevil. The boll weevil forced planters to tighten their grip on Delta society. From the moment of its arrival in 1908 to the start of the New Deal, the same white landowners exercised their social, political, and economic power over black sharecroppers by using their control of the Delta's physical environment as their main weapon. It is noted that the Delta could be saved from the boll weevil by its geographic location and the presence of its powerful planter class. The farmers were reluctantly encouraged to plant crops other than cotton, but only on “surplus land.” The myth of the boll weevil's wholesale destruction of the plantation system had troubled Delta society even before the pest itself attained the alluvial region. There was no mass exodus of labor from the Delta during the boll weevil's initial foray into northwest Mississippi.

Keywords: boll weevil; Yazoo-Mississippi Delta; Delta society; cotton; plantation system

Chapter.  12032 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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