Friday, February 1, 2013

Alluvial Plains of Arkansas

Mississippi Alluvial Plain
aka: Mississippi Delta, Arkansas Delta, Delta, Mississippi River Delta
The Mississippi Alluvial Plain (a.k.a. Delta) is a distinctive natural region, in part because of its flat surface configuration and the dominance of physical features created by the flow of large streams. This unique physiography occupies much of eastern Arkansas including all or parts of twenty-seven counties. The Alluvial Plain, flatter than any other region in the state, has elevations ranging from 100 to 300 feet above sea level. In Arkansas, the Alluvial Plain extends some 250 miles in length from north to south and varies in width from east to west from only twelve miles in Desha County to as much as ninety-one miles measured from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Mississippi River.

....terrain and soil suitable for large-scale farming. In fact, the Mississippi Alluvial Plain is one of the most agriculturally productive regions in the world.
Alluvial (stream-deposited).

Slaveholding and cotton plantations were especially concentrated in the fertile river bottom lands of eastern Arkansas’s Mississippi River Delta and in southern Arkansas’s Gulf Coastal Plain,
(The Gulf Coastal Plain is an area of relatively gently sloping terrain extending across the southern portion of the United States from Texas to Georgia. It was covered by the waters of the Gulf of Mexico until about 50 million years ago)

This region of East and Southern ARKANSAS... accounted for and held about 74% of the state’s SLAVE POPULATION by 1860.

Small to Medium sized Plantations in this particular areas of AR ---  which may have been like the James A Anderson plantation. 

In 1860, there were 12,131 slaves (eleven percent) belonged to white families owning from one to four slaves

Notably, a larger number of slaves, about 48,000 slaves (forty-three percent) belonged to owners who held from five to twenty-four slaves.

For such slaves -- Like Lucinda Smith b. 1948.... who would have been child-bearing 1860.  Her last of 14 children was Bell Smith b. 1895 in Chicot, AR....   She as a slave resided on maybe such a small or medium-sized farm/plantation.   Her work as a cook, like the other slaves..... a work regimens and physical circumstances may not have differed radically from those of their white owners.

Again, in 1860, there were over 51,000 slaves (forty-six percent) working on the large estates --  (funny how this website denotes household... a slave is a slave, a plantation is a plantation...) 
There were over 51,00 slaves being owned by the nine percent of Arkansas White slaveholders who possessed from twenty-five to over 500 slaves.

In this case, slaves generally had less direct contact with their white owners, and the disparity in living conditions was much greater.

While slaves working on large plantations had less opportunity to develop individual ties with their masters, they also had more autonomy. It was on these larger units that true slave communities began to develop and flourish, including African tribal-influenced religious services, traditional folk medicine, and West African folk stories involving animals such as the famous “Brer Rabbit.” The plantation slave communities functioned as extended families. There was no such thing as legal marriages for slaves, and the immediate family could be shattered at any moment by slave sales or estate distributions. Under such circumstances, the personal ties that could develop within the slave communities and the system of mutual practical and emotional support that the slave communities could offer were invaluable.

Oh Well..

Now let's talk POLITICS in this Alluvial Delta area of Arkansas!  vs the Northwestern part of AR

Between 1890 and 1968, thousands of towns across the United States drove out their black populations or took steps to forbid African Americans from living in them. Thus were created “sundown towns,” so named because many marked their city limits with signs typically reading, “Nigger, Don't Let The Sun Go Down On You In Alix”—an Arkansas town in Franklin County that had such a sign around 1970. By 1970, when sundown towns were at their peak, more than half of all incorporated communities outside the traditional South probably excluded African Americans, including probably more than a hundred towns in the northwestern two-thirds of Arkansas. White residents of the traditional South rarely engaged in the practice; they kept African Americans down but hardly drove them out. Accordingly, no sundown town has yet been confirmed in the southeastern third of Arkansas that lies east of a line from Brightstar (Miller County) to Blytheville (Mississippi County), and only three likely suspects have emerged.

Much of this area had been Unionist during the Civil War. Until 1890, white residents had maintained fairly good relations with their small African-American populations, partly because African Americans and white non-Democrats were political allies. Then, election law changes and Democratic violence made interracial coalitions impractical. Now, it would not pay to be anything but a Democrat. Allied with this Democratic resurgence, a wave of neo-Confederate nationalism swept Arkansas: most Ozark county histories written after 1890 tell of the war exclusively from the Confederate point of view. More than ever, it was in the interest of white populations to distance themselves from African Americans. Precisely in counties where residents had been Unionists, white residents now often seemed impelled to prove themselves ultra-Confederate and manifested the most robust anti-black fervor

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