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Boll Weevil BluesCotton, Myth, and Power in the American South$
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James C. Giesen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226292878

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226292854.001.0001

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

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

(p.46) Chapter 3 “Map Maker, Troublemaker, History Maker”: The Boll Weevil Threatens the Delta
Boll Weevil Blues
University of Chicago Press

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

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