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Period of political unrest


White League
White League

Farmers in this period were suffering throughout the country. Besides the low prices of farm products, major causes of unrest were the growing indebtedness to merchants and banks and excessive freight rates imposed by the railroads. In the 1870s and 1880s American farmers under midwestern leadership formed self-help groups such as the Grange and Farmers’ Alliances. When these organizations decided that agricultural grievances had to be addressed with political action, the dominance of the Democrats in the South was threatened. This threat was complicated by the fact that the Democrats stood for white power, while the farmers’ groups were willing to attract black farmers to their cause. The movement nationwide was called populism and resulted in an important third political party, the People’s Party. In Louisiana the party reached its height in the elections of 1894 and 1896. Its candidate, John Pharr, lost the governorship race in 1896 through massive, blatant vote fraud and violent intimidation. Twenty-one lynchings occurred in Louisiana that year, one-fifth of the total for the entire nation. Demoralized, the populist movement lost its momentum in Louisiana by 1900.

At New Orleans, river traffic, which had practically ceased during the Civil War, revived after the war, following the resumption of large-scale cotton production throughout the South. Prospects of increased foreign trade were enhanced by the completion in 1879 of a system of jetties that permanently deepened the channel at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The jetties made it easier for large oceangoing vessels to enter the mouth of the river. New Orleans further benefited from considerable railroad building that occurred in Louisiana, as well as outside the state.

By the early 20th century, New Orleans had regained its position as one of the nation’s leading ports. The city’s commercial growth was further stimulated by the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 and the consequent burgeoning of trade with Latin America. "Louisiana" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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