Industrial Capitalism Comes to Southern Appalachia: The Effects on Society and Religion

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Industrial capitalism comes to Southern Appalachia 1860-1940: The effects on society and religion Appalachia has long been regarded as a place of natural beauty and allegedly 'backwards' people. In one of the early attempts to 'civilize' rural Appalachia, the population was characterized as consisting of "agricultural savages" who refused to learn better farming practices (Anglin 2002: 565). "The poverty and environmental abuse I witnessed there were not simply a failure of economics. It went much deeper than that; hence our continual failure to 'social engineer' meaningful changes there. It was a poverty of the spirit; a poverty of the soul" said one observer, of the attempt to encourage rural Appalachians to adopt modern farming practices at the turn of the 20th century (Anglin 2002: 565-566). Other than subsistence farming, the only other predominant industry in rural Appalachia is the coal industry. Rather than provide a potential source of enrichment to the region, this too has been seen as impoverishing, rather than sustaining the residents. "Appalachia has become virtually synonymous with coal and problems of the notoriously dangerous, cyclically unstable, and highly competitive industry" (Pudup 1990: 61). Historically, the origins of settlements in Southern Appalachia were not so unpromising. "Attracted by plentiful game, local availability of precious resources like salt, and fertile and relatively cheap land, settlers in southeast Kentucky differed little

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