How Ozark residents have seen and lived resistance to the federal government
Long a bastion of antigovernment feeling, the Ozark region today is home to fervent strains of conservative-influenced sentiment. Does rural heritage play an exceptional role in the perpetuation of these attitudes? Have such outlooks been continuous?
J. Blake Perkins searches for the roots of rural defiance in the Ozarks--and discovers how it changed over time. Eschewing generalities, Perkins focuses on the experiences and attitudes of rural people themselves as they interacted with government from the late nineteenth century through the twentieth century.He uncovers the reasons local disputes and uneven access to government power fostered markedly different reactions by hill people as time went by. Resistance in the earlier period sprang from upland small farmers' conflicts with capitalist elites who held the local levers of federal power. But as industry and agribusiness displaced family farms after World War II, a conservative cohort of town business elites, local political officials, and midwestern immigrants arose from the region's new low-wage, union-averse economy. As Perkins argues, this modern antigovernment conservatism bore little resemblance to the backcountry populism of an earlier age but had much in common with the movement elsewhere.