The old South was largely agrarian, and its economy was primarily based on crops like cotton that had low market prices. The American Civil War devastated the economy of the South, leading to the development of the word New South in 1874. This is where the southerners envisaged an economic change from an entirely agricultural culture to one that embraced industrialization, similar to the Northern states.
For example, New South proponents such as Henry Grady encouraged the southerners to leave its long-standing economy based on agriculture in favor of a modern economy based on industries. The changes that occurred in the New South era were the emergence of tobacco industries and textile mills.
The developed industries became critical to the southerners’ economy after the Reconstruction era. However, the ambitions for a New South were generally unsuccessful as rural poverty lingered throughout much of the South long into the twentieth century.