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2019 Reprint of 1963 Edition. Full facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition software. The biography of the Cumberland Plateau in Appalachia begins in the violence of the Indian Wars and ends in the despair of the idle miners living off Welfare. Two hundred years ago the plateau was a land of promise. The deep, twisting valleys contained rich bottomlands; the mountainsides, teeming with game, produced mighty timer. The people who settled this land in the eighteenth century were the sweepings of the English slums--but they produced great explorers like Simon Kenton and Jim Bridger. They lived by scratch farming, hunting and moonshine whiskey. The Civil War ravaged the land, leaving in its wake a legacy of hate which erupted into the great Kentucky mountain feuds and continued in the “Moonshine Wars” of the Prohibition Era.
When Caudill first wrote in 1962 the Cumberland Plateau was a wasteland of refuse-clogged streams, sterile hillsides, abandoned company towns and great piles of slag and rusting automobiles. The people were often illiterate, clannish and grim, but their fighting spirit was sapped and many, if not most, lived on welfare, which they regarded as their right. Schools were atrocious where they existed and the remaining coal was being ruthlessly gouged out by strip mining operations that, ironically, fed the gargantuan industrial complex of the TVA.
The publication of this book was a clarion call to action to address the distress of this region and resulted in the creation of the Appalachian Regional Commission, an agency that has pumped millions of dollars into Appalachia.
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