In post-Civil War years agriculture in Mississippi, as elsewhere, was in a depressed condition. The price of cotton steadily declined, and the farmer was hard put to meet the payments on his mortgage. At the same time the corporate and banking interests of the state seemed to prosper. There were reasons for this beyond the ken of the poor hill farmer -- the redneck, as he was popularly termed. But the redneck came to regard this situation -- chronic depression for him while his mercantile neighbor prospered -- as a conspiracy against him, a conspiracy which was aided and abetted by the leaders of his party.
Revolt of the Rednecks: Mississippi Politics 1876--1925 is a study of the struggle of the redneck to gain control of the Democratic Party in orger to effect reforms which would improve his lot. He was to be led into many bypaths and sluggish streams before he was to realize his aim in the election of Vardaman to the governorship in 1903. For almost two decades thereafter the rednecks were to hold undisputed control of the state government. The period was marked by many reforms and by some improvement in the economic plight of the farmer -- an improvement largely owing to factors which were uninfluenced by state politics. The period closes in 1925 with the repudiation and defeat at the polls of the farmers' trusted leaders, Vardaman and Bilbo.