Tax Rebels: The Rise of the White Property Owner in Cobb County, Georgia
Barron, Mark Alan
Corbin Sies, Mary
MetadataShow full item record
The objective of this dissertation is to document how white property owners in Cobb County, Georgia achieved political, economic, and social influence over local and state affairs by the mid-twentieth century through processes of racial privileging and policy-making. Prior to World War Two, the county’s white property owners were historically divided into two competing political factions of equal demographic size with one faction residing in rural unincorporated parts of the county, and the other in urban centers. For much of their history, these two factions waged political battles against one another over the distribution of real and personal property taxes. In 1937, the two factions joined forces to push for a statewide homestead exemption to lower property taxes collected at the state and county level. The sudden loss of revenue financially devastated local governments across the state. In Cobb, city and county politicians and civic leaders began to search for new ways of raising revenue, including home-building campaigns, expansion of municipal utilities, and the courtship of federal investment. Through a combination of local planning and federal intervention, Cobb County’s quest to raise revenue shaped a racialized built environment that privileged the interests of white homeowners and ultimately influenced how white property owners saw themselves and the world around them through the policy-making process. The primary vehicle for this study will be tax policy, a largely understudied yet critical component of the built environment. The trajectory of the white property owner in Cobb County is complicated, as it ties the effects of local, state, and federal policy-making to sets of identity politics influenced by white supremacy and formed over the course of several decades. It is a study long overdue for investigation as it lays the groundwork for understanding how property and financial self-interest would inform the political and social positions of white homeowners in the second half of the twentieth century. Within this convergence of racial and economic issues, one question is paramount: How did the interconnected political and social formations of white supremacy and property ownership change over time within the context of state and local tax policy debates?