Source: American Experience
The most famous family conflict in American history, the Hatfield-McCoy feud has evolved into a mythic American tale of jealousy, rage, and revenge — and one which helped create the negative “hillbilly” stereotype that has shaped attitudes towards Appalachia for more than a century.
Yet the truth is much more than a tale of two warring families. It’s the story of a region and its people forced into sudden change by eastern capitalists, who transformed Appalachia from an agrarian mountain community into a coal and timber producing workplace owned and run primarily by outside interests.
“The Hatfield-McCoy feud conjures up this exaggerated image of two warring families shooting at each other across a river for no good reason, but the story of the feud is really about the impact of capitalism and industrialization on rural America,” says director Randall MacLowry. “Mountain families lost their land and their livelihoods in the face of this enormous pressure, and became the victims of media accounts that depicted them as violent, uncivilized, and standing in the way of progress. The Hatfield-McCoy feud is part of that story.”
“The Feud” premieres Tuesday, September 10 on PBS.
Read the story at American Experience.