New Men, New Cities, New South: Atlanta, Nashville, Charleston, Mobile, 1860-1910

By Don H. Doyle | Go to book overview

6
Atlanta Spirit

We have raised a brave and beautiful city. -- Henry Grady, 1886

A businessman visiting Atlanta passed outside a banquet hall in the Kimball House Hotel and stood transfixed by a spectacle of community enterprise. "Why during the hour I stood by that door I saw and I heard more enthusiasm than I have ever observed in all my life apart from a Confederate Veterans' meeting." Some four hundred businessmen inside, described as "the cream of the business element in Atlanta," were gathered to launch an industrial exposition and were being treated to speeches on Atlanta's past and future. They cheered lustily on every occasion their city was even mentioned. "It was the one word -- ' Atlanta' -- that set the gathering to making a noise, a sort of talisman for a Babylonian confusion." The visitor was amazed at the excitement a city could inspire: "To me it seemed that it was Atlanta alone every one in the banquet hall loved. For the time being at least every man present appeared to have forgotten his wife, his home, his father, his mother, his sweetheart. Atlanta was the all in all." "Nothing on earth," he concluded, "can delay the advancement and the growth of a town which has such loyal, loving, devoted citizens as were gathered in that banquet hall last night."1

What the visitor saw at the Kimball House was an example of the typically boisterous celebration of local patriotism that flourished in the New South and developed to its fullest in Atlanta. Boosters expressed the community's faith in its capacity to shape its own destiny. This faith sprang from a set of common goals capable of uniting the business elite who were the major stockholders and directors in this enterprise of city building. At the same time, the booster ethos countered powerful forces of competition and factional conflict that divided the business class. City boosting subordinated the pursuit of self-aggrandizement to the collective task of city building and demanded organized rather than individual entrepreneurship. Whatever the booster spirit actually did for

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New Men, New Cities, New South: Atlanta, Nashville, Charleston, Mobile, 1860-1910
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Contents viii
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • 1 - The Urbanization Of Dixie 1
  • 2 - The New Order of Things 22
  • 3 - Ebb Tide 51
  • 4 - New Men 87
  • 5 - Patrician and Parvenu 111
  • 6 - Atlanta Spirit 136
  • 7 - The Charleston Style 159
  • 8 - New Class 189
  • 9 - Gentility and Mirth 226
  • 10 - The New Paternalism 260
  • 11 - Paternalism and Pessimism 290
  • Epilogue 313
  • Notes 319
  • Index 363
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