Creating the Modern South: Millhands and Managers in Dalton, Georgia, 1884-1984

By Douglas Flamming | Go to book overview

3
PATTERNS OF PROTEST

As prophets of the New South, Dalton's business elite foretold a harmonious relationship between management and labor. "The success of the man who pays the wages, means the success of the man who works for wages," the Dalton Argus had asserted in 1886. Boosters assumed that everyone would benefit from and support industrial development. They should have known better. During the antebellum era, many southerners had pointed toward New England as an example of what their society should not become, claiming that the emerging factory system turned working people into "wage slaves." Dixie's postbellum boosters tried to bury such concerns under a pile of upbeat rhetoric that emphasized the positive aspects of economic modernization. They insisted that industrial relations in southern textiles would remain cordial because the unity of southern whites would undermine the potential for class conflict. These notions of white supremacy and worker docility endured as mainstays of regional discourse for decades to come, but in reality the harmony between wealthy whites and poor whites in the New South broke down almost at the start. In the late 1880s and the 1890s, uprisings among factory workers and small farmers

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