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A Fabric of Defeat: The Politics of South Carolina Millhands, 1910-1948 / Edition 1

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Overview

In this book, Bryant Simon brings to life the politics of white South Carolina millhands during the first half of the twentieth century. His revealing and moving account explores how this group of southern laborers thought about and participated in politics and public power.

Taking a broad view of politics, Simon looks at laborers as they engaged in political activity in many venues—at the polling station, on front porches, and on the shop floor—and examines their political involvement at the local, state, and national levels. He describes the campaign styles and rhetoric of such politicians as Coleman Blease and Olin Johnston (himself a former millhand), who eagerly sought the workers' votes. He draws a detailed picture of mill workers casting ballots, carrying placards, marching on the state capital, writing to lawmakers, and picketing factories. These millhands' politics reflected their public and private thoughts about whiteness and blackness,
war and the New Deal, democracy and justice, gender and sexuality, class relations and consumption.

Ultimately, the people depicted here are neither romanticized nor dismissed as the stereotypically racist and uneducated "rednecks" found in many accounts of southern politics. Southern workers understood the political and social forces that shaped their lives, argues Simon, and they developed
complex political strategies to deal with those forces.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This deeply researched and well-written volume stands as a rigorous study that fills a real need.

Journal of Social History

An interesting and valuable contribution to our understanding of twentieth-century white southern legal culture.

American Historical Review

A significant addition to the new scholarship on southern working-class whites.

The Journal of Southern History

[P]rovides an unusually engaging perspective on twentieth-century southern working-class history.

The Journal of American History

Represents essential reading for those who seek a deeper understanding of the American south's tortured course in the twentieth century.

Business History

From the Publisher
This deeply researched and well-written volume stands as a rigorous study that fills a real need.

Journal of Social History

An interesting and valuable contribution to our understanding of twentieth-century white southern legal culture.

American Historical Review

A significant addition to the new scholarship on southern working-class whites.

The Journal of Southern History

[P]rovides an unusually engaging perspective on twentieth-century southern working-class history.

The Journal of American History

Represents essential reading for those who seek a deeper understanding of the American south's tortured course in the twentieth century.

Business History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807847046
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 6/15/1998
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Bryant Simon is assistant professor of history at the University of Georgia.
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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction

1. The Man for Office Is Cole Blease
2. Bleasism in Decline, 1924-1930
3. Searching for Answers to the Great Depression
4. We the People of the U.S.A.: New Deal Americanism on the Mill Hills
5. Mr. Roosevelt Ain't Going to Stand for This: New Deal Battles, 1933-1934
6. The General Textile Strike, September 1934
7. The Enthronement of Textile Labor: The 1934 Governor's Race
8. When Votes Don't Add Up: Olin D. Johnston and the Workers' Compensation Act, 1935-1937
9. Fighting for the Right to Strike, 1935-1936
10. They Don't Like Us Because We're Lintheads: The Highway Fight, 1935-1937
11. The Carpetbaggers Are Coming: The 1938 Senate Race
12. The New Politics of Race, 1938-1948
Conclusion

Appendix
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Illustrations
A mill house in Graniteville in the mid-1930s
An overview of a mill village in Newberry, ca. 1910
"The mill" in Graniteville, 1935
A lynching in the South Carolina upcountry before World War I
A stump meeting in Walterboro, 1946
A Blease campaign poster, probably from 1914
National Guardsmen prying open a picket line of company loyalists in Greenville, 1934
Millhands comforting a UTW member wounded in picket-line violence, September 1934
Children playing with National Guardsmen at the Woodside Mills, Greenville, during the General Textile Strike
Cartoon: "Weekly Newsmap of South Carolina," September 1934
Olin D. Johnston chatting with another politician, 1943
"Cotton Ed" Smith and wife shaking hands with voters, 1944

Maps
1. South Carolina Counties, 1929
2. Textile Spindleage in South Carolina, by County, 1929

Tables
3.1 Population of Spartanburg County, Selected Years, 1900-1940
3.2 Population of Mill Village in Spartanburg County, 1925 and 1937
A.1 Percentage of Vote for Coleman L. Blease versus James F. Byrnes, U.S. Senate Runoff, 1924
A.2 Percentage of Vote for Coleman L. Blease versus James F. Byrnes, U.S. Senate Runoff, 1930
A.3 Percentage of Vote for Olin D. Johnston versus Ibra C. Blackwood, Gubernatorial Runoff, 1930
A.4 Percentage of Vote for Olin D. Johnston versus Ibra C. Blackwood, Gubernatorial Runoff, 1934
A.5 Percentage of Vote for Olin D. Johnston versus Ellison D. Smith, U.S. Senate Runoff, 1938
A.6 Annual Earnings of South Carolina Textile Workers, 1909-1937

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