Assesses the economic status of the South during textile industrialization
The first full-length account of the advent of the cotton-textile industry in the region, The Rise of Cotton Mills in the South immediately defined industrialization in the rural South upon its publication in 1921. Its influence was widely felt by southern intellectuals and shaped the interpretation of southern industrialization in many works, including W. J. Cash's The Mind of the South.
Broadus Mitchell pieced together his idealistic chronicle of the southern textile industry founders through intensive research of publications, business records, and numerous oral-history interviews. However, Mitchell's sunny account is more than a mere apologia for a harsh industrial regime. His scholarship reads as a progressive's endorsement of a southern industrial "revolution from above," to elevate the South from its economic and cultural doldrums. Like many forward thinkers of his time, Mitchell viewed industrialization as necessary for southern progress and believed that its benefits to the South ultimately reached far beyond its profits to mill owners. Regarded as Mitchell's heir in his methodology and intellectual rigor, David L. Carlton crafts a lengthy introduction that further explores the economic philosophies of Mitchell—giving a sturdy framework to this history. The Rise of Cotton Mills in the South remains a valuable assessment of a historical moment—a time when a vanguard of self-proclaimed "progressive" white southerners sought to use machinery and industrial organization to remake a retrograde region in the image of the modern world.
A graduate from Johns Hopkins University, Broadus Mitchell (1891–1986) was a professor of economics and renowned biographer of Alexander Hamilton. He authored and coauthored numerous books, including William Gregg, Factory Master of the Old South and Industrial Revolution in the South.
David L. Carlton is an associate professor of history at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the author of Mill and Town in South Carolina, 1880–1920. Carlton lives in Nashville.