Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Jason Phillips

Committee Member

Brian Luskey

Committee Member

Kenneth Fones-Wolf

Committee Member

Melissa Bingmann

Committee Member

Paula M. Kane


Broadly speaking, this dissertation explores the intersection of industrialization and social reform in the nineteenth-century American South. It focuses on leading manufacturers of the Deep South and their mill towns during the Civil War era. More precisely, it investigates the relationship between these industrialists, their mill towns, and social reform efforts of the period. In the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s, William Gregg, Daniel Pratt, and Barrington King created and managed some of the largest and most financially successful manufacturing establishments in the entire South. These men, however, were more than simply industrialists. They were also idealistic and steadfast social reformers who crafted and implemented ambitious programs of social reform in their respective mill towns. Interpreting Gregg, Pratt, and King in this manner adds significantly to our understanding of social reform efforts in the antebellum South. Moreover, so doing allows us to gain a more nuanced understanding of southern society and culture before the Civil War.

In addition to the history of social reform in the antebellum South, this work also contributes to the history of slavery and capitalism in early nineteenth-century America. The story of William Gregg and the Graniteville Manufacturing Company underscores the commercial interconnectedness of the North and the South during the period. Furthermore, by exploring southern textile manufacturing for northern markets, it complements recent work on northern industrial production for southern markets. Finally, the stories of all of the manufacturers under examination and their industrial enterprises reveal that industry in the Deep South and its white wage laborers relied on slavery’s capitalism to survive. Free labor supported slavery in the Deep South.