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Labor Industrial Relations

A Fabric of Defeat: The Politics of South Carolina by Bryant Simon

By Bryant Simon

During this publication, Bryant Simon brings to lifestyles the politics of white South Carolina millhands in the course of the first 1/2 the 20 th century. His revealing and relocating account explores how this team of southern workers thought of and took part in politics and public power.

Taking a extensive view of politics, Simon appears at employees as they engaged in political task in lots of venues--at the polling station, on entrance porches, and at the store floor--and examines their political involvement on the neighborhood, country, and nationwide degrees. He describes the crusade types and rhetoric of such politicians as Coleman Blease and Olin Johnston (himself a former millhand), who eagerly sought the staff' votes. He attracts a close photo of mill employees casting ballots, sporting placards, marching at the nation capital, writing to lawmakers, and picketing factories. those millhands' politics mirrored their private and non-private ideas approximately whiteness and blackness,
war and the recent Deal, democracy and justice, gender and sexuality, classification kin and intake.

Ultimately, the folks depicted listed here are neither romanticized nor disregarded because the stereotypically racist and uneducated "rednecks" present in many money owed of southern politics. Southern staff understood the political and social forces that formed their lives, argues Simon, and so they developed
complex political suggestions to accommodate these forces.

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Additional info for A Fabric of Defeat: The Politics of South Carolina Millhands, 1910-1948

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Yeomen interpreted any slight as a slap at their manhood, and they responded sometimes violently and at other times politically. White supremacy, personal autonomy, and the control of dependents in public and privatethese were the values of independence that poor white men brought with them from the countryside to the cotton mill world of South Carolina at the turn of the century. Mill village life challenged long-standing male conceptions of independence. Tending looms and operating carding machines stripped men of control of their time and labor.

Growing inequality, widely fluctuating cotton prices, and falling rates of property ownership followed. 35 Whereas the antebellum conception of independence highlighted property and ownership, in the postbellum era ideas about independence rested on control over others and personal autonomy. No matter how much the market economy encroached on their lives, many plain white folks either owned a small parcel of land or worked as free tenants. Either way, they controlled the means of production and worked free from the supervision of others.

15 But that did not make the state democratic, not even for whites. Besides almost ending black suffrage, the state's 1895 constitution established the basic rules of politics in South Carolina for the next fifty years. Disfranchisement ensured whites a virtual monopoly on state power, but the constitution did not guarantee that all white citizens would be represented equally. For one thing, citizenship was not portable. Voters had to remain in the same place, even the same house, for one year in order to cast a ballot.

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