From relatively modest beginnings, R. J. launched the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, which would eventually develop two hugely profitable products, Prince Albert pipe tobacco and Camel cigarettes. His marriage in 1905 to Katharine Smith, a dynamic woman thirty years his junior, marked the beginning of a unique partnership that went well beyond the family. As a couple, the Reynoldses conducted a far-ranging social life and, under Katharine's direction, built Reynolda House, a breathtaking estate and model farm. Providing leadership to a series of progressive reform movements and business innovations, they helped drive one of the South's best examples of rapid urbanization and changing race relations in the city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Together they became one of the New South's most influential elite couples. Upon R. J.'s death, Katharine reinvented herself, marrying a World War I veteran many years her junior and engaging in a significant new set of philanthropic pursuits.
Katharine and R. J. Reynolds reveals the broad economic, social, cultural, and political changes that were the backdrop to the Reynoldses' lives. Portraying a New South shaped by tensions between rural poverty and industrial transformation, white working-class inferiority and deeply entrenched racism, and the solidification of a one-party political system, Gillespie offers a masterful life-and-times biography of these important North Carolinians.
This volume features seven essays that range widely across the region and its history, from the antebellum era to the present, to assess the role of innovations presumed lacking by most historians. Offering a challenging interpretation of industrialization in the South, these writings show that the benefits of innovations had to be carefully weighed against the costs to both industry and society.
The essays consider a wide range of innovative technologies. Some examine specific industries in subregions: steamboats in the lower Mississippi valley, textile manufacturing in Georgia and Arkansas, coal mining in Virginia, and sugar planting and processing in Louisiana. Others consider the role of technology in South Carolina textile mills around the turn of the twentieth century, the electrification of the Tennessee valley, and telemedicine in contemporary Arizona--marking the expansion of the region into the southwestern Sunbelt.
Together, these articles show that southerners set significant limitations on what technological innovations they were willing to adopt, particularly in a milieu where slaveholding agriculture had shaped the allocation of resources. They also reveal how scarcity of capital and continued reliance on agriculture influenced that allocation into the twentieth century, relieved eventually by federal spending during the Depression and its aftermath that sparked the Sunbelt South's economic boom.
Technology, Innovation, and Southern Industrialization clearly demonstrates that the South's embrace of technological innovation in the modern era doesn't mark a radical change from the past but rather signals that such pursuits were always part of the region's economy. It deflates the myth of southern agrarianism while expanding the scope of antebellum American industrialization beyond the Northeast and offers new insights into the relationship of southern economic history to the region's society and politics.
These essays highlight North Carolina's progressive streak and its positive impact on women's education—for white and black alike— beginning in the antebellum period on through new opportunities that opened up in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They explore the ways industrialization drew large numbers of women into the paid labor force for the first time and what the implications of this tremendous transition were; they also examine the women who challenged traditional gender roles, as political leaders and labor organizers, as runaways, and as widows. The volume is especially attuned to differences in region within North Carolina, delineating women's experiences in the eastern third of the state, the piedmont, and the western mountains.
Thomas Dixon Jr. (1864--1946), best remembered today as the author of the racist novels that served as the basis for D. W. Griffith's controversial 1915 classic film The Birth of a Nation, also enjoyed great renown in his lifetime as a minister, lecturer, lawyer, and actor. Although this native southerner's blatantly racist, chauvinistic, and white supremacist views are abhorrent today, his contemporary audiences responded enthusiastically to Dixon. In Thomas Dixon Jr. and the Birth of Modern America, distinguished scholars of religion, film, literature, music, history, and gender studies offer a provocative examination of Dixon's ideas, personal life, and career and in the process illuminate the evolution of white racism in the early twentieth century and its legacy down to the present. The contributors analyze Dixon's sermons, books, plays, and films seeking to understand the appeal of his message within the white culture of the Progressive era. They also explore the critical responses of African Americans contemporary with Dixon. By delving into the context and complexity of Dixon's life, the contributors also raise fascinating questions about the power of popular culture in forming Americans' views in any age.
"An important and valuable addition to the literature on turn-of-the-century white supremacy." -- Journal of Southern History