By Bryant Simon

During this e-book, Bryant Simon brings to lifestyles the politics of white South Carolina millhands throughout the first 1/2 the 20th century. His revealing and relocating account explores how this workforce of southern workers considered and took part in politics and public power.

Taking a wide view of politics, Simon appears to be like at employees as they engaged in political job 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, wearing placards, marching at the country capital, writing to lawmakers, and picketing factories. those millhands' politics mirrored their private and non-private concepts approximately whiteness and blackness,
war and the hot Deal, democracy and justice, gender and sexuality, classification relatives and intake.

Ultimately, the folk depicted listed here are neither romanticized nor disregarded because the stereotypically racist and uneducated "rednecks" present in many bills of southern politics. Southern staff understood the political and social forces that formed their lives, argues Simon, they usually developed
complex political innovations to house these forces.

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

Sample text

In the end, demographics, the rules of the political game, and legislative apportionment stacked the deck against South Carolina millhands, making it hard for them to control the state's political agenda. The story that follows is told in three acts. Chapter 1 sets the stage. First there is a double murder, and then the action moves around the figure of Coleman Livingston Blease. During the summer of 1914, in a typical scene, millhands skipped work and spent all day outside in the shimmering heat to listen to Blease.

But divorced from the means of production, white men, whether or not they had the right to vote, could easily be reduced to dependencythat is, placed under the control of others and in the same vulnerable position as women, children, and slaves. Reduced to this status, they would be defenseless against an almost certain aristocratic attack on their social and political privileges. 31 Emancipation threw the intellectual universe of white yeomen into chaos. Shortly afterward, suffragethat coveted distinction of independence and masculinitywas defined by sex alone.

Because identity stems from day-to-day experiences and the interpretations of these experiences, it is never static. As economic, social, and political conditions change, new meanings are constructed and old ways of thinking are transformed. Identity, in other words, is always in flux, perpetually being made and remade. This means that people's ideas about right and wrong, virtue and vice, race and class, gender and sex are constantly changing. Rarely, however, were mill people's shifting notions about politics and society taken seriously, except perhaps by the politicians who sought their votes.

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A Fabric of Defeat: The Politics of South Carolina Millhands, 1910-1948 by Bryant Simon


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