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From Congregation Town to Industrial City

From Congregation Town to Industrial City: Culture and Social Change in a Southern Community

Michael Shirley
Copyright Date: 1994
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 338
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  • Book Info
    From Congregation Town to Industrial City
    Book Description:

    In 1835, Winston and Salem was a well-ordered, bucolic, and attractive North Carolina town. A visitor could walk up Main Street from the village square and get a sense of the quiet Moravian community that had settled here. Yet, over the next half-century, this idyllic village was to experience dramatic changes. The Industrial Revolution calls forth images of great factories, mills, and machinery; yet, the character of the Industrial Revolution went beyond mere changes in modes of production. It meant the radical transformation of economic, social, and political institutions, and the emergence of a new mindset that brought about new ways of thinking and acting. Here is the illuminating story of Winston-Salem, a community of artisans and small farmers united, as members of a religious congregation, by a single vision of life. Transformed in just a few decades from an agricultural region into the home of the smokestacks and office towers of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and the Wachovia Bank and Trust Company, the Moravian community at Salem offers an illuminating illustration of the changes that swept Southern society in the nineteenth century and the concomitant development in these communities of a new ethos. Providing a rich wealth of information about the Winston-Salem community specifically, From Congregation Town to Industrial City also significantly broadens our understanding of how wholesale changes in the nineteenth century South redefined the meaning and experience of community. For, by the end of the century, community had gained an entirely new meaning, namely as a forum in which competing individuals pursued private opportunities and interests.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-8888-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Maps
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    Visitors today to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, can see in the Old Salem restoration village a recreation of the Moravian congregation community and artifacts of congregational life. Old Salem presents a bucolic image of a well-ordered, attractive, even idyllic, village. Walking up Main Street from the village square visitors come to the northern edge of the town and see before them both the smokestacks of the tobacco factories and the office towers of the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and the Wachovia Bank and Trust Company. To their left they see on the opposite hill the brick buildings which originally belonged...

  7. CHAPTER ONE The Congregational Community of the Moravians
    (pp. 5-30)

    Winston-Salem’s history reaches back to pre-Reformation Europe and the fifteenth-century pietistic movements of Moravia and Bohemia led by the disciples of Czech religious reformer Jan Hus. Hus, who advocated a life of piety which emphasized purity in morals and conduct more than doctrine and consistency, gathered about him devoted followers, the Brethren, who organized the church that became known as the Unitas Fratrum. Rejecting the dogma and rituals of the Catholic church, the Unitas Fratrum, which the Brethren believed to be the oldest Protestant church, seceded from the Church of Rome in 1467 and elected its own ministers. After years...

  8. CHAPTER TWO The Congregation and a Changing Economy
    (pp. 31-59)

    Beginning in the late 1820s there was a growing recognition among the Moravians that economic circumstances in the piedmont countryside were changing. Salem and its neighboring countryside were becoming more deeply enmeshed in a market economy that stretched beyond the boundaries of surrounding counties. As people produced an increasing proportion of their total output for exchange rather than for use in the household, they adopted new ways of behavior that demonstrated the influence of a new ethos emphasizing individualism and the private pursuit of opportunity and wealth.¹ Some of the town’s successful shop masters observed new opportunities in deeper involvement...

  9. CHAPTER THREE Manufacturing and Community in Salem
    (pp. 60-93)

    As the Moravians considered the efficacy of congregational regulation of business affairs, several of the ambitious entrepreneurs of Salem, among them Francis Fries, John Christian Blum, and Edward Belo, saw a new future for the community in textile manufacturing. These men advocated the establishment of a mill and made the initial capital investment. By investing in Salem’s first textile mill these entrepreneurs expressed an early confidence in manufacturing and a deeper involvement in an economy that extended beyond the boundaries of Salem and its neighborhood. Like the contemporaneous effort to limit church control of economic activity, the mill-building campaign in...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR Community Culture in Antebellum Salem
    (pp. 94-120)

    Increasing differentiation among the Moravians was expressed in the diverse activities that captured their attention during the second quarter of the nineteenth century. The people of Salem embraced temperance societies, fraternal organizations, evangelical religion, and political parties which prompted William Fries in 1831 to comment that Salem was “in many ways going to extremes … some for Temperance Society or Sunday Schools, others have become quite military.”¹ These activities illustrate the new complexity of life among the townspeople who considered themselves more than just members of a religious congregation. But they also represent attempts to recreate that unity which the...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE The Community at War
    (pp. 121-143)

    The community that had evolved by the end of the antebellum period was unable to contain divisive tensions that occasionally erupted in partisan local politics and that surfaced in the unsettled conditions of the Civil War years. These years revealed the costs to the community of the new identities and interests among the townspeople. Without the old communal ideal of subordinating private ambitions and interests to the spirit of brotherhood and the common good of the congregation, social tensions and disorders plagued the community as the townspeople competed in the market for scarce goods and challenged each other for positions...

  12. CHAPTER SIX Postbellum Winston and Salem: The Emergence of a Business Class
    (pp. 144-171)

    Immediately after the guns were silenced, the bitter experience of the Civil War led many southerners to search for an explanation for what had happened and to fix the blame for the disaster. In trying to understand what had gone wrong, they focused on the differences they perceived in northern and southern societies, and many concluded that southern agrarianism was no match for northern industrial power. These southerners believed that if the South were to resume its former place in the Union it would have to adopt new ways. Manufacturing, not agriculture, appeared to many the key to future prosperity...

  13. CHAPTER SEVEN Workers in an Industrial Community
    (pp. 172-199)

    The business class that emerged in Winston and Salem after the Civil War to direct the transformation of the local economy created the conditions that profoundly altered the lives of the majority of people living in the community. The process of change and adaptation that occurred in the postwar community reveals the character of industrialization as it occurred in Winston and Salem. Industrialization meant greater diversification of economic activities and occupations as well as local producers turning out goods for a wider nonlocal market. Producing in a wider market meant greater competitive pressures than those which existed in the antebellum...

  14. CHAPTER EIGHT The Industrial Community: Drawing the Lines of Class and Race
    (pp. 200-233)

    Winston-Salem, with its rapid growth driven by the tobacco industry and an “energetic business climate,” offered dramatic evidence of the transformation sweeping across North Carolina that reshaped people’s lives. Walter Hines Page, editor of theRaleigh State Chronicleand prolific proponent of economic development, proclaimed Winston in 1883 to be a “noisy inland metropolis, possessing every accompanying indication of city-like thrift and go-aheadativeness.”¹ Incorporation into the national market economy and the development of tobacco and textile manufacturing reshaped the contours of community. The experiences of the people of Winston-Salem as they pursued their own interests produced a complex urban community...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 234-238)

    Across the country in the nineteenth century, industrialization and urbanization introduced new methods of production and marketing and new ways of work. These changes brought to each community greater social diversity and increasing complexity that were expressed in differentiated residential patterns and deeper class and racial divisions. However, industrialization and urbanization were not homogenous phenomena. Though there were similarities of experience between Newark, New Jersey, Lynn and Dudley, Massachusetts, Poughkeepsie, New York, and Winston-Salem, each community experienced these changes in its own way and within the contexts of local conditions. The changes that transformed the villages of Winston and Salem...

  16. APPENDIX A Rules and Regulations
    (pp. 239-241)
  17. APPENDIX B Occupational Classifications for Population Sample from 1850 Census
    (pp. 242-243)
  18. APPENDIX C Occupational Classifications for Population Sample from 1880 Census
    (pp. 244-246)
  19. Notes
    (pp. 247-292)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 293-308)
  21. Index
    (pp. 309-320)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 321-321)