Francis Curran III
Curran's dissertation explores the relationship between leading southern industrialists and antebellum reform efforts. In the three decades before the Civil War, capitalists like William Gregg of South Carolina, Daniel Pratt of Alabama, and Barrington King of Georgia founded and managed some of the largest and most successful manufacturing establishments in the South. Alongside their industrial operations, they built company villages, over which they exercised a powerful and pervasive paternalism. Motivated by both the need for a well-disciplined workforce and a genuine desire to uplift morally and intellectually their poor white laborers, these industrialists erected free schools for the education of their operatives’ children, donated land for the construction of Protestant churches, and instituted strict temperance measures. While workers and townspeople occasionally resisted their authority during the antebellum years, the social disintegration and chaos wrought by the Civil War sounded the death knell for these industrialists’ paternalistic dreams of creating well-ordered, virtuous communities.