textile mills in the south

Why did the textile workers union in the southern United States spread so rapidly? The textile industry was, at one time, one of the largest industries in the south. Starting in the late 1800s with small local looms and spreading to become corporations controlling the south and whose influence stretched internationally. One of the souths first textile corporations originated in Gaston County, North Carolina, and its huge success led to the opening of mills across the Carolinas and Virginia. As these industries grew they began to control more and more of their employees lives. These huge corporations were permitted to take advantage of their workers because of the individuals inability to fight back. The employees of these mills lived in conditions resembling that of slaves before the civil war. They were worked grueling hours in inhospitable prisons called textile plants, yet were paid on average less than any other industrial worker in America. In the early twentieth century a sentiment of contempt began to grow between the laboring class and the all-powerful corporation. The masses began to push for union representation. The industrys numbers represents the importance of this industry. Textiles were the foundation of southern economy. In 1900 there were one hundred seventy-seven mills in North Carolina, but by the early nineteen twenties, that number had grown to over five hundred. Fifty were in Gaston County alone, and by 1929 there were more than one hundred mills in Gaston County which could process cotton, with nearly seventeen thousand workers earning their living exclusively from the mills (Williams 29). Textiles were a booming industry in the south. South Carolina employed only 2,053 people in the industry at the turn of the century, but by 1920, nearly 50,000 people worked in mills, one sixth of South Carolinas population. Virginias textile industry grew just as quickly with the incor…

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