Cotton, Fire, and Dreams: The Robert Findlay Iron Works and Heavy Industry in Macon, Georgia, 1839-1912
European Annaliste historians interpreted social history by focusing on the life of one individual as told through a revealing biographical document. An 1859 obituary of antebellum industrialist Robert Findlay provides the beginning point for a rare in-depth analysis of Findlay's life. To tell Findlay's story is also to recount Macon's rise from a frontier commercial and transportation center to an important manufacturing city of the Old South. Macon's history, in turn, reveals important social aspects of the development of heavy industry in Georgia and the deep South. This new study provides a social history of Macon in the Annaliste format, focusing on the career of industrialist Robert Findlay. Scottish-born and Northern-trained, Findlay (1808-1859) became one of the few genuinely successful industrialists of the Old South. Taking advantage of the market for agricultural technology, he helped develop Macon, Georgia, into one of the Old South's few machinery manufacturing cities and the center of the region's largest railroad and river transportation network. Davis gracefully blends biography with the social history of Macon and the first major manufacturing in Georgia. Manufacturing in the antebellum South came into being to meet the needs of the Cotton Kingdom. In the lifespan of the Findlay Iron Works, one learns of its owner's and heavy industry's struggles against the prejudices of some Southerners and the geographic shortcomings of the Old South.
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