Sunday, December 7, 2008

a sense of duty

Lynchburg Coke and Staunton Coke c. 1900; Virginia Coke, November 16, 1915; Cordele, Georgia Coke, c. 1900, Blue Charlottesville Coke, patent November 16, 1915; Staunton Coke c. 1900; background, Burnett Cocaine bottle c. 1900-- bottles courtesy the Carr Collection

In their concern for adequate living quarters, encouragement of educational and religious activities, and insistence upon high moral standards, the woolen mill owners reflected a prevailing attitude of Southern businessmen in the New South. A sense of duty and responsibility in providing the proper environment for the molding of character was the underlying concept. It was well expressed by the president of the Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, Georgia in 1911:

The supreme obligation of Southern patriotism in business endeavor is the duty of improving our best asset--the Southern people. The richest resource we have is our youth. In their veins runs the blood of the best American stock. They should have a fair chance to make the most and the best of themselves, and the first care of our successful men of business should be to see that they have that chance.

Unlike the welfare capitalism of the 1920 's, that exercised by the Charlottesville Woolen Mills was primarily interested in the moral fibre of the village community. Whether the workers were contented with it is impossible to say. The absence of labor disturbances seems to indicate that they were. --Harry Poindexter



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