The Art of Making Men Around You Wiser, Better, and Happier: Daniel Pratt and the Working Mill Village
The two earliest existing buildings of Daniel Pratt’s cotton gin factory, constructed in 1848 and 1852, still loom over Autauga Creek in Prattville. Pratt’s office is believed to have been at the end of the second floor of the 1852 building, angled, it is speculated, for Pratt to observe his creation. (Photo by Robin McDonald)
In 1835 Daniel Pratt (1799–1873), a northerner from New Hampshire, told a coworker that he would soon establish a factory and manufacturing village in the South “for the purpose of dignifying labor, and to give the laboring class an opportunity of not only making an independent living, but to train up workmen who could give dignity to labor.” With a strict adherence to religion and education, Pratt hoped to imbue his southern community with what he believed to be positive New England virtues of sobriety, thrift, and hard work. Fundamental qualities such as these might then earn each individual “a neat, substantial dwelling, the front yard adorned with shrubbery and flowers, a good vegetable garden, a pleasant wife and cheerful children,” according to Pratt. Prattville, Alabama, which Pratt founded fourteen miles northwest of Montgomery in 1839, offered just such opportunities.
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