Monday, October 24, 2016

Daniel Pratt - Part 4

SCV Camp 1524 Dragoons Compatriot Tyrone Crowley addressed the October 2016 camp meeting as Daniel Pratt presenting an autobiographical history of the life of this important 19th century industrialist. 

When secession was voted on and approved by the people of the State of Alabama, I joined the effort wholeheartedly, helping to recruit and outfit the first Confederate unit to leave Autauga County, the Prattville Dragoons.  I spoke at a meeting at Alida Hall, offering all support possible to men who volunteered to fight for the Confederacy.  I helped to outfit the company of men your camp is named for, the Prattville Dragoons, including horses, equipment, and the fine black uniforms that sometimes caused Dragoons to be mistaken for officers.  My wife Esther was president of the Ladies’ Aid Society in Prattville, which made clothing for soldiers.[1]
With respect to my business, the departure of our men to fight the war was a setback.  I lost twelve employees when the Dragoons mustered and rode away to war, and fifteen more when my nephew Merrill formed Company K of the 1st Alabama Regiment and went away to defend our country.  A year later, I managed to get some of these men transferred back home by sending a request to Governor John Gill Shorter.  Governor Shorter requested that General Braxton Bragg transfer some of my workers back to Prattville, stating that the Prattville Manufacturing Company (our cotton mill) was "worth a regiment of men to the Confederacy" due to its production of fabric for uniforms at a low price.  Prattville also produced knapsacks, skillets, wooden buttons, and horse brushes for the Confederacy.[2]
During and after the War, I actively sought in various ways to relieve the suffering of the poor in Autauga County, providing jobs to workers, or charity.  Col J H Livingston, a eulogist, said the following:  "Born and reared in poverty, (Daniel Pratt) well knew how to appreciate the wants of the needy.  Strangers he clothed and fed, and to the sick he administered comfort.  Not restricted by limits of sectarian propriety, he considered the poor of every creed, and bestowed his charities with a lavish hand".[3]  While serving as a state representative in 1862, I sponsored a bill to authorize an Autauga county tax to support families of soldiers away at war; it was enacted into law and this relieved some of the suffering of our families here.[4]
After the War, I gave a lot and two-story building to the black people of Prattville, to use as a church and school. This became known as Ward's Chapel.  I also wrote letters to the Montgomery Daily Mail newspaper, offering the colored people my advice on how to proceed after the War. [5]
The War Between The States ended badly for the South, and for me, though with my Northern connections I was able to obtain a pardon rather soon and get back to recovering my losses.  At the end of the War, Shadrach Mims and I calculated that I had lost upwards of half a million dollars, but at the end of my life I had recovered enough wealth to leave a respectable inheritance to my nephew Merrill and my daughter Ellen.  Ellen's husband, Henry Fairchild DeBardeleben, took her inheritance and became a principal figure in the coal and iron industry in Birmingham.  One of his undertakings was one I had begun during the War, the Red Mountain Company, which built the Oxmoor furnaces.  Thankfully, I was able to see this happen before my life ended on 5 May 1873.
A month after my death (at 10 a.m. on Tuesday 12 June 1873), the citizens of Prattville, in an official town meeting chaired by Reverend E S Smith, assembled at the Methodist Church (other side of creek, near where Masonic Hall is now), "to pay public tribute to the memory of our belated friend and fellow-citizen, the Honorable Daniel Pratt, deceased."[6]  Five of Prattville's leading men came to the podium and honored me with their words.
Shadrach Mims, Autauga County's first historian and my sometimes business partner wrote this about me, which I think represents my life fairly well:  "(Daniel Pratt) seemed to think that really money had no other value than to subserve a valuable purpose.  He regarded himself only as a steward."[7]
I am also proud of this inscription on my tombstone: 

In the front room of your Prattaugan Museum hangs a copy of the poem I read a few minutes ago, but with these verses added:

But the angel of death passed by on his mission,
And knock'd on the door with his death-dealing rod;
Now throbs not his heart, now ceases his vision,
And Daniel Pratt lives in the mansions of God.

Free as the sunshine that falls on the marble,
That stands by the tomb where his ashes repose,
Were the gifts of his hands, such free benefactions
As heaven-blessed charity only bestows.

Disturb not his slumbers, let Daniel Pratt sleep
'Neath the bows of the willows that over him weep.
His arm is unnerved, but his deeds remain bright
As stars in the dark-vaulted heaven at night.

Finally, ladies and gentlemen, I leave you with this admonishment:  Remember your fathers, who gave you this land and this nation "to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity".

[1] Evans, op. cit., p. 232.
[2] Evans, op. cit., pp. 223-224.
[3] Tarrant, op. cit., p. 114.
[4] Evans, op. cit., pp. 218-19.
[5] Evans, op. cit., p. 117, p. 277.
[6] Tarrant, op. cit., p. 100.
[7] Tarrant, op. cit., p. 57.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Daniel Pratt - Part 3

SCV Camp 1524 Dragoons Compatriot Tyrone Crowley addressed the October 2016 camp meeting as Daniel Pratt presenting an autobiographical history of the life of this important 19th century industrialist. 

Largest manufactory of cotton gins in the world produced one-fourth of all gins in the world, as well as largest cotton mill in Alabama[1] (out of 12 in the state).  Beautiful, orderly village with an orderly, peaceful life--churches, schools, factories, even a lyceum for public gatherings.[2]  Our children attended the fine Male and Female Academy, built in 1859-1860, where the Prattville Dragoons, first unit to leave this county, gathered in April 1861 to go to the defense of the Confederate States (went to Montgomery, then to Pensacola).  My niece, Abigail Holt, presented them with a flag made by the local ladies, to carry into battle, and Lt A Y Smith, whom I had taught Sabbath School to when he was a boy, received the flag.  (Other industries established in Prattville before 1850, which I owned in whole or in part were the sash, door and blind factory, a horse mills factory, machine and blacksmiths shop, a wagon manufactory, a tin manufactory, and a flouring mill--), and was "dry" (all deeds prohibited the sale of spirits). If not for the war that came, I believe Prattville would have been a center of industry in Alabama. But then came the War of 1861-65...
MY VIEWS ON CERTAIN TOPICS (see Conquest of Labor, pp. 200-ff.)
Like Jefferson Davis, I was not in favor of secession, though I had no doubt it was permissible under the Constitution.  A look at leaders elected to the Confederate government shows that most were moderates, like Jefferson Davis and myself; we did not believe immediate secession was wise and in fact could lead to disaster for the South.  I thought the South should spend a decade building up its industry before asserting its constitutional right to secede.  Remember, the South would be fighting the only kind of war sanctioned by Christianity:  a war of self-defense.  But it required preparation…
My plan for the South before the War, as I described it in a letter to the American Cotton Planter in 1859, was that "the South ought to maintain her rights at all hazards", but that "I would pursue a somewhat different course from that of our politicians".  I believed that the South should spend ten years building up her manufacturing and other commercial enterprises, to stop making "flaming fiery speeches and threats" and instead "to go quietly and peaceably to work, and make ourselves less dependent on those who abuse and would gladly ruin us".[3]
In September 1863, while a state legislator trying to encourage my fellow citizens following the losses at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, I wrote a letter in the Autauga Citizen, asking Alabamians, "Are you willing to live under a government you can have no control over, and be taxed to the last dollar to pay for the loss of all that was near and dear to you?"[4]  This is what surrender meant, and we all knew it.
On the question of slavery:  There were three reasons for slavery, in my view--two practical and one religious.  1)  The South's economy would have collapsed without slavery to gather and ship cotton, a joint enterprise between the North which provided the slaves and the South which used them.  2) Slavery improved the lives of black people, from a primitive one to a more civilized one. I believe this is why the American Colonization Society, which Abraham Lincoln supported, did not achieve its goal of repatriating the Africans; the slaves saw the benefits they had received and did not wish to return to their native lands.[5]  3) Slavery was not prohibited by God's law.  I saw slavery as God's way of Christianizing Africans and bettering their lot in life; the Bible tells the servant to be faithful to his master, and nowhere does it condemn slavery neither in the Old Testament nor the New.[6]  As the Reverend James Henry Thornwell tells us, a system of absolute equality has never existed and cannot exist in this world, only in heaven.  To believe it can is communism, as Reverend Thornwell pointed out.  Remember too that originally slavery was legal in all states; it was only those states that found it unprofitable that eventually outlawed it.
Regarding Reconstruction, I was entirely opposed to it, to the end of my days.  Before all else, I am a practical man.  To take ex-slaves, many of them unable to read and write, and give them the vote, while at the same time disenfranchising all men who had served in the Confederacy in any capacity, which would mean almost all white men in the defeated states, was simply not a practical or just thing to do, and it was a better day when Reconstruction ended in Alabama about a year after I departed this earth.
I do not care for politics, but once I realized that I was recognized as a leader in industrial and political matters and was urged by men I respected to do so, I ran for office at the local and state level.  I was almost elected State Senator in 1855, but lost by a small margin, due to opposition from the "piney woods" yeomen in north Autauga County (Chestnut Creek area).  I was elected by a large majority to serve as representative for Autauga County in the Alabama Legislature 1861-1863.  I was also honored to be proposed as candidate for governor in 1870 but lost to a younger candidate (Lindsay).  Was elected Intendant of Prattville in 1866 and held that office until my death, when it was assumed by my nephew, Merrill.

[1] Ibid., p. 65.
[2] MacMillan, M.C.  op.cit. p. 6.
[3] Also see pp. 180-181 of Conquest of Labor plus letter on p. 215.
[4] Evans, op. cit., p. 215.
[5] Evans, op. cit., p. 183.  See also p. 204, letter to American Cotton Planter.
[6] See ThornwellJH and the Biblical Defense of Slavery.pdf, pp. 7, 16.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Daniel Pratt - Part 2

SCV Camp 1524 Dragoons Compatriot Tyrone Crowley addressed the October 2016 camp meeting as Daniel Pratt presenting an autobiographical history of the life of this important 19th century industrialist. 

Found my own property to continue my enterprises.  The spot that is now Prattville had good water power and yellow pine, but low, swampy, and viney.  Friends thought "poor purchase" when in 1835 I promised to pay Joseph May $21,000 in cash and cotton gins for 2,000 acres of land[1] that some called a "dismal swamp".
 (Slave complaint. Massa Pratt was not satisfied with the way God made the earth; he was always "diggin' down the hills and fillin' up the hollers".)
From the beginning, our undertaking with the "poor purchase" was a continual success, so that by 1842 I had completed my home on Autauga Creek and in 1845 added an art gallery.  I also helped William Montgomery build his house about the same time.  Mr. Montgomery was my friend and associate, and gave me the right-of-way through his property when I built the public plank road down to Washington Landing in the 1840s.  One of your members, Sam Reid, is a descendant of Mr. Montgomery, and I understand that you hold a Christmas Social in this home each December.  (Dragoons Communications Officer Larry Spears's wife Sue's great-grandfather, Wilcox County plantation owner James Asbury Tait, had a high opinion of my gins, said they were the best on the market[2].) 
In the 1840s then, my vision of a fine New-England-style village was taking shape.  I should say a word here about my concern for religion to be an essential part of life in Prattville.  I built the first Methodist church here, and subsidized the building of the Baptist and Presbyterian churches.  Mac A Smith and his brother Alfred (A.Y., buried out at Indian Hill) were in my Union Sabbath School group when they were boys; A.Y. was later an officer in the Prattville Dragoons. 
By late 1840s I was encouraged by articles in national publications such as DeBow's Review, articles in local newspapers, and an honorary Master's Degree in Mechanical and Useful Arts.  In January 1847, I was almost brought to tears by the following praise from Dr. Basil Manly of the University of Alabama:
"Without having devoted your life to literary pursuits, you have attained, in an eminent degree, that which is the end of all letters and all study---the art of making men around you wiser, better and happier. ... Above all, you have shown that you discern what is the great source of all virtue and happiness, of all knowledge and success, by your efficient maintenance of the Institutions of the religion of our Lord Jesus Christ, among your people."
Dr. Manly understood me very well, for that is precisely what I had in mind in all my years of working to improve the village of Prattville:  to make men wiser, better, and happier, to give dignity to labor, and to promote a Christian life among my fellow citizens. I'm not an artist but love art, hence my friendship with and patronage of George Cook (two-floor art gallery in New Orleans, later beautiful paintings in my own gallery); not a poet, but love poetry, hence my appreciation of the poetry of Francis Orray Ticknor, my wife's cousin, a physician but also a poet who became famous for his poem about a young Confederate, "Little Giffen".  In 1854, he dedicated the following poem to me, another great encouragement in my efforts to help my fellow man.  Preface to poem:  First paragraph alludes to Revolutions of 1848, ongoing in Europe.  There were terrible times there, while on this continent our ancestors were building a fine new world of peace and prosperity--therein lies the meaning of "the conquest of labor".

by Francis Orray Ticknor, Esther's cousin

Inscribed to Daniel Pratt, Esq., of Prattville (Alabama)

There's a sound on the air of an army in motion,
The thunder of war and the battles' loud boom;
Each breeze that is borne o'er the wide-rolling ocean
Is sad with its terror and dark with its gloom.

But the sun that goes down on the blood-dripping sabre
Shall rise on a scene that is lovelier far,
Where the olive grows green and the Laurels of Labor
Are won in the wild 'neath our own western star.

From the stormy Atlantic their hosts are advancing;
On the far Rocky Mountains their legions are seen;
Down the wilderness valleys their watch-lights are glancing,
And the broad blue Pacific exults in their sheen.

Ever around them rich blessings are springing,
Ever before them the darkness retires;
Peace lends her song to their reveille's ringing,
And Plenty reclines by their bivouac fires.

Where round the dark anvil the red forge is gleaming,
Where the swift shuttle flies, where the plow cleaves the sod;
Round the hearth-stones of Toil rise the ramparts of Freemen,
The Altars of Home and the Temples of God.

And still may they rise, till their victories speeding,
Shall circle the earth with their mission sublime,
Till the world that was fair in the morning of Eden
Shall blossom again in the sunset of Time.

And honor to him who shall honor his station,
In the land where his labor its earnest may find;
Where the works of his hands are the pride of a nation,
And the worth of his heart is the hope of mankind.

Torch Hill, Ga.,
December 14, 1854
This poem and the diploma from the University of Alabama, together with praise I received in DeBow's Review and other publications, gave me a new confidence in myself as a public figure (I had always been a bit uncomfortable in public situations, given my limited education), so I began to write letters and on occasion make speeches in support of my ideas and positions.  In 1855, fabric from Prattville Manufacturing Company won the prize for "best osnaburg" at the Alabama State Fair in Montgomery.[3]

[1] Evans, Curt.  The Conquest of Labor, p. 19.
[2] Evans, op. cit., p. 19.
[3] MacMillan, M.C.  Essay "Daniel Pratt:  Ante-bellum Southern Industrialist", p. 8.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Daniel Pratt - Part 1

SCV Camp 1524 Dragoons Compatriot Tyrone Crowley addressed the October 2016 camp meeting as Daniel Pratt presenting an autobiographical history of the life of this important 19th century industrialist.

Greetings:  May God bless this house, and may God bless this assembly.  Good evening.  I assume you all know who I am, since your lovely village bears my name--I'm Daniel Pratt.  As Jefferson Davis said to the people of Mississippi towards the end of his life, "The weight of many years admonishes me that my day of actual service has passed".  Actually, I departed this earth 143 years ago last May, but thanks to the efforts of a member of your organization who admires my life and deeds, I am able to be revived and make this presentation of my life and times.  Given my advanced age, this will require some use of notes and reading, if you will forgive me.  
Here's a sketch of my life:
·    NH - 2 decades - childhood, apprenticeship
·    Savannah - 2 years - developed apprentice skills
·    Milledgeville - 1 decade - success as builder
·    Clinton - 2 years - beginning of career with cotton gins
·    Elmore - 1 year - initial effort at manufacturing gins
·    McNeill's Mill - 5 years - success on my own
·   Prattville - 2 decades - 1840's, building my model village; 1850s, pinnacle of success, became public figure
·    WBTS, Reconstruction - 1 decade plus 2 years - War Between States, political life, decline in health
NEW HAMPSHIRE (1799-1819)
I was born 20 July 1799 in Temple, New Hampshire.  I am descended from Pratts who migrated from England to Massachusetts in 1643.  They were Congregationalists, who did not want to be part of the Church of England. Their belief that all churches were autonomous made it easy for me to understand the principles of secession and local government, as mentioned on the Confederate monument at the Autauga County courthouse. 
Childhood memories:  Fourth of six children, named for grandfather Daniel Pratt.[1] Worked hard, could only go to school a short term in winter, when there was no farmwork.  Sundays were dedicated solely to "Sabbath school" and the worship of God--no frivolity.
Father, believing that I was a "mechanical genius" ended my scant education in 1815 and apprenticed me to Aaron Putnam, a house carpenter  in nearby Wilton Township.  After four years learning carpentry with Mr. Putnam, I left New Hampshire and came south to Savannah, Georgia.
SAVANNAH (1819-1821)
Brought money given me by Grandfather Flint when I left Temple and tools that grandfather Daniel had bequeathed to me.  Savannah was a beautiful city, and during the next two years I sharpened the skills I had learned as an apprentice in New Hampshire.
Kept "Bachelors' Hall"  on Ocmulgee River, building houses and flatboats with four negro men (three slaves and one hired carpenter).
Was scolded by father for slaves, but wrote  "Dear Father:  To live in any country it is necessary to conform to the customs of that country in part (emphasis by DTC).  I am only following the customs of the country in which I live.  I have brought no man into bondage and I am in hopes I have rendered no man's situation more disagreeable than it was before; on the contrary I am in hopes I have bettered it". 
I only had slaves because I got them in payment for building of houses and boats, since cash was scarce.
My misery as a bachelor didn't last long.  I married my bosom companion for life, Esther Ticknor on 6 Sep 1827, who had come from Connecticut to visit relatives.
CLINTON (1831-1833)
Went here to work with Samuel Griswold, from Connecticut, who became a friend and mentor to me.  Within a year, I became a partner, and we made plans to go west into Alabama, then in its "flush times"--there was money to be made, due to the need for cotton gins which at that  time came from Georgia or New England.
Religion:  Became Methodist while at Clinton.  Esther had been Presbyterian but became Methodist when I did, at the church in Clinton, Georgia.  From that day forward, Christianity and the Methodist church remained a principal part of our lives.
Griswold changed his mind about coming to Alabama after hearing of Indian trouble there (what is known as the Second Creek War), but supplied capital and advice.
First came to Elmore's Mill, where I used the materials for 50 gins I had brought with me, which I put together and sold quickly.
After a few months at Elmore, I went downriver to the junction of the Alabama River and Autauga Creek, to a town called Washington and rented the property at McNeill's Mill.
MCNEILL'S MILL (1833-1838)
First lived in log cabin with leaning chimney, then built two-story frame building with gin making below, Esther and I and operatives on second floor.  McNeill wanted to raise the rent after five years, but I had already entered a contract to purchase my own property.

[1] Tarrant, The Honorable Daniel Pratt, pp. 40 ff.)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Prattville Dragoons October 2016 Camp Meeting

Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1524 had an exceptional camp meeting on Thursday October 13th with 33 attendees present including six of the member's wives.  The meeting was held at the Shoney's on Cobbs Ford Rd in Prattville.  Chaplain Snowden convened the meeting with an Invocation followed by the pledge to the U.S. flag and salutes to the Alabama state and Confederate flags and Commander Waldo's reading of the SCV Charge. Upcoming events were highlighted which included the Dragoon's Fall Muster just a couple days after, the Battle of Tallassee Reenactment and Division DEC meeting in November and the Prattville Christmas parade and the camp's Christmas Social in December.  Announcements were led by a reminder for the annual membership renewals which need to be completed by the end of October to avoid being delinquent.  Recent donations authorized by the camp EC were announced including a donation to the Capital City Flaggers for the planned I-85 Confederate flag, the Montgomery History video editing and, New Orleans flood relief.  Updates on the camp's seasonal projects were discussed including the canned food drive and the Salvation Army kettle ringing.  A reminder was made to encourage all camp members to contact their state representatives and senators to encourage them to support the Monument Protection Bill in the new legislative session.  Quartermaster Bill Myrick gave a brief on the success of his presentation to the local American Legion for their support of the Monument Protection Bill.  The final announcement was in regards to the national SCV Confederate history museum at Elm Springs where each camp has been challenged to contribute to the construction and completion of this world class museum where the true history of the south will be presented to future generations as the Charge implores us.  Compatriot Tyrone Crowley then presented the history of Daniel Pratt, founder of Prattville, industrialist who founded the cotton gin factory there which was at one time the largest in the world, and a leader in the community and state who supported the Confederate cause outfitting the Dragoons in 1861 when they were organized and left to defend their homes, state and country in the War for Southern Independence.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Prattville Dragoons October Camp Meeting

Compatriot Tyrone Crowley will perform his reenactment of Daniel Pratt, industrialist, founder of Prattville AL and, supporter of the Confederate Cause as the highlight speaker for the Dragoon's October 2016 Camp 1524 meeting.  Tyrone has performed in the Prattville, Montgomery and Selma communities as Jefferson Davis including the SCV Sesquicentennial reenactment on the state capital steps of Davis' swearing in as President of the newly formed Confederate States of America. Daniel Pratt looked not unlike Jefferson Davis with his goatee beard which Tyrone maintains for authenticity.   Tyrone has long served the SCV and Camp 1524 as previous Communications Officer and with his linguistics background, he is a an accomplished polished orator. This is sure to be a fascinating enjoyable presentation. The  meeting will be held at the Shoney's on Cobbs Ford Road in Prattville at 7am on Thursday October 13th.  Many start to gather at 6pm to break bread together, enjoying the ample Shoney's buffet or delicious selections off the menu.  Everyone is encouraged to bring some canned goods or non-perishables which the camp is gathering to make a donation in conjunction with the Thanksgiving holidays to a local food bank.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Town of Prattville Highlights and Recommendations

I enjoy researching local points of interest and local eateries and recommended hoteliers when travelling and use the internet tools for trip and vacation planning.  To that end and in an effort to share some recommendations for some must-see attractions and activities and some of the best places to eat and stay in our Prattville area, we will start a series of monthly blog posts offering our personal best suggestions.  Prattville is a historic small town in central Alabama, a bedroom community to Montgomery, the state capital.  Prattville is known as the Fountain City for the many artesian wells in the area many of which have spigots installed allowing local residents to draw spring water for their consumption.  Prattville is also known as the Preferred Community for its small town charm and pleasant neighborhoods and for its good schools and city services.  Prattville was founded in 1839 by Daniel Pratt after he purchased land along Autauga Creek which would provide water power for his cotton gin factory.  Pratt laid out the charming town similarly to those in New Hampshire from whence he came.  Prattville grew rapidly and in 1868 it was made the Autauga County seat and it remains with a population of around 34000. Autauga County was founded in 1818 and as such is actually older than the state of Alabama; the county will soon celebrate its bicentennial.  There are many outstanding recreational facilities and opportunities in the community and these will be highlighted in future blog posts.  There are also many historic and interesting attractions for visitors and the downtown Daniel Pratt Historic District is on the National Register. Alabamians love their Southern cuisine and Prattville affords plenty of delicious options.  Prattville also has some large employers, hosts events and travelers such that many hotels and bed and breakfast provide ample comfortable accommodations.  Each month one blog will present a review and information about an attraction, eatery or lodging in and around Prattville to encourage y'all to come and visit and stay a while.