Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

William J. Cooper, Jr


This dissertation explores the life of Daniel Pratt, one of the South's most important industrialists. Daniel Pratt was born in Temple, New Hampshire on July 20, 1799. In 1821, he migrated to Jones County, Georgia, where he worked as a carpenter-architect for ten years. He married Esther Ticknor of Connecticut in 1827 Samuel Griswold hired Pratt in 1831 to superintend his cotton gin factory in Jones County. Two years later, Pratt migrated to Autauga County in central Alabama, where he started his own gin shop. In 1839, Pratt founded Prattville, located fourteen miles from Alabama's capital, Montgomery. The next year, he formed Daniel Pratt and Company, which manufactured several hundred gins annually. Pratt's gins won favorable attention from prominent southern periodicals like De Bow's Review. By 1860, Pratt's company was the largest cotton gin manufacturer in the world. Pratt started a cotton mill in 1846. Although several planters invested in Prattville Manufacturing Company (PMC), Pratt dominated the business. PMC became one of the South's most successful and celebrated textile factories. It relied primarily on the labor of poor white families, but it did employ some slaves. To mold his white employees into an effective work force, Pratt inaugurated a vigorous "uplift" program, which emphasized temperance, education, and church and Sunday school attendance. This program was generally successful. Prattville, the site of Daniel Pratt's factories, became a significant town with numerous stores and shops, including a sash, door and blind shop and a carriage and wagon shop, as well as churches, schools, and voluntary associations. Included among the latter were a Bible society, a temperance society, a singing society, a fire engine company, a band, and a lyceum. In addition to having a successful business career, Pratt was involved in Alabama politics from 1847 to his death in 1873. In 1860, he was elected to Alabama's House of Representatives, and ten years later, he became a strong--though ultimately unsuccessful--contender for Alabama's governorship. Pratt vigorously advocated southern industrialization and economic diversification. His pronouncements fell on a mostly receptive audience. When he died, newspapers eulogized him as one of Alabama's greatest men.