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“T” is for Textile industry

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“T” is for Textile industry. From the late nineteenth century through most of the twentieth century, the textile industry dominated South Carolina manufacturing. It employed the majority of all manufacturing workers and its company towns set the terms of life for thousands of White Carolinians. Factory production of textiles commenced in fits and starts after the American Revolution, but it was not until the 1880s that production soared. By 1900, South Carolina was the second-largest textile producing state after Massachusetts. From the 1970s onward, developing countries increasingly undercut South Carolina manufacturers. Although some of the larger firms developed niche markets, many smaller ones began to go under. Among the numerous smaller mill towns of the Upstate, the closings frequently devastated communities. And, by the first decade of the twenty-first century, the textile era of South Carolina was over.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.