Planters' Progress is the first book to examine the profoundly transformative industrialization of a southern state during the Civil War. More than any other Confederate state, Georgia mixed economic modernization with a large and concentrated slave population. In this pathbreaking study, Chad Morgan shows that Georgia's remarkable industrial metamorphosis had been a long sought goal of the state's planter elite.
Georgia's industrialization, underwritten by the Confederate government, changed southern life fundamentally. A constellation of state owned factories in Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, and Macon made up a sizeable munitions and supply complex that kept Confederate armies in the fields for four years against the preeminent industrial power of the North. Moreover, the government in Richmond provided numerous official goads and incentives to non government manufacturers, setting off a boom in private industry. Georgia cities grew and the state government expanded its function to include welfare programs for those displaced and impoverished by the war.
Georgia planters had always desired a level of modernization consistent with their ascendancy as the ruling slaveowner class. Morgan shows that far from being an unwanted consequence of the Civil War, the modernization of Confederate Georgia was an elaboration and acceleration of existing tendencies, and he confutes long and deeply held ideas about the nature of the Old South. Planters' Progress is a compelling reconsideration not only of Confederate industrialization but also of the Confederate experience as a whole.