John W. Duffy

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Moody, J. Carroll, 1934-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of History


United States. National Recovery Administration; Monopolies--United States; Cotton manufacture--United States--History


The period from 1890 to 1910 is usually seen as the transition era in the move from competitive capitalism to monopoly capitalism. Most historians examining the development of monopoly limit their investigation to three forms of monopoly — the trust, holding company and the merger movement. The shortcoming of these studies is that these forms of monopoly were the most obvious and therefore received too much attention to the neglect of more subtle forms. Since there were no examples of pure monopoly, it is of crucial importance to investigate other factors besides size of operation and number of producers. It is essential, especially in industries where the number of firms remained constant or even increased, to examine the way producers interacted with respect to production, pricing, marketing and labor policies. The cotton textile industry, the first large scale capitalist enterprise in the United States, deserves such consideration when examining the issue of monopoly. For numerous reasons the cotton textile industry was slower to move from the early stage of competitive capitalism. Producers were many, profits were high and human labor cheap. Following the tremendous boom years of World War I, the most serious contradictions of competitive capitalism plagued the textile industry. There were too many producers, overproducing and consequently selling too cheaply to maintain profits. Just as importantly, the world market became highly competitive in the 1920's as new synthetic substitutes reduced the demand for cotton goods. By 1926 it became apparent to a few enlightened capitalist spokesmen like Herbert Hoover, then secretary of commerce, and Walker D. Hines, the founder of the Cotton Textile Institute, that competition was a destructive agent of the past which had to be replaced by cooperation and good will among producers. In the eyes of textile capitalists resolution of the internal crisis was a prerequisite to recapturing world markets. It was at this time that the Cotton Textile Institute initiated its programs to create the conditions of monopoly capitalism within the structure of competition. The Cotton Textile Institute became the trade association for the textile industry and attempted to formulate standard labor, production, pricing and marketing policies. Most importantly, the trade association sought and obtained the assistance of government in implementing its anti-competitive policies. Within four years the Cotton Textile Institute became the leading advocate for major modification of the anti-trust laws and the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act. The institute's programs called for a rejection of the individualism and laissez faire policies of the nineteenth century and an adoption of cooperation, social responsibility and economic rationalization. The role of the trade association, however, is but one third of the story of this important period in the cotton textile industry. The position and struggles of working people and the role of the federal government and the National Recovery Administration were closely tied to the policies and actions of textile capitalists. The role of United Textile Workers Union during this period was one of cooperation with textile owners in an effort to gain a position in the new industrial order the NRA seemed to offer. Nevertheless, the social and economic policies of textile capitalists before and during the NRA brought little improvement in the lives of textile workers. The role of the government, from Herbert Hoover to the code adoption hearing and the labor boards under the NRA, was one of near unanimous support for industrial interests. This thesis is an investigation of the cotton textile industry between 1926 and 1935. It examines how labor, capital and government acted and reacted to each other in a period when the cotton textile industry attempted to create a new, purley capitalistic form of monopoly production relations.


Includes bibliographical references.


129 pages




Northern Illinois University

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