However, the newspaper provided a view of the general political atmosphere of Orange County during the time period as well. One issue contained an article expressing the increasingly secessionist views in North Carolina, and specifically Orange County, as the war drew closer. Religion played a central part in the print media as well, with religious stories printed along with accounts of the work being done by local religious organizations. The Hillsborough Recorder provides a description of the UNC-CH Young Men’s Christian Association and the Tract Society, which donated books to institutions such as asylums, poor houses and prisons.
Once the war began, massive changes began to develop in the demographics and social lives of Orange County residents, and evidence of the changing society can be seen in the print culture as content began to evolve. The University felt an exceptionally strong impact as the young men left school to participate in the war effort. The North Carolina University Magazine was forced to halt production since virtually its entire staff was depleted because of the war. Some of the students circulated a petition in April, 1861, urging the secretary of the board of trustees to close the University itself for a semester so that their studies would not be affected by the chaotic atmosphere that accompanied the Civil War. The authors of the petition claimed that eight to ten young men abandoned their studies to go to war each day. However, the students’ suggestion was not implemented and the University remained in session throughout the duration of the war despite the massive decline in students. David L. Swain, President of the University from 1836 to 1868 wrote a letter in July, 1861, saying that despite the diminishing number of students, the University would remain in session and continue to strive for success. In 1863, the Hillsborough Recorder ran an article on the commencement ceremony of the University. Eight students were graduating, and despite hard times, the author of the article urged people in the community to attend commencement “for one is likely to see there many good people, to hear many good things and eat many good dinners (especially in scarce times).”
The family's main corporate base was in the DuPont Corporation, which had grown very large during World War I through munitions orders from the government. It was the tenth-largest American corporation in 1933, when it earned $26 million despite the depression; by 1936, its profits were over $90 million (Zilg 1974, p. 345). Although no big fan of employee representation plans, it was a member of the Special Conference Committee. In addition, the family owned about 25% of the stock in General Motors, the third-largest corporation in 1933, and about 20% of the stock in United States Rubber, both of which were also in the Special Conference Committee. It also owned the National Bank of Detroit and the Wilmington Trust Company and had at least partial ownership in Continental American Life Insurance, North American Aviation, and Remington Arms Company.
As these maneuverings signal, the strong opposition from steel, autos, and the NAM soon led to differences of opinion within the board itself, which had been enlarged from seven to eleven members so there would always be three business people able to come to Washington at relatively short notice to deal with new cases that needed immediate attention. One of those new members was BAC member Pierre S. du Pont, chairman of DuPont Corporation, and a member of the then closely knit du Pont family of Wilmington, Delaware, the third-richest family of the era (Lundberg 1937, pp. 26-27). Since Pierre du Pont was the family's leader at the time and a key figure in a split in the National Labor Board that was about to emerge, a few details on him and his family are in order.
In October, for example, several companies declined to appear at its hearings, and on November 1 the NAM launched a vigorous public attack on the legitimacy of the board itself. NAM claimed that the procedures of the board were unfair and objected in particular to Swope's idea of representation elections, 75% of which were won by trade unions from August through December of 1933. NAM even objected to the business members of the board, claiming "the representatives of the manufacturers are usually chosen from among those who are known from their expression of views to have a strong leaning towards labor" (Gross 1974, p. 44). In two major cases in December 1933, Weirton Steel and Budd Manufacturing openly defied the National Labor Board and brought the agency to its knees (Bernstein 1969, p. 177).
From the tenor of the August 3 meeting of corporate and labor leaders, and a look at the composition of the new labor board, it appeared that corporate moderates within the corporate community were prepared to adopt a more cooperative stance toward organized labor. It seemed that they might be willing to accept the collective-bargaining solution that had been urged by the National Civic Federation and the Commission on Industrial Relations in the Progressive Era, then implemented for the duration of World War I, then reluctantly accepted by railroad executives in 1926, then supported by the Norris-LaGuardia Act, and then legislated by Congress as part of the NRA deal. The presence of Swope and Teagle seemed to signal that two of most respected and powerful corporate leaders in the country were now in favor of a more cooperative approach to labor strife. So what happened?
Although the upheavals in the South and West proved to be sporadic and manageable for the big agricultural interests, the unexpected labor upheaval in Northern industrial cities six weeks after passage of the NRA was so great that major business figures felt it necessary to contemplate a compromise with organized labor. The BAC members on the Industrial Advisory Board of the NRA therefore hosted a private meeting with the Labor Advisory Board of the NRA on August 3 1933, which included Lewis of the mine workers, Hillman of the garment workers, and Green of the AFL as its key members. BAC minutes reveal that Teagle opened the meeting by suggesting a "truce" (this war-derived metaphor suggests that Teagle believed that there was a class struggle going on) until the NRA could establish the numerous codes that would set price, hours, and wages in a wide variety of industries. According to notes from the meeting, he emphasized that he had no complaint with labor's efforts. "It was only natural," he said, "for labor to try to use this opportunity to organize and for employers to resist" (McQuaid 1979, p. 688). But some degree of harmony was needed, he continued, so that the recovery process could begin. Teagle therefore proposed that the two boards create an agency to arbitrate the problems that were being caused by differing interpretations of section 7(a).
Liberals within the Roosevelt coalition, both southerners and northerners, responded to the exclusion and exploitation of tenants and sharecroppers by demanding relief and reform for all southerners, black or white, that had lost their livelihood. In effect, they assumed the leadership of the farm workers' battle with plantation owners through their access to the media, their presence in some federal agencies, and a few pipelines to the White House. In reaction, there was an attempt by the White House to create agencies and programs aimed at relieving some of the devastating poverty in the South without alienating the wealthy whites that controlled the regional Democratic Party. Put another way, the Democratic Party and plantation owners faced the classic dilemma about relief payments analyzed by Piven and Cloward (1971/1993): such spending is necessary to forestall disruption, but it must be accompanied by rituals of degradation and eliminated as soon as possible so that work norms and the willingness to work for low wages are not undermined.
Labor's organizing efforts met with success in some industries, especially those in which the companies were small or the workers were organized into one industry wide union that included many different types of craft workers as well as unskilled workers. This success was greatest for the United Mine Workers, who were able to thwart attempts by mine operators to bring in replacement labor. Similarly, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers grew rapidly by organizing the men who worked for the many small clothing companies in New York and other Eastern cities; the International Ladies Garment Workers did the same for women. (For an excellent analysis of the relatively unique situation in the coal and clothing industries, see Swenson (2002, pp. 146-160).)
Gerard Swope, the president of General Electric, and a friend of the New Deal, was named chairman of the BAC. Teagle was selected as chairman of its Industrial Relations Committee, which demonstrates the central role of the Rockefeller network in the corporate community once again. One of Teagle's first decisions was to appoint all the vice-presidents that were members of the Special Conference Committee to the Industrial Relations Committee, thereby making that private group into a governmental body. Rockefeller's personal employee, Edward Cowdrick, the aforementioned secretary of the Special Conference Committee, was made secretary of the new BAC committee. Reflecting the seamless overlap of the corporate community and government in the early New Deal, Cowdrick wrote as follows to an AT&T executive. The memo deserves to be quoted because it reveals one of the ways the corporate leaders explained their involvement in government advisory groups, as well as a decision to avoid any mention of the Special Conference Committee, even though the government advisory meetings were part of Special Conference Committee meetings. The members were told they would be there as individuals, not as representatives of their companies or as members of the Special Conference Committee: