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  • The Cadillac of Rocking Chairs

    Marcellus Barksdale, a Morehouse College historian, describes what happened to the South as a result of the Civil War. In Marietta, returning Confederate soldier James Remley Brumby dreamed of a better future and started making rocking chairs. The chair company grew to become Marietta’s largest employer.

    Support Materials

    Discuss

    1. According to the narrator, how was the Confederate solider "trading one battle for another" after the Civil War?

    2. How can the story of the Brumby rocker been seen as one of renewal and rejuvenation?

    3. As Phil Secrist describes, how was the Civil War itself an enterprise for people after the war was over? Why was this necessary?

    Expansion

    1. Conduct research to find the origin and meaning of the following terms used in the Brumby Furniture Company advertisements: "electroliers," "Hoosier kitchen cabinets," and "davenettes." Discuss if there are similar pieces of furniture in use today.

    2. What does it means to call a Brumby chair the “Cadillac of rocking chairs"? Describe why the Brumby Chair Company could be characterized as an entrepreneurial effort.

    Vocabulary

    obituary: a published notice of a person's death
    unimpeachable: impossible to condemn; without fault 
    conviction: a strong belief
    capital: net worth; the sum of all one's money holdings and assets (equipment, labor, etc.) that go into producing more money

    For Teachers

    Discussion Guide

    1. According to the narrator, how was the Confederate solider "trading one battle for another" after the Civil War?
    The South and its economy had been devastated by four years of war. Getting enough to eat and survive proved a great challenge. With the economy in shambles, finding work to feed and clothe a family was also a daily struggle. 

    2. How can the story of the Brumby rocker been seen as one of renewal and rejuvenation?
    Although the South was struggling to move beyond the devastation of the Civil War, the entrepreneurial spirit that gave the world the Brumby rocker offers hope for a new South built on manufacturing and craftsmanship. Factories were built, jobs began to come back, and small family businesses became thriving enterprises lasting for over a hundred years. 

    3. As Phil Secrist describes, how was the Civil War itself an enterprise for people after the war was over? Why was this necessary?
    Contractors would identify and collect remains of the dead and townspeople would gather discarded lead bullets to sell to hardware stores. With the southern economy destroyed, and the currency issued by the Confederate government worthless, Southerners had to turn to other means to make ends meet.  

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