Daniel Augustus Tompkins papers, 1838, 1868-1920.

Creator: Tompkins, Daniel Augustus, 1851-1914.
Collection number: 724
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Abstract: Daniel Augustus Tompkins (1851-1914) was an engineer, manufacturer, publisher, author, and leader in Southern industrial development. A native of South Carolina, he received a degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy, N.Y., in 1873; worked in the steel industry in New York, 1873-1874, and Pennsylvania, 1874-1883; worked as agent for the Westinghouse Machine Company and as an engineer, machinist, and contractor in Charlotte, N.C.; was principal owner of three cotton mills; owned controlling interests in the Charlotte “Daily Observer” and the Greenville (S.C.) “News”; wrote a history of Mecklenburg County, N.C., and books about cotton mill operations; and worked actively in business and civic organizations. Correspondence, chiefly 1900-1914, concerning the business and civic interests of Daniel Augustus Tompkins; speeches and articles by Tompkins, mostly on economic issues; and family correspondence. Papers document Tompkins’s interest in national economic issues, such as banking, currency, the tariff, immigration, labor relations, child labor, and merchant marine, and in improving the South by promoting industrial development, foreign trade, education, and betterment work, as well as his business interests and family relationships. Correspondence about national issues includes letters to and from Senator Lee S. Overman and U.S. Representative E. Y. Webb. Business letters discuss Tompkins’s engineering business in Charlotte, N.C., and his cotton mills in Charlotte and High Shoals, N.C., and in Edgefield, S.C.; his work for the South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition Company; and to a lesser extent, the business of the Charlotte “Daily Observer” and the Greenville (S.C.) “News.” Other letters document Tompkins’s involvement in the National Association of Manufacturers and its committees, and in other business and civic organizations, including the U.S. Industrial Commission, 1900-1902; the National Council of Commerce; the Board of Trustees of the North Carolina Agriculture and Mechanic Arts College (later North Carolina State University); and the Charlotte Park and Tree Commission (Charlotte, N.C.). Family correspondence includes many letters about Tompkins’s personal business, especially the management of property in Edgefield, S.C.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Topics reflected in the collection include blacks living in Ontario (1908) and the racial climate in the South (1909).Correspondence in from D.A. Tompkins in 1912 discusses his view of the proper relations between blacks and whites.

In February 1912, Tompkins wrote to the mayor of Pretoria, South Africa, to the U.S. Consul in Johannesburg, to the National Association of Manufacturers, and to the Associated Press asking for information about the status and rights of blacks in South Africa. Responses from the NAM and the AP are included here. Tompkins also wrote early in 1912 about race relations to George Brunson, the editor of the Greenville News.