Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 20, Number 2, Fall, 2008 Page: 21 of 68
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George Clifton Edwards, late in life
first progressive cause, "a movement to start a
Dallas park system."5
In the fall, after the park movement failed
for lack of public support, Edwards returned to
Sewanee to study for the ministry. He remained
for two years, simultaneously teaching English at
Sewanee Grammar School.6 During this period,
one of his professors introduced him to the novels
of Tolstoy. "The vivid picture of man's inhumanity
to man" that he discovered in books such
as War and Peace led Edwards to become "interested
in social work."7 In 1901, after concluding
"that there was little Christianity in the church,"
the thoughtful young Dallasite abandoned his
religious studies and came home, determined to
do something constructive with his life.To make
a living, he began teaching at Dallas High
In short order, Edwards found a cause that
suited his talents and abilities. Six years earlier,
Reverend Hudson Stuck, Dean of St. Matthews'
Cathedral, had started a free night school for fac
tory workers in South Dallas, where "boys and
girls who did not know a from b were taught to
read and write and cipher."9 Supported entirely
by private donations, the school was a solid
example of the "Social Gospel" in action.
Through Stuck, Edwards discovered the city's
cotton mill district, where operatives as young as
eight labored twelve hours a day, six days a week,
for poverty-level wages. He was shocked, not
only by the workers' long hours of toil and
poverty, but also by their illiteracy."'
The situation in Dallas was unfortunate but
not peculiar. In mines, mills, and manufacturing
plants throughout the United States, working
people of all ages labored long hours in unsafe or
unhealthy conditions, struggling to survive on
pennies while wealthy capitalists, in an age of
laissez faire politics and no income tax, amassed
staggering fortunes. The only difference was that
in Texas, all this was relatively new. Following the
Civil War, the South had been slow to industrialize.
By the turn of the century, things were
Fall 2008 LEGACIES 19
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Dallas Heritage Village. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 20, Number 2, Fall, 2008, periodical, 2008; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth46806/m1/21/: accessed December 14, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.