Daniel Pratt (1799 in Temple, New Hampshire – 1873) pioneered ventures that opened the door for industry in the U.S. state of Alabama. Prattville in Autauga County and Birmingham's Pratt City in Jefferson County (on the Pratt coal seam) are both named for him. His daughter, Ellen is buried in Birmingham's Oak Hill Cemetery.
Pratt started his manufacturing career when he moved to Autauga County in 1833 and founded the new town of Prattville for the workers in his first venture, a cotton gin factory. This operation quickly became the largest producer of cotton gins in the world, and Alabama's first major industry. As his business grew, he branched out with a sawmill, gristmill, window factory, iron foundry, woollen mill, railroad, bank, and the Oxmoor Blast Furnace in Birmingham. Pratt's businesses were badly affected by the American Civil War, as many of his workers joined the military and his customer base shrank as the economy soured.
Much credit is given Pratt's efforts for easing Alabama's economic recovery during the Reconstruction period following the Civil War. His ability to call in debts on Northern accounts allowed him to rebuild his own operations, which helped make Autauga County exceptionally stable and prosperous in the period immediately after the war. It was his backing which opened the Birmingham District to its initial development as an iron-making center.
One of Pratt's slaves, Charles Atwood, purchased a house in the center of Prattville immediately after emancipation and became one of the founding investors in his former master's railroad ventures. The presence of a respected middle-class African American family in the center of a 19th century Southern city was exceptional.
- Tarrant, S. F. H., Honourable Daniel Pratt: A Biography. (1904).
- McMillan, M. C., Daniel Pratt: Antebellum Southern Industrialist (n.d.)
- Miller and Evans, eds., The World of Daniel Pratt. Papers from a Symposium sponsored by the Autauga County Heritage Association. (February 1999)
- Daniel Pratt at the Encyclopedia of Alabama
- Daniel Pratt at Pratthistory.com
- Daniel Pratt at Find a Grave