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  1. The Changing Workplace

  2. Rural Manufacturing • Pre-1820: only thread production was mechanized • Other work was done in a cottage industry where women took materials and finished products at home, took them to the manufacturer, and paid them for the piece • Cabot Lowell and his associates mechanize the entire process in weaving factories with power looms

  3. Early Factory System • Prior to factories, work was done by skilled artisans • Apprentice  Journeyman  Master • Products were all traditionally hand crafted • 1820s: Machines developed that allowed non-skilled laborers to do the work that skilled artisans used to do • Increased production time and profits

  4. Women in the Workforce • In Lowell, MA and other mill towns, “mill girls” made up the bulk of the work force • Girls left their failing family farms to make money as factory workers • Lived in boarding houses • 4 out of 5 were younger than 30 years old • Owners hired females because they could pay them less than males

  5. Working Conditions in Lowell • 5 AM: wake up, 7 AM: work begins, 12:30 PM: dinner, 1-7:30 PM: work • Constant heat, darkness, poor ventilation contribute to frequent illness • 1830s – conditions continue to worsen

  6. Organized Labor • Workers strike in response to an 1834 wage cut • Press and clergy pressure women back to work, strike leaders fired • Second strike in 1836 after an increase in board charges yields same result • 1845 – Lowell Female Labor Reform Association founded to petition government for a 10 hour work day

  7. Organized Labor • The example of mill workers spread to other industries: coal workers, carpenters, printers, and other artisans all strike • Only 1 to 2 percent of American workers were organized • Employers won most strikes because they could hire strikebreakers to fill the empty positions

  8. Immigration Increases • 1845-1854 – 3 million European immigrants come to the U.S. (total population 20 million) • Majority German or Irish • Most settled in North • Slavery limited economic opportunity • Southerners were hostile toward Catholics

  9. Second Wave of Immigration • Great Potato Famine killed 1 million Irish and drove another million to the U.S. • Irish faced bitter prejudice because they were Catholic and poor • Many believed in a Catholic conspiracy to take over the U.S. and responded with violence and racism

  10. Unions Gain Traction • National Trades’ Union formed by journeymen from six different industries • Commonwealth v. Hunt (1842) – MA Supreme Court supports workers’ right to strike • Like in religion, politics, and society, economic reform strengthened the individual worker