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Labor and Work in America before 1877 Spring 2018 575:201 Professor Hayes Second paper topic We typically think of the Civil War as an issue of North and South, but the West was critically important in this division. How and why was it so important, and what were the most important issues? You should plan to write a cohesive, formal essay, 1300 to 1600 words, in which you develop an argument and advance it through making points and using evidence to back them up. The formatting is the usual – double-spaced, standard margins, normal sized font (11 or 12 point, depending on which you choose) and so on. Do not use outside sources for this assignment. You should only be referencing the documents on Sakai (The West documents), the textbook, and what we have covered in class. You do not need to use all of the documents, but you should use some of them, along with the textbook. The best papers tend to blend together a variety of different types of sources, making for a stronger case. You can just use parenthetical citations (Author, page number) after something you wish to cite. Since you will all be using the same sources, there is no need for a works cited page. The first draft is due in class and on Sakai Thursday, April 19.


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Northern Society and
the Growth of Wage Labor
{rhe Early-Nineteenth-Century North
1$1 ‘Republican Ideology
Society in the North
,M:,rowns and Commerce
The Workingmen’s Movement
Strikes and Protests
Two Outlooks: Morality or the Market?
Democracy and Class in Jacksonian Society
Transformation Begins
Pressure and Westward
in Transportation
and c.ommuhication
Start of an Industrial Revolution
and Social Stratification
Politics and the Second Party System
Gender, Domesticity, and the Emergence of a
“Middling Class”
The Second Great Awakening
Depression and Crisis in Northern Society
Conclusion: A Divided Republic
Labor and Resistance
ifcArtisans and Outworkers
®/’Manual Laborers and Factory Operatives
Massachusetts women of her generation, Abigail
Mcintire was pregnant when she married in 1788. Her husband, Mayo
Greenleaf Patch, owned no property, so the couple lived in a small house
built by Abigail’s father, earning money by shoemaking. A decade and six
children later, the Patches were struggling to make a living from rented
farms and shoemakers’ shops in various places and getting deeper into debt.
In 1807, they moved to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where spinning mills
turned slave-grown cotton from the South into yarn for making cloth.
Abigail and the children worked at home, cleaning cotton and weaving cloth
for the mills. Mayo took to drink, stole Abigail’s and the children’s wages,
and in 1812 walked out on them. Six years later, after he had been iniprisoned
for counterfeiting, Abigail divorced hini. She and her children continued to
support themselves by working for wages in Pawtucket. One of the sons,
Sam, later obtained notoriety as a daredevil jumper. Poverty and wage labor,
the growth of manufacturing and the factory system, women’s labor in early
factories and domestic outwork, the connections between northern industry and the slave economy of the South-all these facets of Abigail’s life also
had broad significance for the transformation of the North in the early
nineteenth century,
H_ampshire Textile
portraits of workers of
Ami::>skeag Manufacturing
” -Company in Manchester, New
_Hampshire, c.1854. Manche-ster
Historic Assciciatiori.
The Early-Nineteenth-Century North
The Patches’ story illustrates the struggle of thousands of northern families
to sustain their economic independence in the years after the American Revohition. Many faced scarce resources in settled rural regions such as eastern
• 325
326 •
Massachusetts and were obliged to move or change their occupations. Many
would leave for the newly opening West, hoping to establish successful
farms on frontier land. Others went to sea or to the growing port cities. The
Patches were among the first to become wageworkers in the North’s new
manufacturing industries. Men and women who remained in the countryside also became increasingly involved in producing goods for sale or in
working for wages (Map 7.1).
Many Northerners hoped that economic prosperity would guarantee
their material independence. Whereas in the plantation South, the expansion of slavery created a growing propertyless and dependent workforce, it
seemed possible that the North, where slavery was disappearing, would
become a society of independent proprietors. Instead, northern towns,
industries, and farms came to rely increasingly on the labor of wageworkers.
In 1800, about 12 percent of the U.S. labor force worked for wages. By 1860,
the proportion was around 40 percent, and the majority of wage employees
were concentrated in the North. This change signaled a growing divergence
between northern and southern societies and called into question the
republican vision of property-owning independence for most Americans. It
also gave rise to a working people’s movement. By the i83os, wage earners
were defending their economic position and asserting their right to equal
respect with their more prosperous fellow citizens.
Republican Ideology One legacy of the American Revolution was the
belief that the republic would best be preserved if voters were politically
“independent;’ not subject to coercion by others. At first, this seemed best
assured if voters were economically “independent;’ too. They should own
property, which would give them a stake in society and free them from the
influence of people with some hold over them. Those without propertywomen, children, the poor, servants, and slaves -were regarded as
“dependent” on others and so to be excluded from voting, officeholding, or
public political debate. Women were assigned the role of”republican moth·
ers;’ expected to raise their children to be virtuous citizens but not themselves to obtain the full benefits of citizenship.
These “republican” assumptions were widely shared, North and South.
An overwhelming majority of Americans were engaged in agriculture, many
on small freehold farms, and a significant proportion of men owned land.
Indeed, most people expected the United States to have an agrarian future,
and this expectation was to some extent borne out. Rural society expanded
rapidly. By 1840, over So percent of people in the North still lived in rural
areas; in the South, the proportion was over 90 percent. Most continued to
work in agriculture, and agricultural goods such as cotton, grain, and lumber were among the United States’ most important products.
< 0 c. ATLANTIC OCEAN 150 0 0 150 300 Miles 300 Kilometers Principal roads Guff of Mexico MAP 7.1 Stage roads Ill Unceded Indian lands The United States at the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century While migration to the frontier pushed the settled areas of the United States westward and southward, the northeastern states were already emerging as a region of denser population, larger urban centers, and better roads than in the rest of the nation. D. W. Meinig, The Shaping of America: A Geographical Perspective on 500 Years of History, vol. 2, Continental America, 1800-1867 (1993). 328 • PART TWO: FREE LABOR AND SLAVERY, 1790-1850 Belief in the virtues of rural life was deeply ingrained. Suspicious of cities with their crowds and potential disorder, Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1785 that farmers were "the chosen people of God" and implied that urban growth would threaten the republic's future. When he arranged the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, doubling the territory of the United States, Jefferson hailed the acquisition of a vast reserve of land that could ensure the future of a propertyowning republic; the United States would grow crops to feed its population and export abroad, exchanging them for manufactures produced in more socially unequal countries such as Britain. As late as 1810, Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin claimed that "the superior attractions of agricultural pursuits, the abundance of land compared with the population, the high price of labor, and the want of sufficient capital" would inhibit the growth of American manufacturing. Other circumstances also appeared to favor an agrarian future. The cotton gin boosted cotton exports from the South, and wars in Europe following the French Revolution of 1789 fostered American trade with markets in Western Europe and the Mediterranean. Northern merchants established new trade links with Asia. All expanded the overseas commerce that could supply America's need for manufactures. Jefferson and others who extolled rural America's republican virtues did not suggest that all rural people were fit to exercise political leadership. Beneath the partisan strife of the 1790s and 1800s between the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans lay shared expectations about who should rule. Federalists were explicitly elitist. "The best men;' whose birth, education, or wealth guaranteed their virtue and independence, should govern; lesser property owners should defer to these leaders and accept their authority. Democratic-Republicans attacked the most hierarchical of these assumptions, but leaders such as Jefferson also assumed that power would be exercised by a "natural aristocracy" whose talents best suited them for government. Yet the success of the Revolution, the opening of the continent, and the establishment of new state and federal governments sowed the seeds of economic change and new political traditions. During the early nineteenth cen- "Venerate the Plough" The independent farmer plowed the path to prosperity for the Republic on this seal of the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture. "The Plan of a farm Yard," Columbian Magazine, October 1786 Philosophical Society Library. CHAPTER 7: NORTHERN SOCIETY AND THE GROWTH OF WAGE LABOR • 329 tury, political culture was transformed, turning republicanism in a more democratic direction, although restricting participation to white males only. It also became clear that the United States would not remain simply an agrarian society. Particularly in the North, economic development altered the republican vision. By 1840, an industrial revolution was under way in the Northeast. Cities were growing rapidly in size and influence. Population growth and commercial expansion were creating new divisions, both between North and South and within northern society itself. Rural Society in the North Though North and South were both mainly rural in 1800, they differed greatly. Southern planters used a large enslaved workforce to produce exportable commodities. Most northern whites, in contrast, lived in small-farm regions that consumed much of what they produced. Family farming, supported by cooperation between neighbors, sustained a republican notion of economic independence that contemporaries often referred to as a "modest competence." Typical northern farms were modestly sized, between 40 and i20 acres, and worked by the families that owned them. Employment as a laborer or tenant was often a stepping-stone to acquiring one's own farm. Even so, "There Is No Want of Meat and Drink Here": An Immigrant Writes Home In the following letter, written in August 1818 from Germantown, Pennsylvania, Alice Barlow destribes in detail the bounty of available food and drink. Letters such as this helped to lure other Northern Europeans to migrate to America in the decades that followed. Dear Mother: I write to say we are all in good health, and hope this will find you so.... Tell my brother John I think he would do yerywell here; my husband can go out and catch a bucket of fish in a few minutes; and John brings as many apples as he can carry, when he comes from school; also cherries, grapes, and peaches, we get as much bread as we can all eat in a day for seven pence; altho' it is now called dear [expen- · sive]. Dear mother, I wish you were all as well off as we now are: there is no want of meat and drink here. We have a gallon of spirits every week; and I have a bottle of porter per day myself, in short I have everything I could wish .... Tell little Adam, if he was here, he would get puddings and pies every day. Tell my old friends I shall be looking for them next spring; and also tell my brother John and sister Ann, if they were here, they would know nothing of poverty. I live like an Indian Queen., .• Your affectionate daughter, Alice Barlow Edith Abott, _ed., Historical kpects bf the Iinmigratio'n Problem (1926}'. 330 • PART TWO: FREE LABOR AND SLAVERY, :1-790-1850 The Residence of David Twining, 1.787 Edward Hicks, a Quaker painter of coaches and signs, completed this painting in the late 1840s. Hicks's idealized representation of a "well-ordered" eighteenth-century farm was based on memories of his hood with the Twining family in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Edward Hicks, 1845-1848-Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Ceriter, Williamsburg, Virginia. inequality was widespread. Tenancy blighted parts of New York and other states, and some farmers still held slaves who were not yet freed under gradual emancipation laws. Landless farm laborers could be found everywhere, and a majority of free blacks in the rural North owned little or no land. Still, the ideal of land ownership remained within reach for many. journeying through New York and New England, the Reverend Timothy Dwight was convinced that "[n]o man here begins life with the expectation of being a mere laborer. All intend to possess, and almost all actually possess, a comfortable degree of prosperity and independence." For white farmers at least, landownership conferred the right to be treated by others as an equal. Economic independence required the labor of all family members. Husbands and sons, by and large, worked the fields. Most other tasks, including manufacturing household goods, fell to wives and daughters. One farm journal reported that women's work amounted to half of all farm labor: Women ... picked their own wool, ... spun their own yarn, drove their own looms, made and mended their own chairs, braided their own baskets, wove their own carpets, quilts, and coverlets, ... milked their own cows, [and] fed their own calves. On their Maine farm in the 1790s, Martha Ballard and her daughters produced cloth, raised garden produce, preserved vegetables, and did CHAPTER 7: NORTHERN SOCIETY AND THE GROWTH OF WAGE LABOR • 331 household chores, and Ballard served as a midwife in her neighborhood. Women raised children, nursed the sick, and cared for the elderly. Men celebrated an economic independence that rested heavily on the skills and exertions of their sisters, wives, and daughters. Farm families were often linked by ties of kinship, religion, and ethnicity. Most settlements included a church, a general store, and a few artisans, such as carpenters and blacksmiths, who might ply their trades only parttime. Proper schoolhouses, doctors, and lawyers were scarce. Families exchanged work and goods, sharing tools or lending a hand when harvesting or barn raising required extra help. Beyond these local ties, rural independence also rested on links to outside markets, most significant in grain-exporting regions such as Pennsylvania but essential everywhere for the assurance of even minimal comfort. Salt, sugar, molasses, coffee, tea, tobacco, gunpowder, guns, knives, and axes could not be produced at home, and farm families exchanged crops or home manufactures to pay for them. Yet as late as i820, only one-fifth of the North's farm output found its way beyond local communities into urban markets. Farm families also purchased modestly. About two-thirds of the clothing rural Americans wore between 1810 and 1820 was homen1ade, mostly by women. Poor transportation hindered inland trade, protecting those producing for local markets from distant competitors. With few rivers and poor roads connecting coast and hinterland, a ton of goods cost as much to ship 30 miles overland as to be brought by sea from Europe. Towns and Commerce In iSoo, the northern merchant elite conducted business largely in the cities and smaller port towns of the coast. Unlike southern planters, they were not generally directly concerned with production but obtained their wealth from trade. Urban markets were small; fewer than one in twelve Americans lived in places with populations of 2,500 or more. The biggest mercantile profits went to traders in oceangoing commerce between the Americas and Europe. American neutrality in the European wars of the i79os and early iSoos gave merchants from the Northeast dominance of trade routes that were largely closed to other nations. Trade with China, first established in the mid-178os by merchants in Philadelphia and Salem, Massachusetts, offered substantial profits from the sale of the tea, silks, porcelain, lacquerware, and other exotic goods brought back to the United States. Mercantile success brought great wealth to some Americans and provided employment to many others, especially smaller merchants and the sailmakers, ropemakers, carpenters, caulkers, and barrel makers whose crafts were connected with shipping. But the benefits were not equally shared. After farmers, the nation's largest group of workers were seamen, who labored for modest wages in dangerous conditions, often on long 332 • PART Two: FREE LABOR AND SLAVERY, 1790-1850 voyages. Large numbers of women in the port towns struggled for livelihoods while their husbands were absent: Lydia Almy of Salem wove cloth, tanned leather, made cider, looked after livestock, worked in the fields, carted wood, and cooked for boarders at her house. Boston mariners' wives worked for the city's ropemakers and other employers. Many were poor. In every port lived widows and families of men who never returned from the sea. Maritime trade did not substantially improve the North's position in world production. "The brilliant prospects held out by commerce:' wrote Adam Seybert, a Philadelphia congressman, "caused our citizens to neglect the mechanical and manufacturing branches of industry:' Between 1795 and 1815, the United States ran up a large trade deficit, spending $350 million more for foreign goods than it received for exports. Indeed, nearly half of U.S. exports were really re-exports-goods produced abroad, purchased by American merchants, and resold to other countries. Although this kind of trade amassed profits, it did not directly stimulate the growth of domestic commercial agriculture or industry. A Transformation Begins Pressure for change came from several directions. Immigration from Europe, especially to the Middle Atlantic region, increased the supply of urban labor. European warfare in the early nineteenth century encouraged many merchants to redirect their attention from overseas to domestic investment. Transportation improvements, linking coastal areas to the inte- rior, fostered the emergence of regional and national markets for goods. Faced with population growth and inequalities, farm families in rural areas migrated or sought fresh sources of income. All these developments contributed to the expansion of manufacturing in many parts of the North and to the emergence of new patterns of labor and social division. Population Pressure and Westward Movements This pressure for change arose partly within rural society. For some farmers, maintaining independence required accumulating wealth, but for most, it meant achieving a "competency": cultivating enough land to feed a family, to acquire necessities that could not be made at home, and to obtain land on which grown sons could establish their own farms. Population growth and land scarcity in older regions made these things difficult to achieve. Many southern New England farms were too small to support all the offspring of large families and ran short of essentials, such as wood for fuel. One son might be given a farm of his own on coming of age, but dividing a homestead among several sons would create small, unprofitable holdings. According to their means, farmers took various steps to avoid this. They turned to the market- CHAPTER 7: NORTHERN SOCIETY AND THE GROWTH OF WAGE LABOR • Harriet Noble's Life on the Michigan Frontier Harriet Noble and her family took the northernmost of the major migration west, crossing upstate New York and Lake Erie to reach Detroit. While helping her htisband to complete their-cabin on their isolated farm, Harriet, like many women on the frontier, lamented the absence of neighbors and social institutions. There was one house here, Judge Dextefs; he was building a sawmill, and had a number of men at work at the time; besides these there was hot a white family west of Ann Arbor in Michigan territory.... : I helped to raise the rafters and put on the roof [of their log house], but it was the last of November before our roof was completed. We were obliged to wait for the mill to run in order t ... Purchase answer to see full attachment

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