Buffalo (at the end of the Erie Canal) and Chicago. Now for
the first time, New England had a fit road to the West. Her sons
quickly colonized southern Michigan and northern Indiana and
Illinois (cf. 499, 500), and a little later they made the
leading element in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota.
In 1830 Chicago and Milwaukee were still mere fur-trading
stations. Pittsburg, with its 12,000 people, was growing dingy
with coal smoke from its iron mills. Cincinnati (" Porkopolis "),
1 These two classes are often confused.
2 There were nearly as many more free Negroes in the " Negro quarters"
of Northern cities.
THE WEST OF 1830
in the center of a rich farming country, had 25,000 people and
took to itself the name " Queen City of the West " ; but it was
the only place in the oldest Northwestern State with more than
3000 people. St. Louis, the point of exchange between the
fur trade of the upper Mississippi and Missouri, on the north,
and the steamboat trade from New Orleans, boasted 6000.
CHICAGO (FORT DEARBORN) IN 1831. From a lithograph, based on a drawing
of that year. Through the courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society.
New Orleans remained without much change. The rest of the
people dwelt in villages or on farms. Outside the aristocratic
black belt, most of them lived in log cabins with homemade
tables and beds and with rough benches or blocks of wood for
524. Caution. The student must beware of classing Mississippi in
1830 as " Southern," or Illinois as " Northern." " South " and "North "
then applied only to the divisions of the Atlantic States. The country had
three sections, North, South, and West.
During the next twenty years, however, the difference between the two
systems of labor, free and slave, in its northern and southern portions split
the West also into two sections, which then merged with the cor
responding Atlantic sections. In 1850 there were only two sections to the
Union, a North and a South.
526] DEMOCRATIC AND SELF-CONFIDENT 445
525. The Westerners of 1830 had developed a new American
type to remain the dominant one for two generations : tall,
gaunt men, adventurous and resolute, of masterful temper,
daunted by no emergency, impatient of authority, but with a
leaven of high idealism. The West believed in the worth of the
common man. Already it had become " the most American part
of America." Here the new nation showed best its raw youth,
unpolished, but sound at heart ; crude, ungainly, lacking the
poise and repose and dignity of older societies ; but buoyantly
self-confident, throbbing with rude vigor, grappling uncon
cernedly with impossible tasks, getting them done somehow,
and dreaming overnight of vaster ones for the morrow. Some
small embarrassment it felt for its temporary ignorance of
books and art ; but it exulted boastfully in its mastery of
nature and its daring social experiments, and it appealed,
with sure faith, to the future to add the refinements and graces
526. This "American propensity to look forward to the future"
for whatever it lacked in the present, particularly amused the
many supercilious and superficial English travelers of the day.
These prejudice-blinded gentlemen delighted in portraying
with microscopic detail, skin-deep blemishes of American
society. Even Charles Dickens, whom America loved, saw little
but the spittoons and the hurry at the lunch counters. No one
of these critics saw at all the most amazing spectacle of all
history spread before their eyes : a nation in the making,
occupying and subduing a rebellious continent ; felling forests,
plowing prairies, clearing the rivers, hewing out roads ; found
ing farms and towns and commonwealths ; solving offhand
grave economic problems, wastef ully sometimes, but effectively ;
and inventing and working out, on a gigantic scale, new, pro
gressive principles of society and government. "You can't
write books," carped the visitor. " We're busy just now,"
shouted the West carelessly over its shoulder, " but just wait
till we get this bridge built, these prairies farmed, that new
446 THE WEST OF 1830 [ 526
In 1820 Sydney Smith closed his tirade in the Edinburgh
Review with the famous passage :
" Who, in the four quarters of the globe, reads an American book ? or
goes to an American play ? or looks at an American painting or statue ?
. . . Who drinks out of American glasses ? ... or sleeps in American
blankets ? "
To this charge (which the next twenty years were to make
stupendously ridiculous) the North American Review replied
with the customary defense, the appeal to the future. This
resulted in more ridicule from the English Review :
u Others claim honor because of things done by a long line of ances
tors : an American glories in the achievements of a distant posterity. . . .
Others appeal to history ; an American appeals to prophecy. ... If a
traveller complains of the inns, and hints a dislike for sleeping four in a
bed, he ... is told to wait a hundred years and see the superiority of
American inns over British. If Shakspere, Milton, Newton, are men
tioned, he is told again, ' Wait till we have cleared our land, till we have
idle time, wait till 1900, and then see how much nobler our poets and pro-
founder our philosophers and longer our telescopes, than any your decrepit
old hemisphere will produce.' "
That the retort might not seem so amusing " in 1900 " never
occurred to the English humorist, or that there was quite as
much sense in taking pride in descendants (whom we will have
some share in fashioning) as in ancestors, who have only fash
ioned us. Englishmen paid dearly for this flippant blindness
by the rancor stirred in American hearts, which unhappily
persisted long after England had frankly confessed her error.
THE AWAKENING OF LABOR, 1825-1837
Laborin" 1 man an' laboriri 1 woman
Hev one glory an' one shame :
Ev'y thin' thefs done inhuman
Injers all on 'em the same.
LOWELL, in the Biglow Papers.
527. The democratic upheaval of the thirties, revealed first in
the election of Jackson, was. due, first of all, to the growth of
the West (ch. xlvii). Next to that, it was due to the awakening
of the labor class in Eastern cities.
In large degree, this labor class was a new class, due to the re
cent introduction of new machinery, and new methods of manu
facturing, from England. In the last quarter of the eighteenth
century, while America was waging her War of Independence,
and while France was giving the world her great social revolu
tion, obscure craftsmen in England busied in homely toil,
puzzling day after day over wheels and belts and levers, and
seeking some way to save time had been working out the
Industrial Revolution which was to change the daily life of the
masses of men and women and children over all the world.
528. In colonial times, each housewife spent all spare mo
ments at the spinning wheel, drawing out the fiber of flax or
wool into thread or yarn, one thread at a time. This thread
was woven into cloth on the primitive hand loom, older than
history. In America this weaving also was usually done in
each farm home. In England it was done commonly by a dis
tinct class of skilled weavers.
529. The spinning was the slower work. One weaver could
use all the thread that eight spinning wheels could supply.
448 THE LABOR MOVEMENT, 1825-1837 [ 530
The weavers could not get thread fast enough ; and in 1761
prizes began to be offered for inventions for swifter spinning.
Three years later just when parliament was blundering into
the Stamp Act James Hargreaves, an English weaver, noticed
that his wife's spinning wheel, tipped over on the floor, kept
on whirling for a surprising time. Taking a hint from this
position, he invented a machine where one ivheel turned eight
spindles, and spun eight threads at a time. Hargreaves called
the new machine the Jenny, for his wife. Soon it was improved
so as to spin sixteen threads at a time.
Then in 1771 (two years after Lord North had provoked the
" Boston Massacre," and two years before he provoked the
Boston Tea Party) Richard Arkwright, an English peddler, de
vised a new sort of spinner without spindles. He ran his wool
or cotton through a series of rollers, turning at different rates,
to draw out the thread ; and he drove his machine by tvater power,
and so called it the Water Frame. The year after Burgoyne's
Surrender, or in 1779, 'Samuel Crompton, an English weaver, in
geniously combined the best features of the Jenny and the Water
Frame in a machine which he called the Mule, in honor of this
mixed parentage. With the Mule, one spinner could spin two
hundred threads at a time.
530. Two hundred threads seem few to us, familiar as we
are to-day with machinery such that a man with one or two
boys winds 12,000 spools at once; but at the time the Mule
made a revolution in cloth manufacturing. Now the weavers
could not keep up with the spinners ; and it was needful to improve
On the hand loom, threads were first drawn out lengthwise
on a frame, making the warp. The weaver then passed his
shuttle by hand back and forth between those threads to form
the woof. But in 1784 Edmund Cartwright, an English clergy
man, patented a power loom, in which the shuttle threw itself back
and forth automatically.
531. The next need was more cotton to spin and weave.
Whitney's Cotton Gin ( 436) soon made it easy for America to
534J THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION 449
furnish that. And, even sooner, Watt's engines began to
provide a better power than water to drive the new machinery.
Steam was first used to drive spinning machinery in 1785.
Fifteen years later, England was using more steam engines
than water wheels. By 1 800 the age of steam and of machinery
had fairly begun in that country.
532. The English inventions were soon known in America
( 435), but they did not come into common use here for another
generation. In 1800 this country had only four steam engines,
and only four cotton mills run by water. The Industrial Revo
lution came here sooner than in any other country after Eng
land ; but it did not begin for us until .the War of 1812 made
it necessary for us, for a time, to manufacture all our own
533. With machinery and steam power, one laborer was soon
able to produce more wealth than hundreds had produced by the old
hand processes. This ought to have been pure gain for all the
world, and especially it should have meant more comfort and
more leisure for the workers. It is not the fault of Hargreaves
and Crompton and Cartwright and Watt that most of the new
wealth went to a new class of capitalists : the fault lay with
the imperfect organization of human society. Part of the in
creased wealth did go, indirectly, to the common gain, in lower
prices. Every one could soon buy cloth and hardware cheaper
than before the Industrial Revolution. But, even yet, the
workers have failed to get their fair share of the world's gain ;
and for many of them the Industrial Revolution has meant, not
higher life, but lower life. Especially was this true when that
Revolution was young.
534. The new machinery was costly. Workmen could not
own it as they had owned their old looms and spinning wheels.
Nor did they know how to combine so as to own it in groups.
It all passed into the hands of wealthy men (" capitalists "). The
capitalist manufacturer was a new figure in human society.
He was not himself a workman, like the small employers in the
old Domestic system. He used his money to build huge brick
450 THE LABOR MOVEMENT, 1825-1837 [ 535
factories story on story ; to fill them with costly machinery ;
to buy the " raw material " (cotton, wool, iron, as the case might
be) ; and to pay wages to hired workers, or " operatives." The
" Domestic " system of industry gave way to a new Capitalist sys
tem, or Wage system, or Factory system.
535. Under the old Domestic system, even in manufacturing
districts like Pennsylvania, the workmen lived in their own
homes, owned their own tools, and varied their toil (or used
idle time) by tilling plots of ground about their cottages.
Their condition was more like that of the farmer of to-day than
like that of the modern factory worker.
As the Factory system came in, the worker was compelled to change
his whole manner of life. He must reach the factory within a
few minutes of the first bell, about sunrise, and stay until it
grew too dark for work. (There were then no artificial lights
suitable to illuminate factories.) So the capitalist built long
blocks of ugly tenements near his factory, for rent ; and his
" hands " moved from their rural homes, with garden spots and
fresh air and varied industry, into these crowded and squalid
tenement districts, to live amid destitution and disease and vice.
The factory system built up towns swiftly; but these new
towns had no fit water supply, no sewerage system, no garbage
collection. Science had not learned how to care for these needs,
and law had not begun to wrestle with them.
536. Thus the new manufacturing society was made up of two
hostile classes. Under the Domestic system, apprentices and
journeymen had expected to rise, sooner or later, to be "mas
ters " ; and at all times they lived in constant intercourse with
their employers, who worked side by side with them, shared
their hard conditions, and had a sort of fatherly guardianship
over them. Under the new system, a particularly enterprising
and fortunate workman might now and then rise into the capi
talist class ; but, on the whole a distinct and permanent line
divided the two classes.
The capitalist, too, had no personal contact with his work
men. He employed, not two or three, living in his own family,
THE NEW CAPITALISTS
but hundreds or thousands, whom he never saw outside the
factory and whose names even he did not know except on the
payroll. There was little chance for understanding between
him and his " hands."
537. The men who owned and managed factories and banks
and canal systems, together with a growing body of speculators
and small money-masters, made up the capitalist class. They
The Distribution of
SCALE OF MILES
With permission, from Dodd's Expansion and Conflict (" Riverside History of
the United States"), published by the Ho ugh ton Mifflin Company. Dr.
Dodd states that the map was prepared by Miss Maud Hulse from data in
were keen, forceful, driving men, with few interests outside
"business." Absorbed in a mad race with one another for
wealth and power, they had little sympathy or time for the
needs of the two million l " operatives " whose lives they ordered
almost as absolutely as Southern planters ordered the lives of
their two million Blacks.
Like the planters of the black belt, too, they dwelt mainly
in a small area a narrow, curving band of manufacturing
1 This is McMaster's estimate for the whole number of operatives in all lines
452 THE LABOR MOVEMENT, 1825-1837 [ 538
territory ; but through many subtle influences, they held the
faithful allegiance of the whole North Atlantic section from the
Chesapeake to the Kennebec. They furnished the stocks and
controlled the credit of the storekeepers in the small towns ;
they endowed the colleges and built the churches ; they gave
the best-paying employment to lawyers. The farmers lately
followers of Jefferson felt their prosperity bound up with
that of the great industrial towns that made their markets ;
and even the operatives long voted unquestioningly for the sys
tem which, they were assured, filled their meager dinner pails.
Nor were any of these tributary classes consciously servile.
To most people in this period a " captain of industry " typified
American success. He was the natural leader, honestly ad
mired as a model for youth.
This capitalist class early developed a keen scent for special
privilege, to be secured through courts and legislatures.
Especially did it take advantage of the generous Americanism
of South and West just after the war of 1812 to intensify the
" protection " for its pet industries in the tariffs of the period.
From this it reaped a rich harvest. Between 1820 and 1830
the output of American factories rose sixfold. In 1830 its
value was a half greater than that of all the produce of South
ern plantations though the planters had an investment five
times that of the factory owners. Since the factory workers got
only a bare living, this huge factory output meant immense
profits for the capitalist.
538. Between 1800 and 1825 the mass of hired labor in America
shifted from the farm to the factory. The factory " operative,"
like the capitalist, was a new figure. And, unlike the capitalist,
he was a helpless one. He furnished nothing but his hands.
Numbers of men wanted work ; and much factory work could
be done by women and children, especially in cloth manufac
tures, where it consisted largely in turning levers or tying
broken threads or cleaning rollers. Until the operatives learned
to combine, so as to bargain collectively, the capitalist fixed wages
and hours and conditions as he liked.
539] THE DAWN-TO-DARK DAY 453
539. Carpenters and masons commonly worked from sunrise
to sunset just as farm laborers did. Those long hours were
terribly hard ; but they were endurable because they were spent
in fresh air, amid outdoor scenes, in interesting and varied ac
tivity. But this long labor day of thirteen or fifteen hours (for
much of the year) was now carried into the factory. There it
was unendurable and ruinous, because of foul air, poor light,
incessant, nerve-racking noise of machinery, and because
there it crushed women and children.
Hope Factory (Rhode Island), in 1831, rang its first bell ten
minutes before sunrise. Five minutes after sunrise the gates
were locked against tardy comers, not to open again until eight
at night. (And a committee of laborers claimed that the
employer stretched this horrible " day " by twenty or twenty-
five minutes more, by always keeping the factory clock slow.)
The only respites from toil during the fifteen or sixteen hours
were twenty-five minutes for breakfast and a like period for
dinner, both meals being cold lunches brought by the opera
tives. And more than half the operatives were children.
This was not an exceptional instance : it was typical. At
Paterson, New Jersey, women and children were at their work
in the mills by 4 : 30 in the morning. The Eagle Mill (at
Griswold, Connecticut) called on its employees, in 1832, for
fifteen hours and ten minutes of actual toil.
Lowell ivas a notable exception. No child under twelve was
employed there ; the day was " short " ; and all conditions
were unusually favorable. At 4 : 30 A.M. the bell summoned
the workers from their beds. At five they must be within the
mills, and the gates were closed. With a half hour, later, for
breakfast, and forty-five minutes for " dinner/' the labor con
tinued till 7 P. M. The manufacturing company provided plain
lodgings and arrangements for cheap board at $ 1 .50 per week.
Skillful workers (paid by the piece) might possibly earn twice
that amount. The employees were almost all farmers 7 daugh
ters. After their fourteen hours a day in the factory, these
vigorous young women, for one generation, had energy for liter-
454 THE LABOR MOVEMENT, 1825-1837 [ 540
ary clubs and social activities. Churches and lectures arranged
their meetings late enough in the evening to be attended by
these eager working girls. The girls wrote, edited, and pub
lished a periodical of considerable literary merit. 1
540. The working class were first aroused against this long labor
day by a growing conviction of the need of schooling for factory
children. In the Massachusetts legislature of 1825, a com
mittee on education sent inquiries to the mayors and aldermen
of all Massachusetts factory towns regarding hours of labor
for children and opportunities for schooling. The replies
were as favorable as shame, or local pride, could make them ;
but no town claimed less than eleven hours of steady work
per day for children (from six to seventeen years old), and
only two reported so short a day. The "dawn to dark"
day was frankly reported in many cases. Seekunk stated
that its child operatives " work twelve hours ; Some may get
eight weeks' Schoolg." 2 Waltham failed to state the hours
of labor, but said, " As much oppy for Schoolg as can be
expected " (!) Bellingham honestly declared, " Work twelve
hours pr day. No oppy for School except by employg
substitutes." [This long labor day meant every day in the
year, save Sundays, be it remembered, except in a few places
where conditions made it more profitable to close the fac
tories for some eight weeks of the winter.] Southbridge
reported " Average twelve hours. These children are better off
than their neighbors " (!) [An average of twelve hours meant
1 Lucy Larcom's A New England Girlhood. I have also heard this society
described vividly by a woman of strong character and fine culture, long a
leading educator in a progressive State, who was herself a Lowell factory
girl in the forties. Labor gatherings*to complain of factory conditions often
made mention of Lowell as an honorable example to other factory towns.
2 The quotations from these replies are given from a tabulated summary
made by the committee in its report to the legislature. The report seems
never to have been printed until it was reproduced recently in the Documen
tary History of American Industrial Society (10 vols. ; edited by John R.
Commons, in association with four other scholars). Most of the other facts
about labor stated in 539-555 are based upon documents given in Volume
V and VI of that work edited by Dr. Commons and Helen L. Sumner.
540] DEMAND FOR SCHOOLS 455
some fourteen hours in summer, to balance the short winter
days.] Boston said concisely, "No Schoolg." Fall Eiver,
with unconscious irony, stated, " Work all day. There are
good public and private S. and a free Sunday School."
These horrible conditions show even more plainly in a
temperate statement by " Many Operatives " in the Mechanics'
Free Press for August 21, 1830, regarding children in the
Philadelphia factories :
44 It is a well-known fact that the principal part of the helps in cotton
factories consist of boys and girls, we may safely say from six to seventeen
years of .age. . . . We are confident that not more than one-sixth of the
boys and girls employed in such factories are capable of reading or writing
their own names. We have known many instances where parents who
are capable of giving their children a trifling education, one at a time,
[have been] deprived of that opportunity by their employers' threats that
if they did take one child from their employ, a short time, for school,
such family must leave the employment . . . and we have even known
such threats put in execution. . . . " J
In 1832, at a Boston convention of New England Mechanics
and Workingmen, a committee reported upon the schooling of
working-class children with much detail. The summary of
that report runs :
" The children . . . employed in manufactories constitute about two
fifths of the ichole number of persons employed. . . . On a general aver
age the youth and children . . . are compelled to labor at least thirteen
and a half, perhaps fourteen, hours per day, factory time. . . . Your
committee also learn that in general no child can be taken from a Cotton
Mill, to be placed at school, for any length of time, however short,
without certain loss of employ. . . . Nor are parents, having a number
of children in a mill, allowed to withdraw one or more without withdraw
ing the whole, for which reason, as such children are generally the off
spring of parents whose poverty has made them entirely dependent on the
will of their employers, they are very seldom taken from the mills to be
placed in school. ... It is with regret that your committee are abso-
1 The communication expresses indignation at the retort of an employer
that legislation to shorten the factory day " would be an infringement on the
rights of the people," and queries significantly " whether this individual,
or the number employed by him, is ' the people.' "
456 THE LABOR MOVEMENT, 1825-1837 [ 541
lutely forced to the conclusion that the only opportunities allowed to chil
dren generally, employed in manufactories, to obtain an education, are on
the Sabbath and after half-past 8 o'clock of the evening of other days.