The Industrial Worker in Pennsylvania, 1800-1840

By William A. Sullivan | Go to book overview

I
THE INDUSTRIAL SETTING

THE YEARS from 1800 to 1840 form a convenient unit for a study of the industrial worker. During these years the status of the worker was undergoing a subtle but profound transformation. The introduction of steam-driven machinery and the growth of the factory system menaced the preëminent position of the skilled artisan, and brought unskilled hands, and women and child wage earners into direct competition with him. These same decades witnessed, too, the emergence of labor as an organized and active force in the economic and social life of the nation.

Pennsylvnia, during these first four decades of the nineteenth century, provides an excellent locale for the study of the labor movement. Probably no other state could match its wealth in natural resources. Its fertile valleys, its wooded mountains, its almost inexhaustible deposits of coal and its beds of iron ore provided a firm foundation for a well-integrated economy. In the East two magnificent waterways, the Delaware and Chesapeake Bay, promised ready access to world markets for its products from the earth, the field and the forest. And beyond the mountains, the Ohio River carried the produce of the western country to the outside world.

Both as colony and commonwealth, Pennsylvnia attracted wage earners of a variety of trades and occupations from the Old World. A generous land policy, a liberal frame of government and a bold advertising campaign made Penn's colony the most cosmopolitan settlement in English North America. German emigrants, the greater part of whom were mechanics and weavers, arrived shortly after the colony was founded.1 Throughout the eighteenth century they came in ever increasing numbers, settling on the rich farm lands in Lancaster County. Welsh settlers arrived early, establishing themselves in Chester and Philadelphia counties. The Scotch-Irish came in alarming numbers. Contemptuous of land titles and disregarding the Indian treaties, they squatted on the unsettled lands of the frontier. Decades

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1
J. Franklin Jameson (ed.), Original Narratives of Early American History: Francis Daniel Pastorius, Circumstantial Description of Pennsylvnia, 1700, printed in Narratives of Early Pennsylvnia, West New Jersey and Delaware 1630-1707 ( New York, 1912), pp. 207ff.

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The Industrial Worker in Pennsylvania, 1800-1840
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • PENNSYLVANIA HISTORICAL AND MUSEUM COMMISSION ii
  • Preface iii
  • TABLE OF CONTENTS vii
  • I - THE INDUSTRIAL SETTING 1
  • II - THE WAGE EARNERS 29
  • III - THE WAGE EARNERS -- PART II 59
  • IV - GROWTH OF TRADE UNIONS 85
  • V - LABOR ORGANIZATION DURING THE AGE OF JACKSON 99
  • VI - THE SKILLED ARTISANS AND INDUSTRIAL STRIFE 119
  • VII - LABOR STRIFE AMONG THE UNSKILLED WAGE EARNERS 145
  • VIII - LABOR AND POLITICS DURING THE JACKSON ERA 159
  • IX - THE WAGE EARNERS AND SOCIAL REFORM 209
  • Appendix A 217
  • Bibliography 235
  • Index 247
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