The Industrial Worker, 1840-1860: The Reaction of American Industrial Society to the Advance of the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Worker, 1840-1860: The Reaction of American Industrial Society to the Advance of the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Worker, 1840-1860: The Reaction of American Industrial Society to the Advance of the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Worker, 1840-1860: The Reaction of American Industrial Society to the Advance of the Industrial Revolution

Excerpt

The period 1840 to 1860 in American history has been regarded almost exclusively from the standpoint of the slavery issue; so exclusively, in fact, as to obscure social and industrial upheavals remarkable alike for their vitality and resource. There is no period in American history of greater individuality than the forties, and no more striking contrast than that between the decade preceding and the decade following the gold discoveries of 1849.

The impetus that carried America into the Civil War did not originate solely in the slavery agitation nor in territorial and economic antagonisms related thereto. Some part of it was a sublimation of other purposes that failed of achievement in the social ferment of the forties. It was inevitable that some one of the many 'causes' that agitated the minds of that generation should sooner or later take precedence and succeed to the motive power generated in the situation as a whole. It is unfortunate, however, that this sublimation tends to obscure those other vital issues that failed to emerge. The anti-slavery movement survived, not because it represented a more valid issue than others it enveloped, but because it of necessity involved territorial antagonisms. There was no Mason and Dixon line in industrial relations.

The aim of this study is to portray the social and economic conditions in which the revolts of the forties took their rise; to interpret the purposes of those involved, their reactions to the new industrialism; to trace the movements and experiments, working-class and reform, that emerged, and their transformation as the period advanced.

A community at any given time is a complex of group personalities, each striving to gain or maintain its place in the sun. Such a complex ordinarily involves a dominant . . .

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