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____________________