Mechanics and Manufacturers in the Early Industrial Revolution: Lynn, Massachusetts, 1780-1860

By Paul G. Faler | Go to book overview

6. The Origins of Industrial Morality

The first quarter of the nineteenth century witnesses the birth of a moral reform movement that wrought profound changes in the social life of the American people. There were attacks on intemperance, infidelity, profanity, lax sexual customs, promiscuous fashions, gambling, and a host of other practices that fall roughly under the rubric of "sin." The moral reformers also cast a critical eye on the status of women in American society, the treatment of the insane, the education of the young, and the condition of the poor. There was scarcely a social institution or aspect of personal behavior that escaped the scrutiny of the moral reformers.

Most historians trace the origins of moral reform to the religious upheavals of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Usually manifested in the form of revivalism, the rebirth of Christianity was of such immense proportions that it has been accurately termed "The Second Great Awakening." Dixon Ryan Fox viewed the upsurge as the Protestant Counter Reformation, while Merle Curti, noting related changes in many aspects of American thought, described it as The Conservative Reaction. The revivals originated in the South in the late eighteenth century and swept across most of the new nation, enlisting in the cause hundreds of passionate preachers who brought their message to tens of thousands of people. The Methodists were leaders in the movement and reaped the greatest harvest of souls. The Baptists and Presbyterians also made striking gains. The Second Great Awakening, if most successful in the South and the West, also made rapid headway in the older areas of the Northeast. What caused this profound change in the religious and moral life of the United States, this transformation from indifference or hostility to religion to passionate sectarianism?

A recent interpretation of the Second Great Awakening offers the provocative hypothesis that the movement "was an organizing process

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Mechanics and Manufacturers in the Early Industrial Revolution: Lynn, Massachusetts, 1780-1860
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Maps and Tables vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xv
  • 1. Lynn--The First Century 1
  • 2. Rise of the Shoe Industry 8
  • 3. a Community of Mechanics 28
  • 4. Rise of the Shoe Manufacturers 58
  • 5. the Shoemakers: Wages and Other Standards 77
  • 6. the Origins of Industrial Morality 100
  • 7. Lynn and the New Industrial Morality: "A Well-Regulated Republic in Miniature" 109
  • 8. Patterns of Mobility and Property Ownership 139
  • 9. the Formation of Class Consciousness: Experience and Ideology 164
  • 10. the Social Dimensions of the Class Experience 189
  • 11. the Great Shoemakers' Strike 222
  • Notes 234
  • Bibliography 256
  • Index 263
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