Thursday, November 4, 2010

"The Spirit of Discontent"

The Lowell Offering was a magazine established by working women in textile mills in Lowell, Massachusetts during the Industrial Revolution. This piece defends the way of life of factory workers and in several ways also defends the growing industrialization of Northern society.

Ellen Collins are her co-worker/friends are having a debate over factory life. Ellen argues that the environment and hours of the factory are unjust. She states "I am going home, where I shall not be obliged to rise so early in the morning, nor be dragged about by the ringing of a bell, nor confined in a close noisy room from morning till night. I will not stay here; I am determined to go home in a fortnight. . . .” . Another argument she brings up "“As to the morality of the place,” returned Ellen, “I have no fault to find. I object to the constant hurry of every thing. We cannot have time to eat, drink, or sleep; we have only thirty minutes, or at most three quarters of an hour, allowed us to go from our work, partake of our food, and return to the noisy clatter of machinery. Up before day, at the clang of the bell—and out of the mill by the clang of the bell—into the mill, and at work, in obedience to that ding-dung of a bell—just as though we were so many living machines. I will give my notice tomorrow: go, I will—I won’t stay here and be a white slave.” Therefore, Collins is discontent with the factory life.

On the contrary, her friends agrees with the factory life. she states "We are very busily engaged during the day; but then we have the evening to ourselves, with no one to dictate to or control us. I have frequently heard you say, that you would not be confined to household duties, and that you disliked the millinery business altogether, because you could not have your evenings, for leisure. You know that in Lowell we have schools, lectures, and meetings of every description, for moral and intellectual improvement.”

Whitman's Ode to the Working Class

"(Because you are greasy or pimpled, or were once drunk, or a thief, Or that you are diseas'd, or rheumatic, or a prostitute, Or from frivolity or impotence, or that you are no scholar and never saw your name in print, Do you give in that you are any less immortal?)"

While not done so intentionally, the piece "A Song for Occupations" by Walt Whitman can be seen in some respects as a counter-point to the cynicism and disdain for the Industrial Revolution, as felt by those like William Blake. Blake condemned the changes in society, whereas, Whitman embraced them to an extent, in his glorification of the role of the working man in this new world. Whitman was renown for the radical nature of his writings, in the subject matter involved and his view of the world. The poem was addressed to the laborers in the various fields of physical labor that had just been created, and stressed the importance of these people to the extent that he claims they are in fact just as important as the many elites of America, including the President himself. This also shows why Whitman is a Romantic writer, in his disregard for the conventions of Aristocracy and by extension his regard for the class systems.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Factory Girls Reverie (1845)

This Letter was included in a magazine called The Lowell Offering, written by working women. In it Elizabeth E. Turner discusses her outlook on factory life. She says that she doesnt like the term "factory girl" because it is so degrading, and she doesnt feel as if her life should be looked down upon. She has lost her family to death and says that she has no home and now the factory serves that purpose for her. Turner sympathizes with other women in her situation who are unhappy with their lives but she chooses not to be gloomy. Although she does miss her family and childhood dearly, as oppose to complaining or feeling sorry for herself, she does her best to make a living and be independent. She continues to improve herself by educating herself by reading books and staying positive.

Factory Life 1845

Women were forced to live a very strict and harsh life while they were working in a factory. An excerpt from "Factory Tracts" describes working conditions for the operatives and urged everyone to help change them. The excerpt says the work day begins before the sun rises, even in winter. The average work day was 12 hours and the wages they were paid were horrible. The were only given one lunch break which was half hour, and when they finally got off work they had to live in a boarding house.

In our article called "Factory life", a woman called Julianna wrote a letter addressing the harsh conditions that she was forced to live through. The Lowell Offering, which was an owner influenced paper, refused to publish her letter because factory owners felt the letter was a threat. Instead the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association printed it as a pamphlet instead.

Marx of America

Orestes Brownson was a man who always stated his opinion in a radical and liberal way. To be specific he had a lot to say during the time of the Industrial Revolution in America. He complained that the rich becomes richer at little expense while the working class, the proletariat, is being screwed over. He also adds that the slaves, who do not have to work for wages, has it easier than the laboring class because the slaveholders puts more money into dressing, feeding, and keeping the slave than into the people that work for him. They are just left with daily exhaustion, bad working conditions and a couple of cents to last an hour. He can be compared to Karl Marx because they both address the same issues that wages has brought to the working class.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Song of Occupations, 1855

Walt Whitman's "Song of Occupations" from the first edition of Leaves of Grass, 1855.

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Gold Watches"

1. "A gentleman may receive a thousand dollars per annum, and have half a dozen daughters, who all think they should dress in a style superior to that of the factory girl, who receives one or two hundred dollars per year."

From the perspective of the factory, women factory workers were ideal because they received lower wages than male laborers.

2. "We are fatherless and motherless: we are alone and surrounded by temptation. Let us caution each other; let us watch over and endeavor to improve each other; and both at our boarding-houses and in the mill, let us strive to promote each other's comfort and happiness."

The quote implies that the factory girls probably weren't married until after they were finished working in factories. They also were responsible of earning their own income and gained independence from their parents.

3. "I pity the girl who cannot take pleasure in wearing the new and beautiful bonnet which her father has presented her, because for sooth, she sees that some factory girl has, with her hard-won earnings, procured one just like it."

Since the lower-class women had the freedom of having their own money they were able to spend it on anything they wanted.

"A New Society"

Tabitha "A New Society" (1841) is a dream vision about all the equal rights and freedom, such as wages for laborers, equal pay, equality between men and women, eight- hour workday, equal educational opportunities, etc.

"2. Resolved, That no member of this society shall exact more than eight hours of labour, out of every twenty-four, of any person in his or her employment."

"4. Resolved, That the wages of females shall be equal to the wages of males, that they may be enabled to maintain proper independence of character, and virtuous deportment."

"…I ran up stairs to ascertain if any of our girls would become subscribers; but before reaching the chambers, I stumbled, and awoke."