Workers and Wage Slaves

By: Synamyn and Sarah


This section talked about the struggles of working in factories during the Industrial Revolution. The workers had to work long hours, with low pay and poor food. Children were forced to work in Factories with poor conditions. Many strikes took place against the government and employers because the workers didn't want to work 10 hour days and they wanted their wages to be higher. The Court Case of Commonwealth v. Hunt said that these strikes of labor unions were not illegal and it was a significant step in getting workers more rights in the Industrial System.

Samuel Slater

Samuel Slater was a big part of the Industrial Revolution. He invented the first water-powered cotton spinning mill. He used all of the laborers he could get, many of them were children. He made factory and mill work so simple that children from ages four to 10 were able to do it. He made a town around his mill because of all of the families he had working for him. He provided housing for his workers and a Sunday School where the children could be taught by college students. Even though he put kids to work, he didn’t usually give physical punishment like many other employers would.

This picture is a time table for the workers that worked in the famous Lowell Mills during the 1850s. It shows the long, absurd hours people had to work. They hardly ever got time off, not even the weekends. The time table shows how long people had to work, but doesn't show off the unsanitary buildings, poorly fed workers, and how hard they were working for hardly any pay.

Primary Source



Turnout in Lowell

We learn that extraordinary excitement was occasioned at Lowell, last week, by an announcement that the wages paid in some of the departments would be reduced 15 percent on the 1st of March. The reduction principally affected the female operatives, and they held several meetings, or caucuses, at which a young woman presided, who took an active part in persuading her associates to give notice that they should quit the mills, and to induce them to 'make a run' on the Lowell Bank and the Savings Bank, which they did. On Friday morning, the young woman referred to was dismissed, by the Agent...and on leaving the office...waved her calash in the air, as a signal to the others, who were watching from the windows, when they immediately 'struck' and assembled about her, in despite of the overseers.

"The number soon increased to nearly 800. A procession was formed, and they marched about the town, to the amusement of a mob of idlers and boys, and we are sorry to add, not altogether to the credit of Yankee girls....We are told that one of the leaders mounted a stump and made a flaming Mary Wollstonecraft speech on the rights of women and the iniquities of the 'monied aristocracy,' which produced a powerful effect on her auditors, and they determined to 'have their way if they died for it.'

Explanation for Primary Source

This shows the distress over Lowell Mills and and that they truly did protest against it. It also showed the power and influence of the issue, showing the courage and determination of the protestors. We chose this primary source because we thought it thoroughly represents the impact of harsh treatment in the factories. It also explains more in depth the protests and how they protested.

1. Which of the following were not conditions of the factories?

A. Long hours

B. Poorly ventilated buildings

C. Skimpy meals

D. Forced to work for free

E. Children working in Factories

2. All of the following were the goals for the laboring man except-

A. Ten Hour day

B. Public education

C. Tolerable working conditions

D. Provide them with clothes

E. Stop imprisoning people for debt.


"Samuel Slater." Samuel Slater. Wikipedia. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. <>.

"Samuel Slater." Who Made America? PBS. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. <>.

Kennedy, David M., Lizabeth Cohen, and Thomas A. Bailey. The American Pageant . Thirteenth . Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company , 2006. Print.

"Turnout in Lowell." Boston Transcript [Boston, MA] 1834: Print.

Time Table of the Lowell Mills. 1853. MR Zine. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. <>.

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