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Lowell: A Place Of Opportunity Or Exploitation?

938 words - 4 pages

The time of the Industrial Revolution was one of immense change for both men and women. The new advancements of British machinery that sparked the Industrial Revolution transformed the economy and way of life in the United States, specifically New England and neighboring states. The recent developments lead to children and women, most of whom were immigrants, to work in factories to produce textiles and ready-made clothing. The factory owners of Lowell exploited the girls’ safety and time, yet the occupation provides opportunities that were not even imaginable before.
The owners of the factories in New England, like in Lowell, Massachusetts, oppressed young girls by being careless with ...view middle of the document...

Paul writes, “I have little time to devote to writing that I cannot write...” (Doc F). The girls were disillusioned when they applied to work for the Lowell mills when they heard that they can “...spend half their time reading” and the girls voiced their distress in the article “‘Slaver’ Wagons” written in 1846 for the newspaper, Voice of Industry (Doc C). A similar newspaper, the Lowell Offerings, features “The Ten-Hour Movement” that describes the mealtime as “very short” and brings up a very good point in favor of the “dinner hour” by saying that since it apparent in competing manufacturing places, there is not substantial reason against it (Doc E). It is obvious that the hours working at the mills are quite extensive, averaging about eleven hours per day, yet it seems logical that if the employers want efficient workers, they would need to allow more time to rest (Doc B). In spite of the fact that the Lowell girls worked during a time when being exhausted, ignored, and overburdened, it was not an era of total cruelty.
The Industrial Revolution did not only cause harm to young women, it helped a transformation in the role of women in society to advance. The feminist movement did not start because women began to work in factories; even before 1800, many women were shopkeepers, innkeepers and were skilled in other trades. At this time, there were few ways to communicate and the means that were possible were difficult; therefore, working-class women could not discuss their mutual feelings of defiance. Being that women began to work in those mills, the idea of a working woman was more plausible: “To be able to earn one’s own living by laboring with the hands, should be reckoned among female accomplishments...” (Doc D). Women were beginning to escape their “cult of true womanhood,” which made women be bound by...

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