Comparison of Slavery to Wage Slavery

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					Comparison of Slavery to
  “Wage slavery”
   A Tale of Two Emelines
Samuel Slater, an English
“mechanic” did just what
the English feared. He
worked in a factory in
England, memorized the
plans and snuck out of the
country with them in his

Slater brought the plans
to build an Arkwright
cotton spinning machine
in 1789 to the United
In Rhode Island, Slater met
 and became partners with     Old Slater Mill
 Moses Brown. Slater had
 the plans, Brown had the
Samuel Slater's first
employees were all
children from seven to
twelve years of age. By
1830, 55% of the mill
workers in Rhode Island
were children.
Many of these children
worked long hours in
unhealthy factories for
wages less than $1 per
Girl in mill
The hours were long, the work was hard and
the pay was minimal, but some families really
needed the extra that their “spare daughters”
could bring in.
Time Table of the
  Lowell Mills
  Valley Textile
"Song of the Spinners“ from the Lowell
 Offering, 1841 (Merrimack Valley Textile
Spinning room in mill
Farm girls and
young women from
throughout New
England were
recruited to work in
the textile factories
in Lowell,
Although the women
were tightly controlled
both in the factories and
at home in company-
supervised boarding
houses, many managed
to join organized
demonstrations against
their working
Motivated by bonus premiums,
overseers began to speed up the
machines to increase production while
holding down wages.
Children lost fingers
and limbs in the
machinery, a
woman could be
scalped if her hair
were caught,…
an errant shuttle might
fly off the loom to be
embedded six inches
into the factory’s brick
The first boardinghouses were
constructed of wood. In the mid 1830’s,
brick structures were built within
walking distance of the mills.
The boardinghouse-
keeper, usually a
widow, was responsible
for the moral and
physical well being of
her girls. Unmarried
women were required
by the mills to live
under the
boardinghouse system.
The girls were charged
$1.25 a week to live
there. The money was
taken directly out of
their paycheck.
Twenty-five to thirty girls
lived in each house and each
room had two to three beds
each bed shared by two or
three girls.
The girls were given three
meals a day. There was a
strict set of rules
incorporated by the Mills
that regulated visitors,
candles, and curfews.
Church attendance was
Boardinghouses were
poorly ventilated,
overcrowded, over-run
with rats and roaches,
and lacked any privacy.
When devastating economic depressions
throughout the 1840s and 1850s shut down
production for long periods of time, New
England girls began to go home, never to return
to the mills.
   Poem that Concluded Lowell Women
 Workers' 1834 Petition to the Manufacturers
Let oppression shrug her
And a haughty tyrant frown,
And little upstart Ignorance,
In mockery look down.
Yet I value not the feeble threats
Of Tories in disguise,
While the flag of Independence
O'er our noble nation flies.
  1836 Song Lyrics Sung by Protesting
          Workers at Lowell
Oh! isn't it a pity, such a pretty girl as I
Should be sent to the factory to pine
away and die?
Oh! I cannot be a slave, I will not be a
For I'm so fond of liberty,
That I cannot be a slave.
A slave??? Did she say a
How would real slaves
feel about the
differences and
similarities between the
lives of mill girls and
poor working people of
the north and their own
Lets look at the lives of
slaves on southern
plantations as compared
to the lives of “wage
For the vast majority
of slaves, slavery
meant back breaking
field work, planting,
cultivating, and
harvesting cotton,
hemp, rice, tobacco,
or sugar cane.
On a typical plantation, slaves worked ten or more
hours a day, "from day clean to first dark," six days a
week, with only the Sabbath off.
At planting or
harvesting time, planters
required slaves to stay
in the fields 15 or 16
hours a day.
When they were not
raising a cash crop,
slaves grew other crops,
such as corn or potatoes;
cared for livestock; and
cleared fields, cut wood,
repaired buildings and
On cotton, sugar, and
tobacco plantations,
slaves worked together
in gangs under the
supervision of a
supervisor or a driver.
On many rice and hemp plantations and the
coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia,
slave-owners adopted the task system.
Slaves had specific daily work assignments, and
after they completed their tasks, their time was
their own.
Slave children began
performing routine
labor tasks around 10
years of age. Slave
women worked in fields
doing the same tasks as
slave men, with little or
no difference shown for
gender .
Then there is the issue
of punishment for not
working quickly enough
or for disobeying a
masters’ orders, ….
or trying to run away.
Unlike the boarding houses of the mill girls,
slave cabins were barely shelter at all.
 Wasn’t there something at the
 beginning about two
 What happened to them?
 Well, one was a mill girl …
Emeline Gurney
 The other was a slave given as
 a baptismal gift from Andrew
 Jackson to his niece…..
Emeline Miller

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