Industrial Revolution replaced the older notion of the “Artisan Republic” in the
United States. Large factories with tedious and impassionate work replaced
small workshops of learning laborers practicing their crafts. In the United
States, hierarchy in the factories replaced the industrial democracy of
artisans (Lecture, November 9, 2017). American workers tried resisting the
changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution in a myriad of ways.
American workers sought to maintain these older traditions of work by utilizing
ideals and values of artisan republicanism, such as egalitarian ideology and
traditions of American independence, while also using working class resistance,
such as unionization, disseminating information, and holding strikes. American
workers were successful in creating positive changes in the new factory system
but ultimately failed to regain control over labor.

            The shift from the Artisan Republic
to the Industrial Revolution changed the dynamics of labor in the United
States. Artisans and craftsmen ran their shops in their homes with the help of
live-in apprentices (Clark et al, p. 338). The master craftsman would teach the
apprentices in hopes of understanding the craft at a high level. There was no
clear division between workers and the boss as much of the work was done
between family and friends (Lecture, November 6, 2017). However, growing demand
and increased investments catalyzed the shift to larger workshops and factories
as part of the Industrial Revolution (Clark et al, p. 338). In this new
setting, the division of labor was clear in which the laborers worked in the
factories while the boss managed. Instead of fraternal unity among the workers
and the boss, the only connection between the two was the paid wage (Lecture,
November 6, 2017). Within these factories, the idea of a boss developed in
which bosses oversaw the workers, set their hours, and set their pay. Workers
of the Artisan Republic worked hands-on with the boss, set their own hours, and
were paid based on the quality of their work. This transition is conveyed in
the shoe production industry of Lynn, Massachusetts where the division of labor
increased when small shops shifted into larger industries (Clark et al, p.
345). Small houses of craftsmen producing shoes turned into large factories
with workers operating machines to make the shoes. Workers tried to maintain
the older traditions of work by protesting the bosses and the factories.

The new Industrial Revolution threatened
the American ideological value of egalitarianism. This is apparent economically
because amidst the prosperity for factory owners was the poverty and insecurity
for wageworkers (Clark et al, p. 341). People that were once artisans, working hard
to perfect their craft, became mundane workers in the factory. The Artisan
Republic is a republic that encompasses egalitarianism that includes economic
independence and controlling your own labor. American egalitarian values embody
equal opportunity for American citizens. Unfortunately, this was not the case
for Americans who were forced to work in factories. When the women lost control
of their work, they lost control of their pay. An 1830 report conveyed that
some women working in factories were earning a mere fifty-five dollars per year
and having to pay twenty-six dollars for rent alone (Clark et al, p. 341). This
does not coincide with egalitarian values because American liberty is about
equal opportunity, including equal opportunity to better wages. By the 1860s, contractors
lowered the prices paid to women for each piece of work because it became
easier to make the product with advances in technology (Clark et al, p. 651). Clearly
these new wages were not sufficient and did not abide by egalitarian values.

Americans that wanted to maintain older
traditions faced a dilemma in which they resisted change. A New York master
refused to divide the work in his shop because it would violate republican
principles such as power over their own lives: “this is a free country; we want
no one person over another which would be the case if you divided the labour”
(Clark et al, p. 345). If bosses took the opposite approach of the New York
master and took the more capitalist route, workers would often strike and
protest (Clark et al, p. 345). Strikers were sometimes successful in which
workers were able to determine their work hours. An example of an important
strike during this time was the Great Strike of 1860 where men and women
utilized the equal-rights traditions to confront wage slavery (Boris &
Lichtenstein, p. 85). Using their collective power, the strikers gained wages
that were reminiscent of the Artisan Republic instead of the factory system. Workers
resisted change when these values were threatened through the Industrial
Revolution and its factories but did not fully regain power in the workplace.

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The Great Strike of 1860 was a successful
way that Americans maintained older traditions of work. The men and women of
the shoemaking industry were finished with the oppression of the factory
system. Women of Lynn were incredibly angry about their wages and demanded more
money. Women shouted, “don’t work your machines; let em’ lie still till we get
all we ask, and then go at it…” (Boris & Lichtenstein, p. 90). These
meetings that the women had were unifications for a common goal in an effort to
gain higher pay. This is an example of a union in which the women sought
representation and pushed for their desires. They were eventually successful
and received a fairer wage. Women played an important role in strikes during
this time. Their effect on the labor movement is conveyed in the organization
of the Daughters of St. Crispin in which women collectively fought for equal
pay. Through many successful strikes, women fought “the unjust encroachments
upon our (women’s) rights” (Clark et al, p. 657). Women helped other
minorities, such as African Americans, the Chinese, and other immigrants,
protect themselves in the workplace by helping to organize them in unions. Despite
this, racism stalled the labor movement because some unions excluded
minorities. For example, many trade unions affiliated with the National Labor
Union excluded black workers from joining (Clark et al, p. 659). Unions did not
have complete control of the workforce because they refused to be inclusive
with diverse groups of people. Instead, groups such as blacks had to create
their own unions like the Colored National Labor Union (Clark et al, p. 659). The
labor force needed to be united and unbiased in order for the Artisan Republic
to return completely because all workers were equal in the past. When women
joined strikes and unions, they could successfully influence lawmakers to
improve the economic position of women and minorities (Clark et al, p. 664).
These women paved the way for future equality for women in the workplace.

The development of the shoemaking
industry of Lynn, Massachusetts is a great example of the replacement of
artisan labor by the factory system. When the shoemakers first started, it was
under artisan labor. Alphonzo, who worked as an apprentice in shoemaking house,
was able to come and go as he pleased, as his master did not control him and
his work (Boris & Lichtenstein, p. 86). 
Shoemakers would start as apprentices and work on each stage of the shoe
until it was masterful. Apprentices like Alphonzo would patiently learn each
step of the craft under the artisan labor system and have complete control of
his labor (Boris & Lichtenstein, p. 87). Kinship and fraternity were
pillars of artisans; this differs from the divisions of labor brought about by
industrial work (Lecture, November 9, 2017). When there are divisions,
self-control in the workplace is lost as well as control over the labor. This
is embodied in the shoemaking industry of Lynn, Massachusetts.

Unions were formed in an effort to
successfully resist the oppressive nature of the factory system. By 1872, there
were thirty national trade unions in the United States and countless local
unions that represented over 300,000 workers (Clark et al, p. 654). By joining
these unions, workers hoped to limit the length of the workday to eight hours.
The National Molder’s Union was successful in this as they conducted effective
strikes (Clark et al, p. 655). The Union was able to shorten the length of the
workday and even increase pay. Through determination and unity, the unions in
Illinois persuaded the state legislature to pass a law that declared an
eight-hour workday in 1967 (Clark et al, p. 655). The International
Workingmen’s Association is another example of maintaining older traditions of
work. The main goal of this union was to run the country’s industries in a
democratic way in which workers themselves would set quotas, wages, hours, and
working conditions (Clark et al, p. 658). The Workingmen’s strike to get an
eight-hour workday was partially successful in some jobs. Unions successfully helped
resist the evils of wage labor by maintaining older traditions of work like a
shorter workday, yet they could not return to full control of their own labor.

Working class resistance played a key
role in resisting the factory system and maintaining older traditions. Workers
successfully resisted changes by organizing labor unions in order to secure
better pay and working hours as well as campaigning for legal dealings that
secured rights in an unsympathetic economy (Clark et al, p. 342). For example, in
1834, working class fields such as carpenters, hatters, and weavers joined the National
Trades Union, which aided strikes over wages in New York and other parts of the
Northeast (Clark et al, p. 355). Workers in assorted categories of labor worked
collectively to gain some power that they had lost in the workplace. Technological
advances like the steam press allowed printing to be more efficient and cheaper
so that ideas can be printed and disseminated calling for changes to the nature
of work (Clark et al, p. 372). Famous publications like the New York Times published articles that criticized
the growth of wage labor (Clark et al, p. 654). By controlling and distributing
information, unions could gain more membership and use its influence to fight
and maintain older traditions of work.

Although workers maintained older
traditions of work, they were not successful in fully returning to the ways of
the Artisan Republic. Strikes and unions allowed workers to receive higher
wages and shorter workdays that were similar to the Artisan Republic. But in
the long run, these victories did not return them to the egalitarian republic
of the past. The power over one’s work shifted from the workers of the Artisan
Republic to the bosses of the industrial factories. Elites responded to poor
and middle class workers who had issues with the new industrial revolution by
stripping financial independence from the workers (Clark et al, p. 652). Their
response affected the labor movement by moving immigrants to low wage jobs and
forcing them to lose control of power in the workforce. The unionized workers
were unable to halt the progress of the wage system.

American workers maintained past traditions of work by trying to uphold
Artisan Republic values like egalitarianism and independence by utilizing
unions and strikes. Artisan republicanism encompasses self-control of labor; this
was lost in the factory system in which workers used machines to complete tasks
instead of crafting with their hands. The powerful bosses of the factories
oppressed the workers; this is incompatible with being free, an American value
(Lecture, November 9, 2017). In an effort to rid the factory system of labor in
the United States, workers went on strike and joined unions. Strikes were the
ultimate bargaining chip that successfully allowed the workers’ grievances to
be addressed (Lecture, November 9, 2017). American workers were joined in
unions and maintained some older traditions of work in the new era of work, yet
they were unable to fully regain the power they once had over their own work in
the Artisan Republic.


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