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opportunity afforded, the most flagrant crimes—inattentive of course, to their families, and regardless of the sabbath, profane, dishonest, shameless,-in short, equally contemptible and wretched. Such were described to be the vast masses of human beings, constituting the manufacturing classes, that crowd the streets and shops of Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, and some thirty or forty other towns in England. In regard to the neglect of education among them, which lies at the foundation of their depraved habits, we have received impressions from ocular proof, that will not easily be effaced from our minds. In some specimens of orthography and composition, in the shape of letters or invoices, which have come into our hands, from those more favored individuals among them, who happened to understand, or who supposed they understood, something of these accomplishments, we have seen enough to set all the rules of gravity at defiance, as well as to convince us how very humble a share of common learning it was their privilege to possess. This is said of the better sort. It surely wanted nothing to make the picture completely disgusting, when we learned the coarseness and vulgarity of the female character, in the connection here contemplated, as exhibited by the sex in their pugilistic combats with each other in the public streets.
But happily for our country, the introduction of manufactures among us, has thus far led to no enormities of this kind. Even the slighter and more common evils incident to the system, (for it cannot be doubted that there are evils incident to it,) have not been felt in any degree sufficient to justify alarm, if indeed to attract attention. No facts have as yet occurred to confirm the fears which were originally entertained in regard to the moral influence of manufactures among us. On the contrary, the results of experience have generally served to allay those fears—in some cases entirely to remove them. It was not indeed strictly correct to infer, that because the manufacturing population of the old world was vicious and degraded, such would of course be the case in the United States. The poverty found in the workshops of Britain, the want of education, the vulgar manners, and corrupt morals, are in a great measure, owing to circumstances which have no necessary connection with the peculiar employment of the laborers. They arise in part from a dense population, the distinctions of rank, oppressive taxes, the high rates of provisions, and the general neglect which all the lower classes have experienced, in respect to their moral and spiritual welfare. The evils to which the manufacturers as a class are exposed, are common to all the laboring classes. It is believed that the character of apprentices and journeymen of the master manufacturers, as to morals and intelligence,
bad as it is, does not differ essentially from that of the vast number who are engaged in mines, or labor on farms, canals, and roads. So that were these persons employed in agriculture or other pursuits, they would still feel all the evils of poverty, and of moral and intellectual debasement, which they now do, and perhaps, in a much greater degree.* They would still be a portion of those two or three millions of miserable beings, who constitute the lower classes, and who remain to be reclaimed, if reclaimed at all, by the power of the gospel-a people whom a recent English writer has characterized, as “ more profligate and more perverted than Hindoos.” Let any country possess a large surplus population, and be situated as England is, in other respects, and it will be found, whether the poor labor in the shops of the manufacturer, or on the farm, and public works, that the causes of crime and suffering will not be few. Our own country, if so situated, would not be an exception, even were manufactures and the mechanic arts unknown to it.
The causes, then, which make manufacturing in any instance an evil, do not exist here as they do abroad, and there is every reason to hope that they may never exist here to so great an extent. Though we are liable in time to have a dense population, and already have it in a comparative sense, in some of the States, this only shows the necessity of providing, by a variety of mechanic aris, for the employment of all the people. We need not be afflicted, and cannot, probably, except from a change of our political institutions, with inequality of rank, oppressive taxes, dearness of provisions, or a general neglect of the education and morals of the people. The very structure of our government, and all our social institutions, now in full and successful operation, bear directly against the production of such a result; and it is only through a violent revolution, or monstrous perversion, that we could ever be thrown into the condition of European states. With institutions and circumstances like our own, no occupation of the citizens, provided it is a lawful one, can be conceived to be dangerous, either to public or private happiness. To infer therefore, as many christians and patriots did, from the state of things in England in regard to manufacturers, that we should find a miserable and degraded population in the same class here, was taking quite too much for granted. Like causes indeed produce like effects—but the causes in the present instance were not like. The situation of Great Britain and America was totally dissimilar. There might, therefore, be much danger in the one case, and very little in the other.
* One of the most distinguished philanthropists of England stated to the editor of this work, that he had instituted an extensive inquiry into the comparative amount of crime, and especially of impurily, in the manufacturing and the agricultural districts of England, and had found, to his surprize, that the former were decidedly more moral than the latter,
In regard to this whole subject, it is undoubtedly a principle, which is applicable to human nature everywhere, that great masses of men are operated upon more easily for good or for evil, than a scattered population. So far as the pursuit of mechanic art, in the form we are considering, tends to bring people together in large bodies, so far it involves the application of ihis principle : and as our country, or any portion of it, passes from a sparse to a dense population, we must be prepared to meet the results. It will be the part of wisdom to use every precaution, to obviate any evils which might arise from such a state of things; and to employ every effort to reap from it, all the advantages of which also it may be made productive. Considered, however, even in this view, we cannot argue with entire confidence, from the effect of manufactures in England, to their effect in the United States. They cannot do so much, either for or against us, as they might do in so confined a spot as the British Isles. In a country of such vast extent as ours, their operation must be feebler, at least for a long period to come; though still it may be very powerful. But we have the greatest reason for encouragement, from the character of our population previous to the introduction of manufactures among us. In England, manufactures came into existence among a people, who were previously ignorant, vicious, and debased, employed by master workmeo, who, in most cases, cared for notbing but gain. They did not give the lower classes this character; they found them in possession of it—as they certainly must, in every country, where the common people are uneducated and poor. In our country, manufactures have commenced, under far different auspices. They found the population, which would be apt to engage in the pursuit, generally educated, and sober and correct in their moral habits. Thus far, the prosecution of the system, has had no tendency, so far as we can learn, to make them otherwise. On the other hand, we think there are some unequivocal indications, that it is working a positively happy effect. The people who are engaged in these pursuits, are in the midst of us they are generally our own citizens, though some are foreigners. We know them well, their characters, their habits, the circumstances under which they prosecute their employments, and the influences by which they are liable to be affected. No difficulty therefore can exist, in arriving at the truth in this matter; nor is it possible that the community can be deceived, in regard to the general moral effects of the system. Reasoning then from our situation as a
people, and in view of facts as they have been hitherto developed, it will not be amiss to point out, what we conceive to be the influence of manufactures on the social, the intellectual, and the moral and religious character of the people—what that influence is, and what it is likely to be, prosecuted as the object has been bitherto.
In making this estimate, we are aware that the influence of manufactures is by no means the same in every place. The plan, according to which our large establishments are managed, varies in some important particulars, in different parts of our country. Some establishments diverge more widely from the English plan than others; and the more widely they thus diverge, the more happy has been the result—the more do they keep clear of the evils experienced abroad, and the more do they effect for the moral welfare of their inmates. The leading characteristic of the English system, and the source of nearly all its evils, is this, that the operatives are employed as families, that the the whole household are required to enter into the service of the employer-father, mother, sons, and daughters, down to children five or six years of age. On no other condition, we are informed, as a general fact, will the proprietor of any great establishment abroad, provide his workmen with dwellings, or furnish them with employment. He must command the services of all, who can promote his interests. In those cases where work is put out among families to be performed at their own houses, the same principle is adopted as far as possible ; and the general result is, that the whole population grow up manufacturers, and nothing but manufacturers, from the earliest years of childhood. It is unnecessary to dwell on the consequences of such a state of society ; our only object in describing it is to show, that the manufacturing system as it exists in England, is radically different from ours. The first cotton factory established in this country, that at Pawtucket, R. I. being founded by a foreigner, was commenced, it is true, upon the English plan; and the evils of such a commencement have not ceased even to the present hour, to be felt in that flourishing village, though the system, we believe, has been greatly changed. Children are indeed employed to a considerable extent in the establishments of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and the southern part Oi Massachusetts; but whole families are rarely seen working together, especially the mothers of young children. There is a growing conviction we are informed, among our enlightened manufacturers, that their own permanent interests, as well as the public good, are best consilied by the employment of very few persons in their factories, under the age of ten years. This single fact, wherever it exists, constitutes a radical distinction between our system and that of the English.
The manufacturing establishments of this country, may be divided into two classes. Que of these consists of large companies of monied men, who are satisfied with moderate profits, especially at the commencement of the undertaking; who have almost unlimited resources at command for the extension of their business; and who are laying the foundation of their establishments on a broad scale, with a reference, rather to their permanent prosperity, than to immediate gain. Lowell is an example of this kind, presenting a vast combination of mechanical power, arranged in one harmonious system, and capable of almost indefinite extension, to which the whole of Europe cannot afford a parallel. The proprietors of Lowell, have uniformly acted on the principle, that private interest is best promoted in the long run, by general intelligence and public virtue. They have therefore made it a general rule, that children under twelve years of age, shall not be employed in their factories. They have established very strict regulations for the government of the boarding houses on the several “corporations ;" designed to guard the morals of the youth there assembled, to prevent those of different sexes from boarding at the same place, and to secure them against the danger of being thrown into improper families, or connections. It was originally one part of the system at Lowell, that every one einployed in the factories, should pay for a seat in some cburch; nor was the principle abandoned, except at the instance of the best friends of religion in the place, who were satisfied that any appearance of compulsion on such a subject, would prove on the whole, injurious to the cause of vital religion. A large part of the manual labor at Lowell, is performed by females, between the ages of fifteen and thirty, who have entered into the employment, without the slightest thought of continuing in it for life, like the English operatives; and so far are they from being, (as abroad,) a stationary population, that very few of them remain there, unless settled for life in a married state, for a longer period than three or four years. These young women, we are assured, by those who have the fullest means of knowing, have in almost every instance received a good common education before leaving home, and in very many cases, have enjoyed those superior advantages for intellectual improvement, which are furnished by the best academies in the interior of our country. In general, they are daughters of respectable farmers, though in many instances, they belong to families of a higher rank, and have been reduced by the death of their parents, or some untoward circumstance, to rely on their own exertions for support. We are assured by com
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