Responses to the Industrial Revolution
• What were the responses to Industrialization?
Imagine the place – “…a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable (endless( serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever and ever, and never got uncoiled…”
Mesmerized by the ugliness of the town “…it had a black canal in it, and a river that ran purple with ill-smelling dye, and vast piles of buildings full of windows where there was a rattling and trembling all day long, and where the piston of the steam engine worked monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a stante of melancholy madness.”
-Charles Dickens, Hard Time (1854), description ...view middle of the document...
“It was only when the whole ham was spoiled that it came into the department…cut up by the two-thousand revolutions-a-minute flyers, and mixed with half a ton of other meat, no odor that was ever in a ham could make any difference. There was never the least attention paid to what was cut up for sausage; there would come all the way back from Europe old sausage that had been rejected, and that was moldy and white – it would be dosed with borax and glycerin (sic), and dumped into the hoppers, and make over again for home consumption. There would be meat that had tumbled out on the floor, in the dirt and sawdust, where the workers had tramped and spit uncounted billions of consumption terms. There would be meat stored in great piles in rooms: and the water from leaky roofs would drip over it, and thousands of rats would race about on it. It was too dark in theses storage places to see well, but a man could run his hand over these piles of meat and sweep off handfuls of the dried dung of rats. These rats were nuisances, and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them. They would die, and then rats, break, and meat would go into the hoppers together. This is no fairy story and no joke; the meat would be shoveled into cats, and the man who did the shoveling would not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one – there were things that went into the sausage in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit.”
-Upton Sinclair, The Jungle, turn-of-the-century novel exposing the meatpacking industry
Inspectors of all sorts were needed to investigate. Expose novels and articles brought abuses to public attention as did Parliamentary proceedings (The Sadler Commission folks!) interviewing factory workers regarding wages, conditions, and ill treatment. In 1833, Parliament passed Althrop’s Act banning the employment of children under nine years of age, limiting the workday to nine hours for children between the ages 9 and 13, and to twelve hours for those between ages 13 and 18, and forbidding night work for young people. In 1842, Parliament prohibited mine owners from employing women, girls, and boys under 10...