Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Great Britain & U.S. Comparison

During the industrial revolutions in Britain and in the Unites States, the conditions were very different for workers and for industrialists. Industrialists (factory owners and upper level employees) were more likely to succeed in Britain. One factor that made industrialists more successful was the plentiful supply of cheap labor. The industrial revolution forced many women who were spinning wool at home to work in the factories. The factories were making textile goods for cheaper, so women were no longer able to sell their goods. This meant that women and many children had to work in the mills to make money. There were no other alternatives for income, so the factories were able to pay them very little money. In Britain, there was not enough land available that the common people could farm their own land and support themselves, so they had no option but to work. In Britain, the advanced technologies of textile production allowed the factory owners to make a significant amount of money. They then used part of this money to help "persuade" government officials to not make labor laws. This meant that the industrialists were insuring their own success. Even though the workers were living and working in derelict conditions, there were no laws that required these conditions to change, and the factory owners did not care. 
Young children were forced to work in the dangerous mills
For the workers, their experience was not ideal no matter where they were working, but in America, the conditions were better. In America, specifically Lowell, the mills and the city surrounding them were considerably cleaner and more organized than the factories in Britain. This is not because the industrialists were better people, it is because they had to be in order to attract workers. In America, the availability of very cheap labor was not as plentiful. People had more alternatives to factory work; there was so much available land out west, that if people wanted to claim their own land, they could. This meant that the people were not as desperate for work as they were in Britain, so the conditions and the pay had to be more appealing. The workers in Lowell were primarily young women. They were the cheapest to hire, and the easiest to control. However, often the factories had to convince the father of the women to let them go to the mills, this meant that the factories would have to at least seem attractive. The working conditions in Lowell were less extreme than in Britain. The work day was still painfully long, but there was some time given for social activities. Most of all the conditions were clean and organized, the women were given housing and food which is a vast improvement over the filthy streets of Manchester.

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