Commonwealth of Toil: Chapters in the History of by Tom Juravich, William F. Hartford, James R. Green

By Tom Juravich, William F. Hartford, James R. Green

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For many members, participation was an expression of deeply held religious belief. The community itself, however, was nonsectarian. The staunch moral convictions of its members played a part in the community's making poor business decisions that led to mounting debt and eventual dissolution. The treasurer Samuel Hill abided through the years of experimentation, during which the community enrolled a total of some 240 members. transformation of the community into a factory village. Naming the settlement Florence, after Italy's center of silk manufacturing, Hill and others who remained continued to seek an ideal of social harmony in neighborhood life.

Page xi INTRODUCTION Massachusetts has an extraordinary history of work and labor. It was in mill towns such as Lowell, Lynn, and Lawrence that the modern factory system began. And these communities, as well as many other towns and cities across the Commonwealth, were sites of struggles that were central in the development of the American labor movement. Many important labor organizations, including the Knights of St. Crispin, the Women's Trade Union League, and Nine to Five, got their start in Massachusetts.

This responsibility extended to masters who took on apprentices, as well as parents who supervised their children's labor on regional farms. By the 1830s, however, most masters had long ceased paying much attention to such duties. Equally troubling was the large number of children in the early industrial work force. These were mostly children in their teen years, but also included some children as young as eight or nine years old. Indeed, the latter problem had become so serious that in 1832 the New England Association of Farmers, Mechanics, and Other Working Men appointed a committee to investigate the matter.

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