The Voice of Industry (Vol. 1 No. 18 - 25 September 1845)

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The 25 September 1845 issue of the Voice of Industry (Vol. 1 No. 18).

Submitted by adri on March 16, 2024

Factory Boarding Houses—Exciting Meeting at the City Hall to Consider the Present Depressed Condition of the Boarding-House Keepers of Lowell.

In accordance with previous announcement by hand-bills posted in various parts of the city, a respectable number of the keepers of the corporation boarding houses in Lowell met at the City Hall on Friday last to take into consideration their lamentable and grievous condition, in consequence of the low price of operatives' board and the enhanced prices of provisions. From what we have received upon the subject, we learn the occasion was one of interest and enthusiasm, and called forth many noble and spirited sentiments from this class of wronged, corporation-oppressed and capital-bound citizens.

We cannot let this opportunity pass without expressing our entire approbation of the movement. The poor men and widow women who keep the factory boarding houses have long suffered and been shamefully deceived by fair promises and heartless predictions of "better times" to come. In 1840, when manufacturing was less prosperous than at the present time, the corporations reduced the operatives' board 12.5 cts. per week, with the promise that it should be added as soon as they obtained a tariff. But now they have got the tariff, and are declaring their thirty and forty per cent dividends, plundered from the poor widow women, boarding-house keepers and hard-working operatives. They have neglected their promises and even amid their avaricious gluttony, they together with a host of spaniels, brass speaking-trumpets and a few professed "men of God," are striving to convince the world, especially such a portion of "those fresh spirits gathered down from the Granite Hills and the green peaceful valleys by their own will," as is necessary to keep the "glittering temples of happy industry" in successful operation, and such a number of poor defenseless widow women as will be required to keep the boarding houses, that they have found a paradise—a heaven on earth, located between the "Pawtucket Falls" and the junction of the Concord River—the "New Jerusalem," with streets paved with gold, filled with angels, saints and spiritual watchmen or sanctified apostles.

The favorite policy of manufacturers ever has been to procure widow women with families and defenseless females, as keepers of corporation boarding houses, whose circumstances would require them to submit to any burdens they saw fit to impose and obey any mandates they might issue, without a murmur or a struggle. But the time has come—the oppression is too grievous to be longer borne in silence and apparent content. The boarding-house keepers of Lowell have commenced the good fight with heartless capital and misused power—a fight for the rights which God has given them, viz.: the right to such a share of the products of their labor, as will make them comfortable and happy and protect them and their children from anxious want, and their goods from the gambling auctioneer's hammer. Let this good work go on throughout every manufacturing town in New England; let the boarding-house keepers combine with the operatives against the gradual system of manufacturing oppression and unceasingly advocate the reduction of the hours of labor, so that the night may bring rest from their daily labors, and quiet sleep to their eyelids, instead as now, new toil and renewed hardship. The God of humanity gave the night for rest, but the customs of men and the rules and laws of corporations abrogate this wise design by compelling the operatives to labor such a number of hours that the boarding houses must consequently be confused and unsettled to nearly midnight, and at a very early hour in the morning; hence the office of keeping a factory boarding house is one of continued servitude and drudgery, and for which, some poor women by rigid economy get a bare subsistence, while others less fortunate toil on a few years, become involved and their household furniture is sacrificed upon the auction stand to secure debts, which were contracted in good faith.

Americans! sons of free New England! citizens of Lowell! will you turn a deaf ear to the voices that are raised in your very midst, for aid and sympathy? Have you any humanity; any manhood?—aye Christianity?—then do not set supinely down while widows are robbed and the fatherless and dependent, neglected and trampled, because the Hydra destroyer is clothed in a silken garb or pated on the main by the professed ambassadors of him, who has commended us to "love our neighbors as ourselves," and not devour widows' houses, or distress the poor and fatherless.

We have received the following report of the Saturday's meeting from the pen of a female friend who was present. Another meeting is to be held this day (Thursday), the transactions of which we shall give our readers as soon as possible.

The Workingmen's Convention at N. York.1

The time is at hand—workingmen and working women! The time when in one mighty phalanx, you are to go up to the great emporium of our nation, with hearts steeled for the combat between unholy oppression and equal rights for all—with the true spirit of philanthropy warming and expanding your hearts—with the united cry to the God of might and justice for assistance, go up—fear not—the arm of almighty "God is not shortened that it cannot save! Neither is his ear heavy that it cannot hear!" Let every soul feel as did the fathers' of the [American] Revolution, that they will undertake no work, which they do and cannot ask God to assist and bless! Let us go to that Convention feeling that on a right and faithful discharge of our duties, hangs the destiny of those thousands and hundreds of thousands in our "free country," who are now toiling and wearing out a miserable existence, in laboring from ten to eighteen hours of the twenty [four] to keep soul and body a little longer in the same latitude! Let us endeavor to devise some plan, which shall reach in its beneficent results and effects, the condition of the industrious poor in our cities. Poor females who are compelled by soulless employers to make men's shirts for eight cents a piece and everything else accordingly!

Merciful heaven has it come to this! Here in happy, proud America!—Can it be that we are destined to see the same tragedies acted on these western shores, which have cast blight and mildew over the fairest portion of the old world? Forbid it righteous father! Forbid it ye who have hearts to feel, or heads to think, or power to act. Heed not the cry "there is no remedy"—there is a remedy. Let the toiling millions arise in their might of union for power—power to bless humanity—and elect men to fill the places of honor and trust who have souls in which the pure flame of patriotism burns brightly—men who, like true patriots, will stand firm in their integrity, and act for the nation's weal, if all the hosts of darkness should combine against them! Yea, though they stand alone on the broad platform of eternal truth and equality! Men who cannot be bought and sold with fair promises , or bribed with gold.

There is a remedy, if there is any power in the nation to grant protection to her own suffering people! Do the strong cry out for protection against foreign monopolies, lo! it is immediately granted. And shall the weak be left to contend alone in their weakness against not only foreign, but home monopolies? Oh justice where hast thou fled? What! protect the strong against the weak? Republicanism, is this thy spirit and policy? Surely thy nature has changed, since our heroic fathers set thee up as the guardian and safe-guide to the growing nation's interests! No! toiling mortals this is not the birthright which the blood of our ancestors bequeathed to us! It was, that equality and justice might here be ever administered—that industry should meet with a competent reward—and not as it now does, walk the streets with haggard visage—trembling limbs, and shivering beneath tattered rags—while the drones in society are rolling in splendid equipage and luxurious laziness through the world—no! no! God forbid ! Go up, ye working men and women, and let your voices be heard in that convention —plead your own cause, in heaven's name, nerve your hearts for the combat. Truth and error must grapple, but fear not—truth is mighty, and must and will prevail! Remember the time for action is come, be united—be firm—be fearless, and in the omnipotency of truth and justice trusting, you will ere long reap the reward of all your toils—see the down-trodden elevated, the suffering poor made partakers of the liberal bounties of providence—the vicious who were driven away from virtue's flowery paths by the iron hand of want, reclaimed, and the despairing mother, no longer clasp her starving babes to her breast in frantic agony, not knowing where to procure a morsel of bread to save them from the lean jaws of death! Oh laborers I beseech you be faithful, and in God's name move forward in this noble enterprise until triumph shall crown your labors with abundant success.—Veritus.

Having received intimation from my friends...

Mr. Editor:—Having received intimation from my friends in your place that should I happen there while our pro-slavery friends from the South are visiting there, I must keep quiet on the subject of slavery, if I wish to keep in their good graces, as they do not like to hear anything against their "peculiar institutions."

Lest our pro-slavery friends should return to the South without having heard one word of anti-slavery truth, I hope they will pardon me, if through your invaluable sheet, I should offer a few ingenuous remarks on a subject which I fear has never been very fully presented to them. Were I to attempt to move the heart of the slave holder and call forth his sympathies for those he so unjustly and inhumanly tyrannizes over—would be folly—I can only utter what has already been reiterated throughout the length and breadth of the land on this and the other side of the Atlantic.

There is a depth in slavery beyond the reach of any, but those who have been made the recipients of its horrors—words have not the power to express its meaning. Were we to listen to that fugitive from the galling chains and fetters of the South, Frederic Douglass, whose eloquent appeals have caused the tear of sympathy to course down the furrowed and blooming cheek of thousands who have listened to the sad recital of his woes, we should see but the shadow, while the substance of slavery lies beyond the power of description. Were we to imagine ourselves reduced to a level with the brutes—robbed of self, and all that elevates mankind above the lower order of creation, our very soul would shrink at the idea, and life itself appear loathsome.

Consider and contrast the condition of the slave with that of your own; while you enjoy the liberty of conscience, and possess all the natural and enduring relations of human existence, the slave who is made in the image of God who "made of one blood all the nations of the earth," is denied the rights, aye the name of human beings—are bought and sold like cattle—families scattered, and hearths made desolate—infants torn from the fond embrace of a mother and sold by the pound!


While we wear the image of the God who made us, and profess to love his son, who died to save us, let us not compromise with our pro-slavery and slave-holding friends, nor sacrifice principle upon the altar of popularity, but show our love for the three millions of our brothers and sisters who are dying the living death of slavery.

Yours truly, G. H. Merriam

Note: spelling and punctuation have been slightly modified.

  • 1Article written for the Voice by the pen name Veritus.