"The cotton factories alone employ six thousand persons in Lowell. Of this number nearly five thousand are young women from seventeen to twenty-four years of age, the daughters of farmers from the different New England States, particularly Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont; they are here far from their families and on their own. Seeing them pass through the streets, morning and evening and a mealtimes, neatly dressed, finding their scarves, and shawls, and green silk hoods which they wear as a shelter from the sun and dust (for Lowell is not yet paved) hanging in the factories between vases of flowers and shrubs which they cultivate, I said to myself, this, then, in not Manchester."
"In France, it would be difficult to conceive of a state of things in which young girls, generally pretty, should be separated from families, fifty or one hundred miles from home, in a town in which their parents could have no one to advise and watch over them....All this presupposes an extreme reserve of manners, a vigilant, inexorable, and rigid public opinion"
The Ludlow workers were required to be virtuous, moral, and temperate (besides working their fingers to the bone). They had to attend church. They were forbidden gaming, drinking, and pleasures of the flesh. They were boarded in company housing (for a fee) and were required to clean and keep the company boarding houses in first rate shape. While in the employ of a factory the laborers were expected to "devote themselves assiduously to their duty during working hours" and after working hours they were in a controlled environment designed to keep them fit for work and free from the troubles can interrupt their abilities to do their work.
Chevalier was astounded to learn that the factory laborers were making an incredible five or six dollars a week. He reconciles this with a belief that the women are accumulating dowries and leave once they have saved a small fortune of something like $300. However, there also were married women, spinsters, and widows in the workforce and it might have surprised Chevalier that he assumptive leap was just that. Much of the earnings of the young women supported the family farms from whence they came.
With the completion of this little snippet from Chevalier's work we will leave him for a while. Perhaps some of the readers will seek out this book and join Michael as he compares Virginians to New Englanders and rates social improvements in various regions of the nation. It is fascinating to see ourselves through the eyes of others. Don't you agree?