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History of Lowell: The Voice of Industry

September 11, 1846

Hints to Operatives

It has been said that this is the "age of acquisitiveness"; to learn the truth of this, we have but to take a look at our own city: here we behold in these huge pile of brick and mortar, teeming with breathing humanity, the monster avarice, with jaws distended, ready to seize his poor deluded victims and sacrifice them upon the altar of mammon.

The capitalists are not the only ones who worship at this shrine, but may of those who are helping to fill their coffers, which are now full to overflowing, are zealous devotees and blindly worship the shining dust….

We frequently hear of girls who tend extra work, and, in fact, one said to use a short time since, that "she dreaded to go into the mill the next day"; upon asking her why, her reply was, "because I am to tend three looms."  But why do you take the third loom?" we asked.  Her answer was "I can make a little more."  There you have it again, dollars and cents; and yet this same girl cannot work more than half the time, but is obliged to leave the mill and go into the country to regain her health.

But this is not all that is to be considered; should you be successful in doing this extra work, and in working by the "piece," be enabled to lay up a little more lucre in store, are you sure it will be the best policy?  Your employers will, as they have ever done, take advantage of this oversight, by and by, "wages will be reduced," and you will be obliged to work harder, and perhaps take three fourth loom (as  was tried by one corporation in this city) to make the same wages that you now do with two, how long will it take, in  this way, to reduce yourselves to the same state of starvation and misery, which now stares in the face the sons and daughters of toil, the other side of the Atlantic?  Be assured that if you do not live to witness it, the time is not far distant when those who labor in the mills will (as is the case with many now) earn barely enough to purchase the necessaries of life by working hard, thirteen hours a day; recollect that those who worked here before you did less work, and were better paid for it than you are, and there are others to come after you, whom it would be well to bear in mind.  We must not live for self altogether, but have the good of mankind in view; it is this selfish feeling in all classes of the community that begets all the poverty and crime; the rich oppress the poor, the poor, not being able to retaliate upon the rich, oppress one another and literally make a hell of what the Almighty intended should be a foretaste of that better land. . .