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History of Lowell: Voice of Industry

Plea from Skibbereen to the Girls of Lowell

April 9, 1847 

The thought has occurred to me to-day while visiting the miserable hovels of the poor creatures dying with destitution, that the girls of Lowell, of whom the world has heard much honorable mention, might do a grateful thing in rescuing some of their sex not only from the misery but the shame of their situation. No language of mine can describe the destitution of clothing to which all ages and both sexes are reduced in this land of the shadows of death. Everything of value has been pawned for food. Thousands of women and children here are so destitute of covering as to prevent them from going out into the streets to beg. In hundreds of these hovels the living wife or child or husband has lain for days close beside the dead body of  
a husband, mother or wife, in order to cover themselves with the rags spread over the deceased. Now I had thought to-day, while witnessing these scenes of suffering, that the Girls of Lowell might give each a comfortable calico dress, to clothe the destitute of their sex in Skibbereen. I am sure such an example would be followed by the ladies in different towns in New England, and that tens of thousands of these poor, thin, naked, blue-lipped children would attest in favor of their benefactresses at another day; 'I was naked  
and ye clothed me.' I hope the counties of Middlesex and Essex will club together and send out a ship freighted with provisions and clothing for Ireland, and that it will embrace in its bill of lading 10,000 calico dresses, suited to every size, from the Factory Girls of the two counties.  


Skibbereen, Feb. 23, 1847