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History of Labor in America The Industrial Revolution was dawning in the United States At Lowell Massachusetts the construction of a big cotton mill began in 1821 It was the first of several that would be built there in the next 10 years The machinery to spin and weave cotton into cloth would be driven by water power All that the factory owners needed was a dependable supply of labor to tend the machines As most jobs in cotton factories required neither great strength nor special skills the owners thought women could do the work as well as or better than men In addition they were more compliant The New England region was home to many young single farm girls who might be recruited But would stern New England farmers allow their daughters to work in factories The great majority of them would not They believed that sooner or later factory workers would be exploited and would sink into hopeless poverty Economic laws would force them to work harder and harder for less and less pay How then were the factory owners able to recruit farm girls as laborers They did it by building decent houses in which the girls could live These houses were supervised by older women who made sure that the girls lived by strict moral standards The girls were encouraged to go to church to read to write and to attend lectures They saved part of their earnings to help their families at home or to use when they got married The young factory workers did not earn high wages the average pay was about 350 a week But in those times a half-dozen eggs cost five cents and a whole chicken cost 15 cents The
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