AMERCAN NOTES: TRAVELS IN AMERICA
A SECOND VISIT TO THE UNITED STATES OF NORTH AMERICA
Lyell's observations about American women excluded the comments about society gatherings so prevalent from other travelers, among them Tocqueville and Beaumont. Lyell noted approvingly the deference shown to female travelers on the railway and on the steamboats, but most of his remarks about American women concerned their work in Lowell in the mills and their work for religious charities. Lyell also included detailed information about slave provisions, slave prices, and a slave wedding.
EXCERPT – CHAPTER VI
I was informed by a fellow-traveler that the joint-stock companies of Lowell have a capital of more than two millions sterling invested. "Such corporations," he said, "are too aristocratic for our ideas, and can combine to keep down the price of wages." But one of the managers, in reply, assured me that the competition of rival factories is great, and the work-people pass freely from one company to another, being only required to sign an agreement to give a fortnight's notice to quit. He also maintained that, on the contrary, they are truly democratic institutions, the shares being as low as 500 dollars, and often held by the operatives, as some of them were by his own domestic servants. By this system the work-people are prevented from looking on the master manufacturers as belonging to a distinct class, having different interests from their own. The holders of small shares have all the advantages of partners, but are not answerable for the debts of the establishment beyond their deposits. They can examine all the accounts annually, when there is a public statement of their affairs.
An English overseer told me that he and other foremen were receiving
here, and in other New England mills, two dollars and two and a half dollars
a day (8s. 6d. and 10s. 6d.).
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