For Safer Working Conditions
and Shorter Hours
Circa 1845 – Lowell, MA
Is anyone such a fool as to suppose that out of six thousand girls in Lowell, sixty would be there if they could help it? Whenever I raise the point that it is immoral to shut us up in a room twelve hours a day in the most monotonous and tedious employment I am told that we have come to the mills voluntarily and we can leave when we will. Voluntarily! . . .
The whip which brings us to Lowell is necessity. We must have money; a father’s debts are to be paid, an aged mother to be supported, a brother’s ambition to be aided and so the factories are supplied.
Is this to act from free will? Is this freedom? To my mind it is slavery.
Source: New England Historical Society: http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/sarah-bagley-avenges-new-england-mill-girls/