Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Company towns


[M]any other [company] towns were monuments to the Utopian spirit. Benevolent bosses such as Milton Hershey, a chocolate king, and Henry Kaiser, a shipping magnate, went out of their way to provide their workers not just with decent houses but with schools, libraries and hospitals. This Utopian impulse inevitably went hand-in-hand with benevolent bossiness. Hershey served as his town’s mayor, constable and fire chief and employed a squad of “moral police” to spy on the workers.

"Those who write so effusively about the 'Beauties of Factory Life' tell us that we are indeed happy creatures, and how truly grateful and humbly submissive we should be. Can it be that any of us are so stupified as not to realize the exalted station and truly delightful influences which we enjoy? ... Pianos, teachers of music, evening schools, lectures, libraries and all these sorts of advantages are ... enjoyed by the operatives. (Query -- when do they find time for all or any of these? When exhausted nature demands repose?) Very pretty picture that to write about; but we who work in the factory know the sober reality to be quite another thing altogether."

-- Juliana, Voice of Industry, June 12, 1846

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