A Plea for the Oppressed
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Nebraska Press
This kind of recovery project would not be possible without the assistance of staffs at research libraries and archives. The editor extends grateful thanks to the librarians of the New York Public Libraryâs Humanities and Social Sciences Library, Boston Public Library, the New England Historic Genealogical Society Library...
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Jennie Collins wrote Natureâs Aristocracy; or, Battles and Wounds in Time of Peace: A Plea for the Oppressed at a time when questions about the meaning of work and about relations between labor and capital were being passionately debated. During the headlong postbellum expansion of American industry, people struggled to understand the changing workplace. One journalist wrote in 1869, âIt is becoming more and more plain, and being...
A Note on the Text/Dedication
Jennie Collinsâs text is reproduced from the only edition, which was published in late 1870 by Lee and Shepard of Boston, Massachusetts, and by Lee, Shepard, and Dillingham of New York, New York. The title page is dated 1871, although 1870 is the copyright date, and most published reviews of the book appeared in late 1870 and early 1871. The text as presented here is nearly the same as Collinsâs, retaining nineteenth-century...
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Natureâs Aristocracy
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They are sad tales indeed which I have to tell. Too full of sorrow and suffering, defeats and discouragements, oppression and cruelty to be sought by the gay, and too true to attract the novelist. Yet I must write them. The world shall hear them, though the recollec-tion brings tears and the repetition a shudder. Sad faces! How they ...
Chapter 2: The Beggars
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Poor little Lizzie! How sad she always appeared as she came to the kitchen door and asked for something to eat! I can see her still as I recall her tattered dress, dirty feet, matted hair, fresh red cheeks, and large blue eyes. With all her rags and filth she had the air of a queen, â a queen of moral purity and love. Behind her bright eyes ...
Chapter 3: One Grade above the Beggars
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Do you call them dens? You are right; they are dens. For most as-suredly they are not homes, although they may be human dwellings. Ah! how you revolt at the idea of entering those musty attics and those damp and vermin-filled cellars! But the lowest stage of human wretchedness will not be seen without such a sacrifice; so march ...
Chapter 4: Crime and Nobility
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It does seem to me that there are times when, notwithstanding the scripture, it is eminently wise to âthank God that we are not as other menâ;1 and when the wisdom of that celebrated divine who never saw a thief, drunkard, or murderer without saying to himself, âIt might have been me,â is fully...
Chapter 5: Newsboys and Bootblacks
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It is not my purpose to give in this chapter the many cases where bootblacks and newsboys have become wealthy and influential men; for many whose names I find in the âscrap-bookâ would object to the publication of their lives. A correspondent of the Boston Travel-ler, writing in 1857, stated that there were then âten leading editors ...
Chapter 6: Shop-Girls
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There is probably no class of persons in New England who are so necessary to its prosperity, and at the same time so little noticed or cared for, as the shop-girls. They are to be found in every depart-ment of trade, in nearly every workshop and manufactory; and ev-them. Behind the counter, at the book-keeperâs desk, in the pack-...
Chapter 7: Journeymen Tailors
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There is no class of workingmen so subject to annoyance as that of the journeymen tailors. They are either overrun with work, or have none at all. To-day they earn ten dollars and tomorrow will earn nearly all night to fulfil the contracts made by their employer, and next week they will be seen loafing about the shop or street cor-...
Chapter 8: Servant-Girls
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When the cry of the working-women of New England finds lodgement in the ears of the wealthy housewives, the first question which they put is always this, âWhy do they not go out as house-servants?â and the question is asked in that decided manner which indicates that the speaker declines to do anything for them as long as that field is open.1 There is a great demand for housekeepers and servant- girls even in New England, and the...
Chapter 9: Then and Now of Factory Life
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This is an age of bargains and contracts. Those good old days of generous hospitality, of friendly assistance, and of mutual good-will have passed into history as a thing that existed once, but can never come again. Everything that is performed to-day seems to be done under a contract, in which each gesture, step, and thought is ...
Chapter 10: How Cotton Is Manufactured.âFactory Friendships
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In order that the reader may be able to understand the terms which I shall be obliged to use in the chapters that follow, a few words the cotton passes while being manufactured into cloth. The cotton placed in the basement of the factory, which picks and combs out the sticks, seeds, and hard lumps, leaving only the light, feathery ...
Chapter 11: Among the âStrikersâ
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If it needed any argument to prove what is already patent to the most careless observer, namely, that the working-classes are natu-rally intelligent and able, nothing would be more forcible than a reference to the âstrikesâ which have occurred among the operatives in New England within the last ten years. It may be thought that ...
Chapter 12: Charitable Institutions
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Charity! â how many conflicting reflections that word brings into the mind! Love, pride, vice, shame, benevolence, ambition, hate, other in the idea it suggests, that an accurate definition would be impossible. The time was when it meant a simple, unostentatious act of the purest sympathy and love. But that day passed more than ...
Chapter 13: Natural and Unnatural Aristocrats
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It is refreshing, after long contemplation of vice, cruelty, and in-justice, to turn our eyes for a time upon the opposite picture, and greatness. It is inspiring to see, through the clouds of battle, some portions of the great army scaling heights and winning victories, Some of Natureâs noblemen do win the battles of life, and are able to ...
Chapter 14: Labor Reform
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The time was, not many years ago, when the employee who received his regular wages never ventured to inquire into his employerâs busi-ness, nor questioned the equity of his pay, provided that he obtained a sufficient amount to defray his necessary expenses. It mattered but little to him, as far as right was concerned, whether the pay was ...
Chapter 15: Womanâs Suffrage
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The exact meaning of the word ârightsâ has never been definitely settled, and the expression âwomanâs rightsâ only serves to render its import more vague and complicated than when standing alone. You want your ârights.â I want my ârights.â White men want their ârights,â and black men want their ârightsâ; but in the whole list ...
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Page Count: 260
Illustrations: 1 b&w photo
Publication Year: 2010
Series Title: Legacies of Nineteenth-Century American