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Identify the issues raised by the growth of Manchester and analyze the various reactions to those issues over the course of the nineteenth century. The spread of industrialization rapidly altered and changed the city of Manchester during the nineteenth century. Of course there were positive effects that stemmed from this, but negative effects due to the growth of industrialization outnumbered the positive outcomes and are often overshadowed. The environmental hazards and the working conditions of the factory were enough to harm laborers and the gentry (documents 1, 2, 6, 7, 8 and 11), dulling the positive effects null and void in comparison to the many issues raised by the growth of Manchester. The factories caused a surplus of health issues for Manchester, polluting rivers, inflicting anatomical disfiguration and mistreatment of workers, the corrupt Labor Laws, rapid urbanization bringing subpar housing that only furthered the health problems on workers, and air coated with smog.
Manchester’s industrial blossoming brought forth statistical evidence on the growth of industry and the downfall of the working man (doc 1 and 8), the gentry and higher class (those who benefitted from the growth), and the reformers (those paid attention to the laborers who suffered, lost years of potential life, were worked to the bone and were paid little to no wages for their sacrifices.) In essence, the surplus of health issues that the industrialization of Manchester brought about is heavily argued over. Many believe that such sacrifices were required to reach industrial success, but the argument of Flora Tristan (doc 7) turns those petty justifications onto their heads “O God! Can progress be bought only at the cost of men’s lives?” That is to say, while the gentry sat on their piles of profit bought from the lives of laborers, they routinely coined this as “progress” and “necessary.” The explanation from a French visitor to Manchester (doc 5) paints a dark picture of the city that grew to a population of 300,000 due to the growth of industry “From this foul drain the greatest stream of human industry flows out to fertilize the whole world; from this filthy sewer pure gold flows.
Here humanity attains its most complete development and its most brutish; here civilization works its miracles, and civilized man is turned back into a savage.” Keep in mind that this was a mere visitor who looked upon the city before him and saw the true suffering of the grim and withering laborers within the large manufacturing companies. While there was development for humanity within Manchester, the most brutish development grew and flowed like the shadow behind you as you walk further down a path. This socialism and reaction for justice is what brought forth the outcry for labor reforms. Factory conditions were unfavorable to its laborers, and from this truth some who sought to better the lives of the workers and improve working conditions of the mill derived. Politicians and gentry saw no reason to improve these conditions, for their main concern was that their increased population (doc 1) and further modernizing of the city raked in profits. The reaction and outcry of the people eventually brought forth improved labor laws that recognized the child labor, and the illegitimacy and lack of morality, further proved by this document “The condition of the factory laborers has been vastly improved within the last quarter of a century.
The Hours of Labor in Factories Act, passed in 1844, worked a through reform. The excessive hours of labor have been legally reduced to ten hours per day. Wages–thanks mainly to accelerated machinery and improved working conditions–have largely increased. The lavish provision of public parks, baths, and free libraries promotes the health, happiness and culture of the industrial orders. Far seldomer than before do we hear the murmur of popular discontent. Sickness and mortality have been reduced to an extent that is almost incredible” (doc 10 – Abram’s, a journalist and historian, published journal account of the improvements to industrial Manchester.) Public health was an extremely important issue that sparked reactions to the polluted water and air, the Corn Laws and the well-being of laborers in filthy conditions. “Diseases caused or aggravated by atmospheric impurities produced by decomposing animal and vegetable substances, by damp and filth, and close and overcrowded dwellings, prevail among the laboring classes. The annual loss of life from filth and bad ventilation is greater than the loss from death or wounds in modern wars” (doc 6), “Most workers lack clothing, bed, furniture, fuel wholesome food, even potatoes!
They spend from twelve to fourteen hours each day shut up in low-ceilinged rooms where with every breath of foul air they absorb fibers of cotton, wool, or particles of copper, lead or iron. They live suspended between an insufficiency of food and an excess of strong drink; they are all wizened, sickly and emaciated, their bodies thin and frail, their limbs feeble, their complexions pale, and their eyes dead” (doc 7.) These two documents describe the leading issue of public health that dominated the city of Manchester and brought forth Corn Law protests, increased mortality rates for the average laborer (doc 8), and the visual of pollution that spread disease, sickness and even more mortality (doc 11.) Edwin Chadwick of document six was a public health reformer and his excerpt is from his report on the conditions of the laboring population. As a health reformer, his position is understandable and his report is exemplary of the conditions of the laborers. Flora Tristan of document 7 was a socialist and women’s rights advocate, publishing the content of her 1842 journal that discussed the issue of food, health and housing conditions of Manchester. As a socialist, she was one who advocated rights of citizens, therefore it is understandable why she holds a place against the wrongs that laborers were forced to endure.
The gentry and higher classes were ones who did not care to notice what was going on below them, where the profits, food and clean housing were not flowing. Concerned with the attractiveness and profitability of Manchester, this was the main priority of those who discussed such petty things while the classes below them were coated in smog, pollution, disease, starvation from Corn Laws, mistreatment from corrupt Labor Laws, etc. Manchester’s industrialization was a curse to the working man and a blessing to the gentry. The working man bathed in filth, pollution and abuse while the gentry bathed in the profits of the laborer’s tireless efforts. The gentry didn’t see it this way though. “Perhaps no part of England, not even London, presents such remarkable and attractive features as Manchester, the Workshop of the World. It is to the energetic exertions and enterprising spirit of its population that Manchester is mainly indebted to its elevation as a seat of commerce and manufacture, which I have recently attained and for which it is distinguished beyond any other town in the British Dominions or indeed the world” (doc 9) is one example of the blind overshadowing the higher class used to cover up the classes below them.
This was Wheelan and Co’s preface to a business directory on Manchester being granted a royal charter as a city. When you observe the fact that this is a company discussing business on the granting of Manchester, you can see why the city was painted as lavish and one that presents “energetic exertions and enterprising spirit of its population that Manchester is mainly indebted to its elevation as a seat of commerce and manufacture” as its main source of success. Document 3 is an essay by Thomas Macauley, a liberal member of Parliament who is indeed a member of the gentry/higher class and is therefore speaking of the Manchester he sees (the higher class living funded by the wages of the dying laborers below him) “People live longer because they are better fed, better lodged, better clothed and better attended in sickness, and these improvements are owing to the increase in national wealth which the manufacturing system has produced.”
Mr. Macauley’s position as a member of Parliament does not support his essay too much due to the fact that he lives in the profits of the “workshop of the world” and does not actually endure the conditions of this “workshop.” However, it is understandable why Macauley would hold this view due to his standard of living being his only definition of Manchester. All things considered, the issues raised by the industrial growth of Manchester (all extreme and requiring as much attention as the positives raised by this growth) sparked reactions that inspired labor reforms over the course of the nineteenth century.