BY Dave Segal
Fri, 5/16, 5-7pm: SALON – Meanwhile, At That Same Moment… part 7: Historian Scott Molloy on the labor movement, circa 1838.
Rhode Island workers organized themselves into a primitive labor union in 1789, a year before the establishment of Slater’s Mill. By the 1830s the local Mechanics Association was already agitating for a ten-hour workday, better working conditions, and the right to vote for ordinary citizens.
The Union, led by the state’s first notable working class leader, Seth Luther, rallied, petitioned, and lobbied for their demands. By 1838 these skilled workers took the lead in setting the stage for the Dorr Rebellion in 1842 with its host of constitutional changes and democratic initiatives. Although their effort failed to some extent, these tradesmen did manage to enlarge the suffrage and ensure inclusion of their voices in future political debates.
For Athenaeum members and their guests.