How May I Obtain Copies? This index covers the Schenectady Daily Gazette for July to June , July to November 6, , , to June , December to July 2, , January to May 7, , March to August 19, , to June 2, and January to February 2, , as well as other Schenectady papers for various periods dating back to and regional papers covering the counties of Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, Saratoga, Schoharie, Warren and Washington beginning in through August 3, See the newspaper list for specific coverage.
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Unless otherwise stated, this index includes all obituaries and death notices labeled DN in the newspaper. The Society stated vehemently that unregulated employment of half-way journeymen adversely altered the craft and degraded the position of skilled journeymen printers. Like other organized men's claims that de-skilling a craft specifically hurt the families of experienced men, the Society argued that it was the skilled "journeyman, and one who, probably, has a family dependent on his labour for support" who would lose out to wage cuts as a result of half-way journeymen driving down wages.
The Society's circular ended with a poignant appeal to master craftsmen that is worth quoting at length.
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They wrote:. The statement exhibits how printers' skill and workplace performance related to domestic obligations by acknowledging the sacrifices that skilled journeymen made in order to earn a living for their families. Skilled journeymen feared the competition of unregulated apprentices and half-way journeymen both because of the breakdown of the traditional artisanal system and its associated menace to craftsmen's economic standing and because of what such challenges signaled for the future of skilled craft workers struggling to fulfill household obligations and earn breadwinning wages.
Apart from the issue of training, workers from outside the country posed a different threat to the standing and wages of skilled artisans than workers from inside the country. Union objections to foreign workers split into two very different potential threats: competition from cheap goods made by workers in another country usually England that merchants dumped into the New York market and competition from actual immigrant workers in the New York labor market.
New York artisans championed their skills above those of international craftsmen, so it was not the quality of foreign-made goods that threatened them, but their reduced prices. Similarly, working men did not complain that superior European craftsmen threatened their jobs and reduced their earnings, but rather that some inferior immigrant workers accepted "knocked down wages" and upset the labor market.
Responding to the glut of British-finished products making their way into New York City in the early years of the nineteenth century, numerous artisans' organizations attempted to change trade policies concerning imported goods. In , the Journeymen Hatters' Society petitioned Congress to object to the dumping of cheap European hats in the city. They argued that "by the constant importations of that article [hats], our home manufacturers in that particular have diminished, and probably will continue to suffer, and perhaps finally go to ruin.
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Petition to Congress For Encouragement To Manufacturing, Here again, organized men linked their superior workshop skills with their ability to satisfy their household duties; any economic threat to their workplace performance threatened their maintenance of domestic masculinity. It was not only established European craftsmen who New York's artisans deemed as a threat to their craft-standing.
During the Panic of , another petition sent to Congress cited the "embarrassment, depression, and distress which is so universally felt" by New York's artisans due to unrestricted trade with India and China, whose cheap goods of poor quality provided tough competition. Whereas virtual unanimity existed among New York's skilled journeymen in their opposition to the unregulated importation of foreign goods , the presence of foreign workers in the city elicited a more nuanced response. Part of the complexity of the situation—as with the relationship between unionists and all types of other workers—stemmed from the demographic composition of the two groups and their actual lived experiences.
Just as many of New York City's organized men moved from the American hinterland, a large and growing proportion of the city's artisans hailed from Europe. Webb, foreign-born, but many of the rank-and-file came from England, Scotland, and Ireland. Some trade union members did join the contemporary Native American Democratic Association, a nativist political party founded in and supported by the newspaper Spirit of '76 , but such activities seemed the exception rather than the rule.
One British anti-emigration propagandist's contention that working New Yorkers' "prejudice consists in their hatred of the English people" was certainly an overstatement. However, competition from foreign workers in certain capacities concerned organized men enough to voice their objections to the newly-arrived workers.
Upholding Craft Skill
While most apprenticeships involved young boys and girls in their teens, some recently-arrived adults who could not find work because of suspect qualifications or references sought apprentice contracts. A typical example of a mature apprentice was George Ellis, a house carpenter from Scotland who indentured himself to George Graham for three years starting in May , even though he was already "upwards of 21 years.
Skilled journeymen also viewed immigrant laborers who competed in trades already saturated by workers from Europe as potential threats. Adam Burt's poetry about the influx of new weavers into the city spoke to the problem:. The lines require some unpacking, but the poem is mainly concerned with competition from new immigrant weavers who work for less money and do not give bosses trouble or unionize union members often wound up in court, charged for conspiracy by prosecutor Richard Riker.
Most Scottish weavers settled in an area around West Seventeenth Street known as Weaver's Row and any addition to their ranks brought pressure not only to the labor market, but also to the housing market in the close-knit weavers' neighborhood. Organized men's relationship to African American workers was similarly complex, and evolved continually based on the demographic realities of New York City and the determination of skilled white journeymen to rhetorically differentiate their craft traditions from other forms of work or labor.
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Unionists did not lump free African American workers or enslaved African American laborers together with unskilled white laborers, but they also did not consider them a more important threat than the various other groups competing with skilled white working men. They viewed African-Americans as just one group of workers, amongst various other groups of workers, against whom organized men defended their workplace position. Following paths of both demographic and rhetorical inquiry, a nuanced picture of the relationship between skilled white artisans and African American workers emerges.
Demographic information demonstrates that skilled white journeymen employed in the vast majority of New York City trades did not face real competition from free African American workers, but at a few particular moments, organized men constructed both free and enslaved African Americans as rhetorical counterpoints to their model of skilled workplace performance and domestic maintenance.
Skilled white journeymen would not have recognized a noticeable increase in African American workers in New York City's craft trades during the first four decades of the nineteenth century, although there was an upsurge in the number of female workers, half-way journeymen, and foreign workers. According to federal census categories, in , New York City's population was In , the numbers shifted to By , the city's population included Segregation in New York's labor market also meant that many African American men could not easily obtain positions that placed them in competition with skilled white workers.
Most African American men worked in service sector jobs such as barbers, tubmen, and chimney sweeps which white society deemed "black work. An letter to The Colored American even asked why more young African American boys did not try to procure craft apprenticeships. Using language similar to organized men's championing of their skill level, the article noted that a "knowledge of the mechanic arts, and several good operative mechanics, would, in a great degree, assist in the elevation of our people; and tend, as much as any thing else, to our respectability and worth.
So, while some African American men did find work as artisans or craftsmen, their numbers in the labor market were not great enough for skilled white journeymen to acknowledge them as particularly dangerous competition. The difficulty of gauging organized men's attitudes toward the institution of slavery complicates any understanding of the actual relationship between skilled white artisans and both free and enslaved African Americans. Like other issues of conscience, slavery provoked a range of reactions from New York's organized men.
For every individual whose actions sustained Anthony Gronowicz's recent contention that antebellum white workers realized their "support for slavery" through their labor politics and activism, other individuals demonstrated organized men's agitation against the slave system and, as Jonathan H. Earle shows, helped launch political antislavery in these years. While this statistic included some master craftsmen who acted as signatories, organized working men Robert Townsend Jr. Moreover, anti-slavery support did not isolate organized men from their fellow journeymen artisans because in these years, most working men did not view the institution of slavery as an immediate threat to their household-based masculinity.
The first was near at hand and portentous to themselves, the latter remote and dangerous only to those at a distance. His statements also reiterated the fact that organized men consciously defended their masculinity based on a number of factors, not merely in binary opposition to a single issue. The relationship between skilled white artisans and African American workers becomes more complicated when considering organized men's rhetoric and the demographic realities of New York City.
Labor activists made a limited number of public references to slavery and African American workers in the years before , but when they did make such comments, they offered illuminating examples of how opposition to a black other embodied only one aspect of a complex working men's masculinity. An interesting early example of this rhetoric came from a debate about how shoemakers dealt with competition from the prison manufacture of shoes in Writing in the Commercial Advertiser , Brutus argued that a plan by master shoemakers to require journeymen to get permission from the master they "had worked with last," before obtaining new employment with another master would limit journeymen's free engagement with the market.
He wrote that if employers enacted such a system, it would "put the journeymen shoemakers upon the same footing with a hired negro wench , that must have a recommendation before she can get a place. Roediger and others to argue that white male workers primarily constructed their identity in opposition to blackness; however, something more subtle was at work.
In a few short lines, Brutus attempted to maintain his craft position by placing skilled white journeymen shoemakers in opposition to all of the following groups: employers, prison laborers, women, and African Americans.
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In this process, a rhetoric of racial exclusion combined with a larger discourse about a variety of other workers all of whom challenged and threatened skilled artisans' domestic obligations in different ways. What this meant for the experiences of actual organized men is that journeymen probably adopted some labor rhetoric—such as the word "boss"—in order to consciously disassociate union men from slave labor, while they utilized other terms—such as "wage slavery"—in a more nuanced manner.
It would therefore make sense for English visitor William Clark to note the unique usage of the term "Boss" in s New York City because it did "not comport with a white American to call another master in plain English. Overall then, organized men related to free and enslaved African American workers similarly as they did to the other groups who posed potential threats to their craft standing, by singling them out for differentiation only in moments of crisis.
In the years between to , few such moments occurred, so the relationship between skilled white journeymen and African American workers in contributing to the formation of the masculine worker identity should not be overestimated or be oversimplified. In contrast with their treatment of other groups who potentially threatened their workplace status, skilled journeymen approached the incarcerated laborers in state prisons with little nuance.
Consistently and aggressively throughout the period, trade unions, working men's political groups, and other artisan organizations attacked New York's system of prison discipline for including craft-manufacturing labor. Intense public outcry in resulted in petitions from over , artisans around the state demanding an end to the convict labor system. Journeymen artisans cited the unfair market aspect of the convict labor system and its effect on skilled working men's craft standing and subsequent breadwinning abilities.
Outspoken advocate William Leggett explicitly complained that the State did not have to pay the convict workforce, so they could "afford to sell articles of prison manufacture at a price which would not supply the free mechanic with bread. Some detractors of the prison system objected to teaching prisoners mechanical skills because once convicts left jail, their acquired craft knowledge posed a threat to society's security and stability.
As part of a larger early nineteenth-century debate about the usefulness of criminal rehabilitation, skilled artisans shocked the public with horror stories about the behavior of workers who "graduated" from training at Auburn or Sing Sing. One account described how an ex-convict "plundered his employer," while another depicted some of the "most arrant knaves" who could not "retain [their] place longer than a few days. Some of them pilfered [the boss'] small tools, and one broke open his shop at night and robbed it.
Certain types of criminal labor presented more of a threat to the general public than others because of the range of skills they learned in prison. The Society of Journeymen Locksmiths, fronted by Loco Foco leader Levi Slamm, appealed to the public to help end the training of prison locksmiths because of their potential for harming private citizens.