Advocating The Man
Masculinity, Organized Labor, and the Household in New York, 1800-1840
by Joshua R. Greenberg


Working Men and the Household in Early Republic New York


As recording secretary for the New York Journeymen Ladies' Cordwainers' Union, Oramel Bingham drafted a petition to non-union craftsmen for support during a strike over proposed wage reductions in June of 1834.1 He informed his fellow artisans (men who made women's shoes) that as they stood out from work during a moment of crisis, "our destinies, and those of our families, therefore, are, to a very great extent, in our own hands." If they were to allow the wage cuts, "want and infamy would be our certain doom, and penury and disgrace our children's only legacy."2 The following summer Bingham led the union in another strike. This time the men sought a pay raise, "considering the present prices inadequate to support their families."3 At the conclusion of the walkout, Bingham appeared before the General Trades' Union (GTU) Convention on behalf of his fellow cordwainers. He served as the Journeymen Ladies' Cordwainers' delegate to the GTU, the city's umbrella labor organization, and wanted to inform them that the men were back at work, fulfilling their breadwinning role. The convention thanked him and the union "for their manly conduct during the strike."4

Less than a year later, on Monday, May 23, 1836, while serving as co-director of the GTU's own newspaper, The Union, Oramel Bingham left the workshop yet again. This time, it was not a strike or radical political action but rather the sudden, unexpected death of his son William Dodge Bingham, "aged three months and nine days." Oramel had married his wife Elizabeth McIntyre Dodge in 1827 and William was their sixth child.5 The morning issue of The Union reported that "friends and acquaintances of the family are invited to attend the funeral" later in the day.6 These brief anecdotes show that workplace endeavors did not remove skilled craftsmen such as Bingham from household experiences, instead they closely intertwined. Oramel Bingham and the working husbands and fathers who forged the early labor movement during the first four decades of the nineteenth century in New York City are the subjects of this study.

This book demonstrates how working men's lived domestic experiences notably shaped organized labor activities in early nineteenth-century New York and informed particular household-based responses to emerging systems of market capitalism. It is premised on the notion that skilled artisans' conceptions of gendered domestic and civic roles were indivisible, so it is vital to begin a study of the nascent organized labor movement in the home. Using the household as the focal point of an examination of labor activists, this study distinguishes itself from those works that posit political and class-based explanations for early labor organizing. Studies of this type focus uniformly on political and intellectual developments without exploring working men in a holistic manner. In order to fully understand New York's workers, it is crucial to move, as they did, from their homes outward into their workplace and political arenas. This investigation does not posit that every outside-the-home action integrated smoothly with household realities, but those that did, such as work and politics, clearly demonstrate the importance of domestic realities.

Although the contemporary breakdown of traditional artisanal households sometimes physically divided workers' domestic space from their occupational space, skilled journeymen did not ideologically, culturally, or politically experience a separate sphere's existence. Regardless of their work or political roles, or the number of hours spent away from the home, household and neighborhood relationships defined their principal obligations. Working men thus engaged market capitalism as household representatives and maintained cogent links between domestic, political, and work-related masculine responsibilities.


As part of this household-based market engagement, working men confronted numerous obstacles to their ability to fulfill perceived domestic responsibilities. Threats came in the form of financial institutions and policy, such as the power of monopolies and the proliferation of paper money. However, they also came in the form of competition from other workers, such as prison laborers, female workers, and African American workers. In response to such threats, working men organized the early labor movement, utilizing trade unions and political parties to champion their vision household-based masculinity and protect their roles as breadwinners and fathers. Critically, it was as husbands and fathers that Oramel Bingham and thousands of skilled working men in New York between 1800 and 1840 turned to collective labor organizations in order to face threats to their household responsibilities and roles.

This study reorients existing historical literatures on labor, gender, and household economy by placing the family, household obligations, and gender identity at the center of an examination of the nascent labor movement. While other historians have individually tackled the broad topics of organized labor, gender identity, and political culture in the early republic, this book transforms these separate discussions into one narrative to show how working men's conception of household obligations affected organized responses to the market revolution. It also addresses lacunae within the scholarship on workers and the market revolution of the early nineteenth century by holistically treating their lives and the labor movement as more than simply battle between ideological or material contests in the workplace.7

At some level, earlier studies forget that at the end of the day, workers went home, and that a main reason that they endured and eventually challenged their working conditions was because of domestic responsibilities to themselves and their families. Rather than the artisan republicanism or particularized class consciousness that Sean Wilentz detailed in his influential Chants Democratic, working men's perception of threats to their household-based masculine identity grounds organized reactions to the new industrial economy in this narrative.8 This argument does not merely add an analysis of gendered language to existing scholarship on class-based labor organizing; rather, it refocuses the early nineteenth-century labor movement narrative by focusing on working men primarily as domestic actors.9

Such an approach also challenges recent examinations of early nineteenth-century gender which focus mostly on women and on middling and elite men, rather than on working men.10 When working men's lives have been probed, it has been through their plebian social excursions as bare-knuckle pugilists, firemen, rioters, or tavern denizens, and not their domestic activities.11 This project views skilled working men primarily as household actors, so their forays into political or workplace organizing are analyzed in relation to their family affairs and perceived obligations.12 Key to this study is the abandonment of a gender-based ideology of separate spheres that segregates workshop (male) from home (female) and has dominated much of the scholarship of nineteenth-century domesticity and political economy.13 The shape and make-up of worker families may not have been uniform, but the interplay between their domestic and work lives was the guiding feature of most worker activities.14

Critical to this argument is the relationship between the social experiences of organized working men and their cultural production. In order to unite these usually divergent fields, this project utilizes a model for analyzing the history of American workers by replacing class-analysis bound methodologies usually employed in labor history studies with one that begins with a demographic profile of specific working men and then analyzes their cultural, political, and workplace rhetoric and activities, moving from the household outward. The focus here is on what Anna Clark refers to as "linking the personal with the political in working-class history."15 One important result of this approach is that the esoteric world of class consciousness formation and artisan republicanism is replaced by a more tangible world where issues such as rent, food, and children's education are the driving force for organized labor's rhetoric and activities.16 The success of this model hinges on creating the proper balance between a purely demographic or materialistic portrait of organized laborers and one that focuses solely on an exploration of workers' language and cultural production. The danger in the former is the reduction of all worker activities to base economic determinism; the peril in the latter is the championing of the linguistic turn without enough context, so the analysis takes on a trajectory of its own without anything to ground it in the empirical world.17


This book balances social and cultural historical pursuits by mustering evidence from both traditional and previously unused sources on the lives on New York's organized working men in order to explore in detail and elucidate connections between lived domestic experiences and rhetorical cultural production. It utilizes demographic portraits of workers based on census, jury list records, and probate records, as well as often overlooked files from insolvency court proceedings held at the New York State Archives. Insolvency files include valuable information (such as creditor accounts and estate inventories) detailing the home lives of several organized working men

These materialistic sources are balanced with others produced by working men or concerning the cultural and political lives of working men. In this way, this study employs numerous sources that have not been previously utilized or wholly explored. For example, while scholars have long relied on pro-labor newspapers such as The Man, National Trades' Union, or the Working Man's Advocate for sketching the day-to-day narrative of the early labor movement, they have glossed over half of the papers' content that included marriage notices, poetry concerning worker's wives, and other moral or prescriptive literature. Such "light-reading articles" are a treasure chest of cultural information when used alongside more straightforward economic discussions.18

This work also utilizes a series of heretofore uncited or underutilized sources that explicitly demonstrate the relationship between working men's household obligations and political or labor/cultural production. A few examples include: three plays written during the Panic of 1819 by journeyman bookbinder Vermilye Taylor that provide new insight into working men's fears of bankers and dandies, Adam Burt's extended 1831 poem, Journeymen Weaving, which also offers unparalleled access to working men's concerns about competition within the labor market and the role of weaver's wives in household, and A Dialogue Between Strike and Steady, Two Journeymen Tailors, In Relation to Trades Unions, Etc., a tract written by an unnamed evangelical source that was meant to aid families of striking tailors in 1836.19

Likewise, while every study of the Working Men's Party discusses and debates the role of Noah Cook's moderate faction, none have cited the New-York Reformer, Farmers', Mechanics', and Working Men's Champion that Cook himself edited in 1830.20 The inclusion of this newspaper radically changes the narrative of Cook's faction and the divisions within the Working Men's Party. Considered together, this collection of traditional and newly identified sources attempts to flesh out the relationship between domestic experience and cultural production for organized working men in early nineteenth-century New York.

New York City is the ideal location for this study not because it was typical of antebellum cities, but rather because it was a place of distinction. With two and a half times the population of its nearest rival in 1830, New York City was a unique American metropolis.21 However, it was not just the size of the city that set it apart; it was its diversity of production and position at the center of economic and cultural aspects of the market revolution. New York acted as the heart of the new industrial economy, pumping capital and trade in and out of its markets and workshops.22 Aside from craftwork and finances, information was the most important thing created and traded in New York. The city became one of the nation's printing and publishing centers in the early nineteenth century.


Along with hundreds of books and pamphlets, New York's printers produced dozens of periodicals and newspapers. By the mid-1830s, the city's 270,000 people could choose from more than fifteen dailies with a total circulation of over 50,000 and an even greater number of weekly and monthly publications.23 The growth occurred because publishers developed and adopted new affordable printing methods during these years, enabling the availability of cheap penny papers that could be both easily produced and easily consumed by the large working community. Cultural consumption was not limited to newspapers, however. Everything from paper currency, billboards, songs, plays, comic valentines, and advertising signs connected working men to a larger cultural context.24 The result of this process is that modern scholars have more opportunities to monitor early nineteenth-century working men's cultural expression and intellectual milieu in New York than in smaller or more isolated cities.

New York was also home to some of the first pro-labor newspapers printed in the United States with both dailies and weeklies during the heyday of the 1830s. These publications served a number of different political purposes and provided numerous platforms for working men's cultural production. The Man, for example, embodied a pro-worker sentiment, but primarily functioned as an anti-bank mouthpiece, while the General Trades' Union sponsored the National Trades' Union and The Union to encourage the growth of unionism.25 Modestly well-off printers who could afford, at least in the short run, to produce papers that did not make profits ran the presses.

New York was not only the center of the pro-labor press, it was the leading site for agitating against the economic changes occurring in society. Within the city, working men unionized, formed labor political parties, petitioned, and took their case before legislatures and the legal system. New York is an ideal location for analyzing these events because of the regularity and quantity of examples that took place within a short amount of time. Other cities fashioned working men's political parties, unions, and held labor conspiracy trials, but not with the variety and frequency of New York's organized labor action.26 Contemporaries even viewed New York as the center of the nation's labor movement. During the wave of mass unionism and strikes in the mid-1830s, the city served as home to almost all trade unions with national scope and membership, including the National Trades' Union and the National Journeymen Cordwainers' Union. Newspapers in other cities and states reprinted materials from New York's pro-labor press in order to tap the day's most sophisticated depictions of the relationship between household issues and workplace activities.27

The decision to restrict the limits of this study of organized labor and working men's households to the years between 1800 and 1840 reflects the contours of the labor movement itself. The turn of the century serves as useful starting point because, even though a handful of individual strikes and group actions occurred before 1800, there was no sustained labor movement in the eighteenth century. However, during the few years surrounding the turn of the century, the number of journeymen in New York City multiplied tenfold, with masters' numbers remaining about the same. While the de-skilling process varied by craft, working men clearly noticed its effects by the first decade of the nineteenth century.28 This period was also noteworthy because of the change from a few sporadic, uncoordinated strikes to more permanent journeymen's associations, culminating in the significant Cordwainers' Union conspiracy trials between 1809 and 1811.29

Following the growth of market capitalism and organized labor through the 1820s and 1830s allows this study to include both a diverse number of perceived threats to working men's households and an assorted range of working men's responses. Included are examinations of working men's activities and rhetoric during the Panic of 1819, the era of the Working Men's Party of the late 1820s and early 1830s, and the General Trades' Union and Loco Foco Party in the mid-1830s. This study ends around 1840 based on the timing of the Panic of 1837, an upheaval which effectively derailed the labor movement and politics until later generations of organized men engaged in similar debates, albeit from different demographic realities.


It is useful at this point to define some of the terms that inhabit this project. When the terms "masculine," "masculinity," "manly," and "manliness," appear in this study, they do not refer to fixed or neutral traits or values, but rather to culturally malleable ones that men altered and contested over time. This also means that at any one moment, many forms of masculinity existed, given varying ethnic, class, generational, and cultural prerogatives. In this way, working men's masculinity in early nineteenth-century New York referred both to the conceptions of what it meant to properly fulfill household and family obligations and the conceptions of what it meant to properly fulfill skilled craft and co-worker obligations. However, because domestic and workplace spheres interconnected, these masculine ideals often entwined. Likewise, this should not imply that one static set of traits existed for all organized working men, but rather that a subtle contest over ideal masculine traits was ongoing. One constant in this contest was men's understanding (whether implicit or explicit) of their position of power over their wives and children within the family. Working men's notions of domestic responsibility and obligation, which are central to this study, always developed within the context of men's legally sanctioned household dominance.30

Scholars have discussed the concept of the "market revolution" over the past two decades in conjunction with the work of Charles Sellers, Christopher Clark, Michael Merrill, Paul E. Johnson, and Sean Wilentz.31 While debating the details of the transformation, these scholars use the term "market revolution" in America to refer to the growth of a set of interconnected economies in the early and middle years of the nineteenth century that replaced locally-based subsistence economies. The market revolution sometimes, but not always, represented early industrial capitalist endeavors and subsequently faced contestation from individuals and communities, but overall, affected the lives of most Americans in these years by linking local production to national and international consumption. In this study, the term "market revolution" refers to those economic and financial forces that increased production demands in New York City during the early nineteenth century. It was these pressures that led master artisans and bosses to break down craft skill operations and augment the labor of skilled white men with competition from other types of workers, such as apprentices, unskilled white and African American workers, female workers, immigrants, and prison laborers.

Working men in New York faced a wide variety of challenges in the face of the market revolution, so the term "organized labor" denotes the entire spectrum of institutional and informal systems working men employed to address the challenges. This range of activities included formal types of labor activism such as trade unionism from the Journeymen Cordwainers' Union and New York Typographical Society in the first decade of the nineteenth century to the era of mass unionism seen in the General Trades' Union of the 1830s. Another type of institutional labor organizing came in the form of political parties. Two party's profiles appear in this narrative: the Working Men's Party, founded in 1829 and lasting in some form until 1831 and the Loco Foco Party, a Democratic splinter group that flourished between 1835 and 1837. This should not suggest that every member of these parties was a journeyman or even a skilled artisan, but rather that their platforms responded to skilled working men's household issues and that working men accounted for a majority of their operatives. However, this was not the full extent of working men's activities in these years. Less formal organized labor activities included the movement to abolish imprisonment for debt, banking reform, monopoly capitalism reform, and commodity auction reform.

In this way, the term "organized labor" should be construed in the broadest sense. Similarly, "organized men" refers to men who participated in any way in trades' unions, working men's political parties, and anti-bank, anti-monopoly, or anti-debtors' prison movements. Skilled journeymen artisans accounted for the vast majority of "organized men", but their ranks also included small master craftsmen, teachers, grocers, and doctors.

In order to adequately discuss the lives of these organized men and develop the interplay between household dynamics, the market revolution, and organized labor, the rest of this work is divided into three sections, each with two chapters, as well as a concluding case study and a short epilogue. Section One (Chapters One and Two) explores the social history of journeymen's domestic world by presenting a demographic profile of organized working men, their families, and neighborhoods in early nineteenth-century New York. By situating working men within a household setting, this section argues that for these men, no separate sphere's reality (or ideology) existed. Alternatively, it was as husbands and fathers that organized men developed particular notions of household-based masculinity informed by what it meant to be good family providers. Section Two (Chapters Three and Four) focuses on working men's perceived threats to their roles as family providers based on their encounters as they left the home and interacted with the marketplace and the workplace in the new industrial economy. Section Three (Chapters Five and Six) explains how working men attempted to thwart the perceived household threats detailed in Section Two by organizing trade unions and the Working Men's Party. The early organized labor movement was therefore directly related to working men's attempt at family maintenance and their desire to fulfill their conception of household-based masculinity.


Chapter One employs a prosopography of over one thousand trade unionists and Working Men's Party operatives based on an extensive analysis of census, tax list, probate, insolvency, and other documents. The resulting portrait shows that organized working men were older than average journeymen, most were married with children, and they had strong neighborhood ties. Their neighborhood ties can be seen both through their concern for local community issues and their work as volunteer firemen who protected homes and workshops from danger. Chapter Two crystallizes the notion of working men as household men by utilizing case studies of two particular individuals: house carpenter Robert Townsend Jr. and printer Theophilus Eaton.

Chapter Three probes the numerous financial institutions, policies, and characters that prevented working men from succeeding in their attempts to engage the market revolution as family representatives. Working men viewed their forays into public economic life as part of their conception of household obligations and viewed public economic policy and economic figures in terms of their effect on the family. They subsequently judged monopolies, banks, paper money, debtor's prisons, commodity auctions, bankers, and even dandies as obstacles to their ability to provide domestic necessities. Organized men did not universally detest institutions such as banking, but instead believed they should be free to engage the financial world (on their household's behalf) without restrictions from monopoly interests. Likewise, they believed that if they failed in their attempts at market and financial engagement, they should not be subjected to imprisonment for debt, arguing that the archaic measure punished entire families by locking away husbands and fathers.

Chapter Four examines the possible threat to working men's household maintenance posed by other workers. As skilled craftsmen, organized men believed that they should have been able to support their families with their labor. However, they also understood that employers' attempts to quicken the pace of production by breaking down their skilled craft work into smaller steps that could be handled by less skilled workers would eventually compromise their abilities as breadwinners and domestic providers. So, as the decades progressed, journeymen found themselves increasingly confronted with a group of less formally trained workers who, in their eyes, provided competition and threatened their household obligations. Importantly, organized men saw no one group of other workers as the sole threat to be dealt with and defined against, so skilled journeymen developed a more nuanced and malleable conception of masculine craft skill identity that alternatively allowed them to question the worthiness of bosses, apprentices, female workers, employers, African American workers, foreign workers, unskilled male workers, and prison laborers.

Chapter Five looks at the trade union movement as an attempt to uphold and defend working men's role as family breadwinners. Breadwinning was not a simple issue for organized men. Its complexity stemmed from the dual role husbands and fathers played as providers of material needs and overseers of family governance. Such obligations resulted in a consistent trade union program and rhetoric which stressed the importance of obtaining more money based on family budgetary needs, making arrangements for provisions in the case that the breadwinner was ill, dead, or on strike, and acquiring more leisure time to spend away from work and with the family. Chapter Six probes the Working Men's Party and its attempt to protect households from potential peril by focusing on ideal models of fatherhood and how to best provide for future generations. Scrutinizing Working Men's Party platforms and internal factionalism uncovers a series of debates over agrarian land redistribution, educational policy, Christian worker morality, and the use of birth control that all hinged on differing interpretations of proper fatherhood.

The Conclusion examines the short-lived Loco Foco movement from 1835 to 1837 and the Flour Riot of February 13, 1837 as a case study of the way working men as household actors confronted perceived threats to their domestic survival through a political organization in the early nineteenth century. The Loco Foco story demonstrates how working men's social realities and the notion that they were in danger from economic institutions and policies could result in a labor organization rooted in the protection of household maintenance. During the Flour Riot, for example, a day of chaos followed a number of speeches warning about monopoly banking, high rent, food prices, economic policy, and their relationship to skilled working men's ability to operate as proper fathers and breadwinners (literally).


Rather than trying to unearth a direct causal link between workers' domestic profile and their decision to join the labor movement, these chapters try to reveal how working men's conceptions of household-based masculinity formed a web of context for their organized labor activities. Oramel Bingham's story is again instructive here. In the same 1834 appeal that Bingham reminded fellow cordwainers that their family's fate was in their hands, he ended his statement with a direct message to those artisans who had not yet joined the union. He declared that those individuals who refused to support the strike "be regarded, from this time forward, by his fellow craftsmen, as unworthy the name of man, and a reproach to the craft which he disgraces by his conduct."32 Such a statement was more than a mere rhetorical flourish or empty challenge to non-union cordwainers; it was a specific attempt to buttress the strength of the trade union by connecting household-based masculine obligations with workplace prowess.


Note 1: The New York Journeymen Ladies' Cordwainers' Union was composed entirely of men who made ladies' shoes and organized separately from male cordwainers who made men's shoes. back

Note 2: The Man, June 14, 1834. back

Note 3: National Trades' Union, May 23, 1835. back

Note 4: National Trades' Union, June 13, 1835. back

Note 5: Four years before William Bingham's short life ended, Oramel's wife Elizabeth gave birth to Edwin Forrest Bingham. Edwin was named for the wildly popular actor known for his bulging legs and "muscular" school of acting. back

Note 6: The Union, May 23, 1836. back

Note 7: I agree here with much of Peter Way's summary of antebellum labor movement literature. See Peter Way, "Labour's Love Lost: Observations on the Historiography of Class and Ethnicity in the Nineteenth Century," Journal of American Studies 28, number 1 (1994), 1-22. Those studies arguing for more of a bread and butter view of unionism go back to the work of John R. Commons including his influential John R. Commons et al., History of Labour in the United States (4 vols., New York: The Macmillan company, 1918-1935) and "American Shoemakers, 1648-1895," in Labor and Administration (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1913), 219-266. For more examples of material studies see, Walter Hugins, Jacksonian Democracy and the Working Class: A Study of the New York Workingmen's Movement, 1829-1837 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1960), Edward Pessen, Most Uncommon Jacksonians: The Radical Leaders of the Early Labor Movement (Albany: SUNY Press, 1967), and David Montgomery, "The Working Classes of the Pre-Industrial American City 1780-1830," Labor History 9, number 1 (Winter, 1968), 3-22. None of these works argue that labor activity was purely a battle over cold, hard economics, but they collectively see little evidence of class consciousness in the era of the early republic and instead see journeymen trying to achieve economically to emulate master craftsmen. Those works that focus on more of the ideological argument include Howard Rock, Artisans of the New Republic: The Tradesmen of New York City in the Age of Jefferson (New York: New York University Press, 1979) and most notably, Sean Wilentz, Chants Democratic: New York City & the Rise of the American Working Class, 1788-1850 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984). In one form or another, most labor histories written since Chants Democratic have responded to it, often extending the argument to other cities or later parts of the nineteenth century. See Bruce Laurie, Artisans Into Workers: Labor in Nineteenth Century America (New York: Hill and Wang, 1989) and Ronald Schultz, The Republic of Labor: Philadelphia Artisans and the Politics of Class, 1720-1830 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993). back

Note 8: For recent insight in to how class rather than consciousness should be examined by historians of early America, see Seth Rockman, "The Contours of Class in the Early Republic City," Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas 1, issue 4 (Fall, 2004), 91-107 and Seth Rockman, "Class and the History of Working People in the Early Republic," Journal of the Early Republic 25, number 4 (Winter, 2005), 527-535. See also the entire "Symposium on Class in the Early Republic" in Journal of the Early Republic 25, number 4 (Winter, 2005), 523-564. back

Note 9: Other recent studies of early nineteenth-century workers view the labor movement as part of a larger urban reform or religious impetus. These include Anthony Wallace's Rockdale (1978), an investigation of evangelical religion and labor in Pennsylvania and Teresa Anne Murphy's recent look at the New England Ten Hour Movement, Ten Hours' Labor (1992). Murphy, for example, writes that workers involved in labor activities and workshop politics, "sought access to a world of leisure that would bring time not only for salvation and moral reform but for intellectual development." See Teresa Anne Murphy, Ten Hours' Labor: Religion, Reform, and Gender in Early New England (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992), ix. For other works that pick up on the theme of a merging religious reform and labor reform, see Paul E. Johnson, A Shopkeeper's Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815-1837 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1978), David G. Hackett, The Rude Hand of Innovation: Religion and Social Order in Albany, New York, 1652-1836 (New York: Oxford Press, 1991), Jama Lazerow, Religion and the Working Class in Antebellum America (Washington: Smithsonian Institute Press, 1995), William R. Sutton, Journeymen for Jesus: Evangelical Artisans Confront Capitalism in Jacksonian Baltimore (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998), and William R. Sutton, "Tied to the Whipping Post: New Labor History and Evangelical Artisans in the Early Republic," Labor History 36 (Spring, 1995), 251-81. Some synthetic works on the period, such as Charles Sellers' The Market Revolution (1991), place labor activism within a spectrum of other evangelical, health, and educational reforms. In these studies, economic survival and class formation are not exclusively the impetus for labor organizing, which instead derives from large market forces that sometimes literally attacked the souls of workers. back

Note 10: A number of useful and intriguing works use a gendered analysis of work and labor relations in this period, but they almost exclusively focus on women workers, whether in factories or sweatshops. For an example of this for New England textile factories, see Thomas Dublin, Women at Work: The Transformation of Work and Community in Lowell, Massachusetts, 1826-1860 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1979) on urban sweatshops see Christine Stansell, "The Origins of the Sweatshop: Women and Early Industrialization in New York City," in Michael Frisch and Daniel Walkowitz, eds. Working-Class America (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983). Other works that discuss issues like domestic service have also simplified the gendered role of men in the process, see Hasia Diner, Erin's Daughters in America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983). Some works have used a discussion of masculinity to analyze the workshop, but these studies do not take the workers out of their work arena, see Ava Baron, "An 'Other' Side of Gender Antagonism at Work." in Ava Baron, ed. Work Engendered: Toward a New History of Men, Women, and Work (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991). For a good recent work that explicitly looks at gender and urban reform, see Bruce Dorsey, Reforming Men and Women: Gender in the Antebellum City (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002). Other studies on middling and upper-class men concentrate on masculine economic achievers and, most notably, the cult of the self-made man. Most notably, E. Anthony Rotundo discusses men's role in what he refers to as "the emerging marketplace of competitive trade and democratic politics, the arena of individualism." E. Anthony Rotundo, American Manhood: Transformations in Masculinity From the Revolution to the Modern Era (New York: Basic Books, 1993), 23. See also G.J. Barker-Benfield, The Horrors of the Half-Known Life: Male Attitudes Toward Women and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Harper & Row, 1976), Howard Chudacoff, The Age of the Bachelor: Creating an American Subculture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), Dana Nelson, National Manhood: Capitalist Citizenship and the Imagined Fraternity of White Men (Durham: Duke University Press, 1998), Mark E. Kann, A Republic of Men: the American Founders, Gendered Language, and Patriarchal Politics (New York: New York University Press, 1998)David C. Pugh, Sons of Liberty: The Masculine Mind in Nineteenth-Century America (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1983), and Nathaniel Alexander Frank, "Producing Men: Work, Manhood, and Capitalism in the Early American Republic," Ph.D. diss., Brown University, 2002. Heavily utilizing middling and elite men's private papers or publications, these works overlook relevant sources for analyzing men in trades unions, working men's parties, or anti-monopoly groups. Such scholarship usually addresses working men by consolidating all men into one homogenous early republican male, inspired by the rhetoric of citizenship and the market revolution to participate in a grab for economic and democratic benefits. Skilled journeymen artisans therefore, come across as merely wanting to mimic their employers and emulate their middle-class cultural status. back

Note 11: See Elliot J. Gorn, The Manly Art: Bare-Knuckle Prize Fighting in the Nineteenth Century (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986), Amy S. Greenberg, "Fights/Fires: Violent Firemen in the Nineteenth-Century American City," in Pieter Spierenburg, ed., Men and Violence: Gender, Honor, and Rituals in Modern Europe and America (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1998), Amy S. Greenberg, Cause For Alarm: The Volunteer Fire Department in the Nineteenth-Century City (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), Timothy J. Gilfoyle, City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex, 1790-1920 (New York: Norton Press, 1992), Paul A. Gilje, The Road to Mobocracy: Popular Disorder in New York City, 1763-1834 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987), Michael Kaplan, "The World of the B'Hoys: Urban Violence and the Political Culture of Antebellum New York City, 1825-1860," (Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1996) and Michael Kaplan, "New York City Tavern Violence and the Creation of a Working-Class Male Identity," Journal of the Early Republic 15, number 4 (Winter, 1995), 591-617. Such studies collectively offer useful details about some men's social and leisure activities, especially in urban environs, but they overwhelmingly concentrate on young, single men. While older and married working men did participate in some of these arenas, they were not the driving force behind them. The result of these profiles is that working men's domestic obligations and relationships are obscured from the historiography in favor of a model that sees professionalized middle-class culture on one side and radical and violent plebian culture on the other. Organized working men walked the line between these two camps, not quite as young and reckless as rioters or street toughs and not quite as polished and moralistic as merchants and bankers. back

Note 12: This approach offers a much-needed corrective to earlier portrayals of working households. The most poignant example of this is seen in Christine Stansell's influential City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789-1860 (1986). While women workers contended with the travails of domestic and work-related obligations in her narrative, men are noticeably absent. This is most apparent in Chapter Three, entitled "Women in the Neighborhoods," where men enter domestic space only as a troublesome and often violent presence. These homes were often harsh environments, especially for women. However, men had a larger role in planning and developing the domestic arena then Stansell acknowledges. During her discussion of female unionists and the failure of the New York General Trades' Union to accept women members, there is clear interaction between men and women; however, when the discussion turns to the private arena of the home, men are missing. See Christine Stansell, City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789-1860 (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1986), 41-62. There are some exceptions to this trend, especially Mary Blewett, Men, Women, and Work: Class, Gender, and Protest in the New England Shoe Industry, 1780-1910 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988) and Alan Dawley, Class and Community: The Industrial Revolution in Lynn (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976), but both of these studies focus on household economy in New England and are not applicable to the work that has been done on cities like New York, where class (for male) and gender (for women) analyses have been utilized. back

Note 13: While Konstantin Dierks notes that the notion of separate spheres has been overthrown and is little but a "straw man," the challenges to this model have come from studies about middle-class men's activities in the home or women's activities outside the home. There have not been similar investigations into early republican working men's household lives. See Konstantin Dierks, "Men's History, Gender History, or Cultural History?," Gender and History 14, number 1 (April, 2002), 148. back

Note 14: There have been some recent studies of the relationship between work and men's role in the nineteenth century family, but they concentrate on middle-class fathers, see Shawn Johansen, Family Men: Middle-Class Fatherhood in Early Industrializing America (New York: Routledge Press, 2001) and Stephen Frank, Life With Father: Parenthood and Masculinity in the Nineteenth-Century American North (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1998). Robert L. Griswold, Fatherhood in America: A History (New York: Basic Books, 1993) does include working men and African-Americans, but only focuses on the years between 1880-1920. back

Note 15: Anna Clark, The Struggle for the Breeches: Gender and the Making of the British Working Class (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 1. Both Clark's work and Elizabeth Faue's Community of Suffering and Struggle: Women, Men, and the Labor Movement in Minneapolis, 1915-1945 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991) aided in the creation of this methodology. While these books examine mid-nineteenth-century England and early twentieth-century Minneapolis, respectively, they both articulate the importance of male- and female-gendered identity to the formation of labor activism. Clark stresses the differences in varieties of class consciousness that developed between northern England with its textile workers equally made up of men and women and London where male artisans greatly outnumbered female workers. Faue argues that the rhetorical and iconographic male image that 1930s industrial unions publicly developed colored the effectiveness and extent of their movement. Another example of this can be seen in Lisa A. Lindsay, "Domesticity and Difference: Male Breadwinners, Working Women, and Colonial Citizenship in the 1945 Nigerian General Strike," American Historical Review 104, number 3 (June, 1999), 783-812. back

Note 16: Martin Bruegel also cogently demonstrates the need to blend social histories and cultural analysis with a discussion of early republican economic development. See, Martin Bruegel, Farm, Shop, Landing: The Rise of a Market Society in the Hudson Valley, 1780-1860 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002). back

Note 17: An example of this type of linguistic labor study is Gareth Stedman Jones' Languages of Class, which analyzes language not just the outward expression of an experience but as a product with an interest and identification all of its own. So, for Jones, investigating a movement like Chartism does not entail matching rhetoric to events, but rather mapping an historical narrative of radical language and investigating how it relates to or conflicts with other language systems. Other examples include Stephen Rice's Minding the Machine, which analyzes popular discourse about mechanization and its place in the formation of class in antebellum America and Gregory Kaster's article "Labour's True Man," which examines gendered language and the contest over manly language in the nineteenth century labor movement. See Gareth Stedman Jones, Languages of Class: Studies in English Working Class History, 1832-1982 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983), Stephen P. Rice, Minding the Machine: Languages of Class in Early Industrial America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), and Gregory L. Kaster, "Labour's True Man: Organised Workingmen and the Language of Manliness in the USA, 1827-1877," Gender and History 13, number 1, (April, 2001), 24-64. back

Note 18: The term "light-reading articles" comes from an editorial in The Man that used the term to signify non-political or labor material. The Man, April 3, 1834. back

Note 19: Taylor's plays are entitled: False Appearances, or, A Hit on the Dandies a Farce in Three Acts; Things as They Will Be, or, All Barkers Are Not Biters a Farce in Three Acts; and The Banker, or, Things as They Have Been! a Farce in Three Acts. All three of these plays were published in 1819 and are including as part of Early American Imprints, Second Series. There is no solid evidence that they were ever performed and they may have been only sold as pamphlets. See also Adam Burt, Journeymen Weaving: A Poem (New York: Press of the Old Countryman, 1831). The only extant copy of Strike and Steady's dialogue is held at the University of Chicago library. back

Note 20: One copy of the September 10, 1830 issue of this newspaper is extant and held at the Huntington Library. back

Note 21: In 1830, New York City's population was 202,589, Baltimore's population was second in the nation at 80,620, and Philadelphia's was 80,462. In 1800, 60,489 people lived in New York City and it grew to 312,710 by 1840. By 1835, the number of foreign-born residents of the city was over 50,000. For census statistics, see Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research. Study 00003: Historical Demographic, Economic, and Social Data: U.S., 1790-1970 (Anne Arbor: ICPSR, 1998). back

Note 22: There is a vast literature on the growth of New York's economy in these years. For some good examples, see: Robert Greenhalgh Albion, The Rise of the New York Port, 1815-1860 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1939), David T. Gilchrist ed., The Growth of the Seaport Cities, 1790-1825 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1967), Carol Sheriff, The Artificial River: The Erie Canal and the Paradox of Progress, 1817-1862 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1996), and L. Ray Gunn, The Decline of Authority: Public Economic Policy and Political Development in New York State, 1800-1860 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988). back

Note 23: The Man, April 25, 1834. In 1836, the leading daily penny paper, The Sun, had a circulation over 25,000 by itself, see Andie Tucher, Froth and Scum: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and the Ax Murder in America's First Mass Medium (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994), 7. back

Note 24: David M. Henkin, City Reading: Written Words and Public Spaces in Antebellum New York (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998). back

Note 25: The first true pro-artisan paper in America was The Independent Mechanic, published by Joseph Harmer in New York from 1811-1812. The Working Man's Advocate was a successful weekly paper published by George Henry Evans that ran under varied titles from the late 1820s until the 1840s. The Man was also published by Evans, but ran as a daily paper for most of 1834 and 1835. The National Trades' Union ran as a weekly from 1834 to 1836. Other pro-labor papers appeared during these years including The Union, which ran for only about six weeks and The Democrat, a daily that ran for about six months in 1836. back

Note 26: Philadelphia is the only city that matched New York for labor upheaval in these years. See Bruce Laurie, Working People of Philadelphia, 1800-1850 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1980) and Ronald Schultz, The Republic of Labor (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993). back

Note 27: For example, see The Eclectic Observer and Working People's Advocate, (Wheeling VA), Mechanics' Free Press, (Philadelphia), Farmers', Mechanics', and Workingmen's Advocate, (Albany, NY), and The American Manufacturer, (Pittsburgh). back

Note 28: For more detailed discussions of this process around the turn of the century, see Howard B. Rock, Artisans of the New Republic: The Tradesmen of New York City in the Age of Jefferson (New York: New York University Press, 1979). back

Note 29: For example, the New York Cordwainers' Benefit Society formed in 1805. For information on the Cordwainers' conspiracy trial see Paul A. Gilje, The Road to Mobocracy: Popular Disorder in New York City, 1763-1834 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987), Marjorie S. Turner, The Early American Labor Conspiracy Cases, Their Place in Labor Law; A Reinterpretation (San Diego: San Diego State College Press, 1967), Leonard Levy, The Law of the Commonwealth and Chief Justice Shaw (New York: Oxford University Press, 1957), Richard B. Morris, "Criminal Conspiracy and Early Labor Combinations." Political Science Quarterly, 52, (1937), Ian M. G. Quimby, "The Cordwainers' Protest: A Crisis in American Labor Relations." Winterthur Portfolio, 3, (1967), and Sean Wilentz, "Conspiracy, Power, and the Early Labor Movement: The People vs. James Melvin, et. al., 1811." Labor History, 24, number 4 (Fall, 1983), 572-579. back

Note 30: The history of masculinity has slowly emerged as a subfield over the last couple of decades as scholars sought to apply some of the methods used by women's historians to male subjects. Following Joan Scott by utilizing gender as a category of analysis, masculinity studies generally try to understand the development and application of masculine identity rather than just telling stories about men. See Joan Scott's influential Gender and the Politics of History (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routlegde Press, 1990), Rotundo, American Manhood, Michael S. Kimmel, Manhood in America: A Cultural History (New York: Free Press, 1996), R. W. Connell, Masculinities (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), and R. W. Connell, Gender and Power: Society, the Person and Sexual Politics (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987). However, numerous review articles remain concerned that masculinity studies have moved too far away from women's studies, giving into the temptation of "occluding women and downplaying men's power over women" and falling into what one critic has termed "phallocriticism." See Toby L. Ditz, "The New Men's History and the Peculiar Absence of Gendered Power: Some Remedies From Early American Gender History," Gender & History 16, No. 1 (April 2004), 2 and Bryce Traister, "American Viagra: The Rise of American Masculinity Studies," American Quarterly 52, No. 2 (June 2000), 276. Other critics cite the tendency of men's studies to argue that all men at all times in history seem to be in crisis, resulting in a constant process where everything in American culture causes an undifferentiated reshaping of masculinity. On the larger debate about the proper relationship between women's studies and men's studies, see the roundtable discussion in the spring 2000 issue of The Journal of Men's Studies, especially articles by Mark E. Kann, Mark J. Justad, and Vicki L. Sommer. Judith A. Allen argues that men's and women's studies are at different points in their development and should not be compared for their richness of their theoretical analysis. See Judith A. Allen, "Historians on Masculinity, Sexual Boundaries, and Manhood," Radical History Review 82 (Winter 2002), 191-207. While I do not tend to fully support either of these criticisms, I do agree with Konstantin Dierks that more scholarship is needed that shows how masculinity affects and creates new culture rather than just how culture affects and creates new types of masculinity. See Dierks, "Men's History, Gender History, or Cultural History?" On the issue of power and masculinity see the strong argument made by Ditz and Chapter four in Shawn Johansen, Family Men. back

Note 31: See Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), Christopher Clark, The Roots of Rural Capitalism: Western Massachusetts, 1780-1860 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990) and "Household Economy, Market Exchange, and the Rise of Capitalism in the Connecticut River Valley, 1800-1860," Journal of Social History 13, (1979), 169-189, Michael Merrill, "Putting 'Capitalism' in Its Place: A Review of Recent Literature," William and Mary Quarterly 52, number 2, (April, 1995), 315-326, and "Cash Is Good to Eat: Self-Sufficiency and Exchange in the Rural Economy of the United States," Radical History Review 4, (1977), 42-71, Paul E. Johnson, "The Market Revolution," in Mary K Cayton, Elliot J. Gorn, and Peter W. Williams, eds., Encyclopedia of American Social History (New York: Scribner Brothers, 1993), 545-560, and Sean Wilentz, "Society, Politics, and the Market Revolution, 1815-1848," in Eric Foner, ed., The New American History (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990), 51-71 and "On Class and Politics in Jacksonian America," Reviews in American History 10, issue 4, (December, 1982), 45-63. See also the articles in Melvyn Stokes and Stephen Conway eds., The Market Revolution in America: Social, Political, and Religious Expressions, 1800-1880 (Charlottesville, University Press of Virginia, 1996). back

Note 32: The Man, June 14, 1834. back