A Deeper Look

My task this week was to do an in depth reading of one of the sources I’ve found.

Rudolph, Frederick. 1947. “Chinamen in Yankeedom: Anti-Unionism in Massachusetts in 1870.” The American Historical Review 1-29.

Rudolph begins by describing North Adams’ rise as an industrial town, then gives a general biography of Calvin T. Sampson, a shoe factory owner and businessman. During the Civil War, a better sewing machine made skilled craftsmen unessential in the factories, which led to the rise of the Knights of St. Crispin, a workers union. The Crispins of North Adams struck against Sampson for better wages, an eight hour day, and better opportunities for the skilled craftsmen. Sampson tried again and again to break the strike by ordinary means, but was foiled, and he eventually hired 75 Chinese workers from the west coast in June of 1870. The general attitude of the North Adams people was curiosity and suspicious acceptance of the Chinese (who kept themselves isolated for the most part), while directing their anger towards Sampson. Sampson profited from the cheap and newly trained immigrant labor. The Crispins of North Adams formed their own co-operative shoe factory in response. Rudolph ends by running through the different political parties viewpoints on Chinese labor at the time, the eventually end of the Crispins, and some reverberations Sampson’s Chinese strike breakers had caused. Rudolph’s writing is clear and would be understandable for a layman. While this article does not mention the Irish immigrants of North Adams directly, there were many Irish members of St. Crispin and Irish factory workers, so this event would have effected some of the Irish population of North Adams. This was a significant event in North Adams’ economic and labor history, of which the Irish are also a significant part of.

One thought on “A Deeper Look

  1. Good synopsis Susannah — I am led to ask some questions by the contents of your review. 1. You suggest that the Knight of St. Crispin had Irish among their number — would they have been migrants, second generation? Do you have any information on the hiring of the Chinese workers? On relations between them and townspeople? You seem to imply that they were eventually replaced…where did they go? For that matter where did the Irish come from specifically and what happened to them?

    This article seems a great starting place.

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