The Dahlonega, Georgia US mint in the 1850s
In 1856, agriculture was important everywhere in the country and dominated the economy of the South. Cotton plantations based on slave labor provided half the dollar value of US exports. Revisit these plantations and their aftermath from the perspective of an online 10-minute film made in 1950, The Plantation System in Southern Life. (Contrast the movie with the depiction of US cotton cultivation during slavery here, including the testimony of runaway Georgia slave John Brown.) Then see what a small Georgia freehold farm looked like 64 years ago (before mechanization and electrification) - often little changed from life in the 19th century - via an online 11-minute film from 1942, Henry Browne, Farmer.
|Symbol employed||Number||Statistic||Work rate|
|UrbanPop||0||Population, urban [pop 2500+]|
|RrlFree||2810||Population, rural free (all ages)|
|RrlSlaves||229||Population, rural slave (all ages)|
|RrAgPopM15||249||Population, M 10-15 [free]|
|RrAgPopM16||696||Population, M 16+ [free]|
|RrAgPopF15||221||Population, F 10-15 [free]|
|RrAgPopF16||724||Population, F 16+ [free]|
|RrAgPpMS10||71||Population, M 10+ slave|
|RrAgPpFS10||79||Population, F 10+ slave|
|RrAgLFM15||107||Ag workers, M 10-15 [free]||43%|
|RrAgLFM16||507||Ag workers, M 16+ [free]||72.92%|
|RrAgLFF15||12||Ag workers, F 10-15 [free]||05.31%|
|RrAgLFF16||32||Ag workers, F 16+ [free]||04.4%|
|RrAgLFMS10||53||Ag workers, M 10+ slave||74%|
|RrAgLFFS10||58||Ag workers, F 10+ slave||74%|
In 1856, the products of [manufactures, mining and the mechanic arts]
in Massachusetts had increased to something over $288,000,000, a sum more
than twice the value of the entire cotton crop of all the Southern States!
- The Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It
by Hinton Rowan Helper, of North Carolina (1857)
Bicentennial Edition: Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times
to 1970 (US Dept. of Commerce, 1975).
the US exported
Tooke and Newmarch, in their book "A History of Prices From 1792 to 1856", publish extracts from a report issued by the City Chamberlain of Glasgow in 1856. This records that in 1856 wages of skilled labor in the building trades (masons, carpenters, and joiners) increased 20 per cent from the level of 1850-1, and wages of unskilled labor 48 per cent in the same period. He attributes this principally to increased production in consequence of improvements in machinery.
It must also be borne in mind, he adds, that weavers and spinners worked 69 hours per week in 1841 and only 60 hours in 1851-6, and hence received in 1851-6 more money for less labor. He also notes at another point that in 1850: The number of hours per week worked by masons, carpenters and other artisans employed in the building trades was 60 hours, or six days of 10 hours each, with a deduction of 1½ hours for meals. Since 1853, the weekly time has been reduced to 57 hours.
The Stonemasons Society in Sydney [Australia] issued an ultimatum to employers on 18 August 1855, that after six months masons would only work an eight-hour day... Although opposed by employers, a two week strike on the construction of Tooths Brewery on Parramatta Road proved effective, and stonemasons won an eight-hour day by early March 1856, but with a reduction in wages to match.
John Davis, a Whig U.S. senator 1835-1841 and 1845-1853, was a strong opponent of the administrations of Jackson and Van Buren, and took a conspicuous part in the debates as an advocate of protection for American industry, replying to the free trade arguments of southern statesmen in speeches [that] were considered extremely clear expositions of the protective theories. A declaration in one of his speeches, that James Buchanan was in favor of reducing the wages of American workingmen to ten cents a day, was the origin of the epithet 'Ten Cent Jimmy'... - source
From their founding in the 1850's, until after the Great Depression, Republicans tended to defend the protectionist sentiments inaugurated by Alexander Hamilton and common among Whigs. Today the large bulk of both Democratic and Republican leaders tend to favor free trade, while minorities in both groups lean more toward protectionism. An extreme modern attack on protectionism and its 19th century acoltyes is available here.