‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 8.’ by a Correspondent in New York (8 April, 1882)

The following is part of a series of articles on the condition of the United States of America for working class Scottish immigrants. One of the core tenants of The People’s Journal was to encourage self-improvement for the working classes. For these reason the paper would regularly promote emigration and provide news  and publish correspondence from the major destination of Scots in the period (the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Here the discussion focuses on employment.

Employment Agencies—How to Purchase Land—Best States to Settle In.

Before referring to the principal States which are most recommended to those who follow agricultural industry, allow me to warn all intending emigrants, of what ever class or sex, not to be led away be advertisements, whether in newspapers or otherwise, inviting there to patronise what are called “intelligence offices” or “employment agencies.” The advertisement generally reads something like this—“All unemployed help gladly assisted in obtaining employment. Call from 10 to 2. Merchants Mutual, 42 Fourth Avenue.” There are a great many such offices in large cities here. I have no doubt some of them are honest enough, but the difficulty is in knowing which is which.

Again there is another form of getting employment when emigrants (or greenhorns as they are called) land here; it is termed “The Castle Garden Labour Bureau.” I believe this Bureau is an honest affair. But I think it is far better for the emigrants, both male and female, to bring, if they can, a little money with them, so that they can go to any place where they may have relations or acquaintances, or where they have some knowledge that some particular State or place has more inducements than others for them. The following is a summary of the number of emigrants who were provided with work by the Labour Bureau last year, with the wages paid to farm hands and female servants:—

Males. Females.
Irish, 11,131 8,863
German, 23,812 1,125
Scandinavians, 812 273
Russians and Poles, 912 21
Swiss, 1,070 166
Hungarians and Bohemians, 585 147
English, Scotch, and Welsh, 522 302
French, 106 28
Hollanders, 58 9
Italians, 32 5
Arabs, 3
Turks, 3 1
Canadians, 10
Armenians, 2

The average monthly wages paid to farm labourers and female servants for whom work was procured, according to the statistics of the Labour Bureau, was as follows:— Continue reading “‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 8.’ by a Correspondent in New York (8 April, 1882)”

‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 7’ by a Correspondent in New York (1 April, 1882)

The following is part of a series of articles on the condition of the United States of America for working class Scottish immigrants. One of the core tenants of The People’s Journal was to encourage self-improvement for the working classes. For these reason the paper would regularly promote emigration and provide news  and publish correspondence from the major destination of Scots in the period (the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Here the discussion focuses on literature and a visit to Niagara falls.

Literature—Extravagance—Amusements—

Barnum’s Show—Visit to Niagara

                If there is one thing above another in which you far excel the Yankees it is in literature. We have two or three good magazines and a few good newspapers, but, generally speaking, the American press is very frivolous. The one half is taken up with politics, and the other half with anything that is horrible, sensational, or laughable. But what must I say in speaking of periodicals? All I have seen are of the Jack Sheppard and Claude Duval kind. But such stuff pleases the readers, and, I suppose, pays the publishers. But the literature of America wants the backbone of the literature of Great Britain. But we must not lay all this to the blame of Brother Jonathan himself. We must remember the heterogeneous mass of people there are in this country. The cosmopolitan character of nationalities which are represented in America may be gathered from the fact that over fifty different kinds, embracing every land and clime in Europe—Asia, Africa, and Australasia—landed in New York last year. So that in printing matter there are lots of different tastes to be considered.

There is one class besides the Chinese who are held in low estimation in America—viz., the poor darkie. As far as I have ever seen there is nothing but his colour (a thing he cannot help) to mark him out as not being in most respects the equal of his brother of the North. Not long ago ta conductor of a street car was fined for turning one out of his car merely because his skin was black, and there is a manager of a theatre going to appear as defendant in a case where he turned one out of his place of amusement. There was a Yankee who was going a-fishing and took a young ebony along with him. On crossing a very dangerous ferry the young darkie fell overboard. The Yank instantly sprang after him. Both were nearly drowned before they were got on board the boat again, and the rest of the white passengers began to remonstrate with the white man for being so foolish as to risk his life for a negro. He replied—“I didn’t care a cuss for the darned black whelp, but he had all the bait in his pocket.

I think it was Geordie the Third that said, “Sailors earned their money like horses and spent it like asses.” I think this may apply very well to Americans generally, for they win good wages by working hard, and they are not slow in spending them. It is quite a common thing for a young man to take his sweetheart or a married man to take his wife out on Sunday in a vehicle and drive her all round the town, and in winter the wife or sweetheart thinks herself slighted if she is not taken out sleigh riding. Why, this very day (second day of the year) I saw dozens and dozens of working men with their wives and sweethearts sleigh riding, and very expensive riding it is too. It is a very poor working man’s house that has not either an organ or piano in it, and almost every one has got a sewing machine. Then as to theatres, circuses, wild beast shows, and such like, they must be patronised. Some of these shows are of great magnitude, and can only pay in large places, but this does not hinder the people who live in smaller places from seeing them, for they will lose a day’s wages, pay railway fare, and all incidental expenses to see them. The great showman Barnum consolidated with another large show last year, and went round the country. Among other large places he visited Syracuse. At that time I was working 27 miles off, but the workmen where I was resolved to take a day and go to see the show, and I was as stupid as to follow suit. This cost each of us two and a half dollars for wages, one half dollar for railway fare (special train for the occasion), one half dollar for admission to the show, one half dollar for dinner and tea—total, four dollars or sixteen shillings and eightpence to see a circus and wild beast show. I have said that the shows are of great size here. On that occasion there were fifteen thousand people under one canvas roof. They performed in three rings at the same time. To show the extent of their menagerie they had twenty-one elephants, one of them a baby a few months old. Everything belonging to this exhibition was on the same scale. This beats your Wombwell of your Newsome, doesn’t it? Continue reading “‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 7’ by a Correspondent in New York (1 April, 1882)”

‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 6.’ by a Correspondent in New York (11 March, 1882)

The following is part of a series of articles on the condition of the United States of America for working class Scottish immigrants. One of the core tenants of The People’s Journal was to encourage self-improvement for the working classes. For these reason the paper would regularly promote emigration and provide news  and publish correspondence from the major destination of Scots in the period (the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Here the discussion focuses on murders, executions, and funerals.

Murders, Executions, and Funerals.

                On Friday of last week there were no fewer than seven executions in different States—three of them coloured men and four whites. One of the latter has been eighteen months in jail, and received sentence of death three times for the same crime. These seven were all murderers—two of them were executed at St Louis, State of Missouri, and in that State two men are under sentence of death. Another was hung a week ago, and twenty-seven are awaiting trial for murder. The newspapers here give graphic, but disgusting, accounts of executions. Here are a few extracts given us of one that took place in New Jersey last week. We are told on the morning of the execution the culprit several times walked to the window of the jail, and looked out upon the crowd which began to gather in the muddy streets. It was a gaping, idle crowd of slatternly women, beer-soaked men, and a large number of children. In one obscure corner of the street was an old woman kneeling and praying with spirit—swaying her body back and forth, mumbling over prayers for the murderer. She remained in her praying attitude for upwards of an hour regardless of the cold rain which was falling. Then we are told of how, when the condemned man was brought out to the gallows, one of the jailers who had hold of his arms had over-stimulated himself for the ordeal, and began to show signs of toppling over, and had to let go his hold of the prisoner. Next, of how, when this poor wretch was hurled into eternity, of the bending of the knees, twitching of the fingers, contortions of the limbs and body; of how the doctors immediately seized his wrists,, and kept correct record of the dying man’s pulse until his heart cease to beat; of how when cut down the noose of the rope had to be cut, as it was so deeply imbedded in his muscular neck, and of the face turning black and livid, and other disgusting details. One would think we ought to have had our morbid curiosity fully gratified by this account of the last moments of this felon; but not so, for in two days after we read of how the body was taken to an undertaker’s shop, where a motley throng was assembled. It rained incessantly, but the crowd was not to be deterred from seeing the last act of this disgraceful spectacle played out. The pavement in front of the shop was blocked, and the crowd filled the roadway in a solid phalanx extending twenty or thirty yards up and down the street. The crowd was not made up of loafers, but of well-dressed, respectable-looking people, and there were quite as many women to be seen around as men. Two policemen stood guard at the door. They had orders not to admit any boy or girl under eighteen years of age. It is only charitable to suppose that those guardians of the peace were but poor judges of age, as droves of young girls of not more than fifteen or sixteen gained admission, and gazed curiously, though quite unconcernedly, on the ashen face of the dead man. Fathers and mothers, to their shame be it said, brought children of tender years to see the dead felon, with his unhappy wife and worse than fatherless children weeping and wailing around the head of the coffin. The face and chest of the dead were exposed to view, a section of the lid of the coffin being removed for that purpose. The body was attired in a black suit, and a white collar and necktie concealed the ugly mark left by the rope upon the neck. The widow, with her boy and girl children, sat at the head of the coffin moaning and sobbing piteously while the curious throng filed around the dead man, peering curiously at the ghastly face as they paused a moment or so in passing by.

When the funeral rites had been concluded, the clergyman called upon all those present to with draw save the widow and her children, that, free from observation, they might take a last look at the dead husband and father. The scene that ensued was very painful. The poor women broke down utterly, and had to be led away by her friends, while the little lad, as he kissed the cold cheek of his dead father, wailed piteously, “Oh, my father; oh, my father.” On the arrival of the funeral cortege at the burying-ground, notwithstanding the heavy rain and the fact that the ways were ankle deep in mud, the road was lined five or six deep with men, women, and children, who had been waiting for hours to see the body of the murderer carried to its last resting-place. When the coffin was removed from the hearse a disgraceful scene ensued. A crowd of some hundreds of men and women, many of the latter carrying babes in their arms, rushed helter-skelter over newly-made graves, kicking aside, as they strode recklessly over, planted flowers placed by loving hands over the graves of their beloved ones, and even when the coffin was lowered into the grave they hooted and yelled, and the boys raced around the grave as though the occasion was the visit of a circus, instead of the burial of a fellow creature. The grave was speedily filled up, the crowd rapidly dispersed, and within five minutes only two or three morbidly curious people, who had arrived late upon the scene, stood around the spot beneath which lay the dead murderer in his gaudy coffin with its inscription—“Martin Kankowsky, died January 6, 1882, aged 35 years.” Continue reading “‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 6.’ by a Correspondent in New York (11 March, 1882)”

‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 5.’ by a Correspondent in New York (4 March, 1882)

The following is part of a series of articles on the condition of the United States of America for working class Scottish immigrants. One of the core tenants of The People’s Journal was to encourage self-improvement for the working classes. For these reason the paper would regularly promote emigration and provide news  and publish correspondence from the major destination of Scots in the period (the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Here the discussion focuses on women in America and the culture of marriage and divorce.

“There is no want of public speakers amongst them. In what is called the Free Methodist Church there are any amount of orators. The minister of the congregation will speak for about half-an-hour. Then he leaves it to his flock to gay the rest. He no sooner sits down than one of the sisters gets up and rattles on until from the sheer want of breath (not of words) she sinks exhausted into her seat. She no sooner faints than up pops another sister and repeats the dose, and so on. A few Sundays ago I, along with some friends, went to a Temperance meeting to hear a celebrated sister, and I can assure you she was “boss” of that meeting.”

American “Ladies” and Divorces.

To the Editor of the People’s Journal.

                Sir,—I want to tell you now what I think of the women folk of this country. From the time the feminine gender of America can lisp the name of “pa” or “ma” they begin to learn to be pert, forward, impudent, and cute, with plenty of gab. It is said that the animals we get the hams from grow ugly as they grow old, and, so far as salt tongue is concerned, the same can be said about the American ladies, By-the-by, there are no women here; they are all ladies. In their homes they are, generally speaking, slovenly-looking, going about their household work dressed like a broom-handle with a mutch and nicht gown on. Out shopping, they are dressed from top to toe with Gainsborough hats, fur-trimmed dolmans, Berlin cloaks, neal [?] sacques, ulsterettes, buttoned-up kid boots, white gauntlets, lace veils, and a large display of candlestick-gold jewellery. There is no want of public speakers amongst them. In what is called the Free Methodist Church there are any amount of orators. The minister of the congregation will speak for about half-an-hour. Then he leaves it to his flock to gay the rest. He no sooner sits down than one of the sisters gets up and rattles on until from the sheer want of breath (not of words) she sinks exhausted into her seat. She no sooner faints than up pops another sister and repeats the dose, and so on. A few Sundays ago I, along with some friends, went to a Temperance meeting to hear a celebrated sister, and I can assure you she was “boss” of that meeting. She both started and ended the meeting herself. Some brothers tried to get in a few words, but it was no use. They would have required a sharp knife to “whyte” their words, and then watched for a chance to get them in edgeways. Here is an anecdote which illustrates their cuteness. A certain gentleman went home one night rather late and rather unsteady. His wife was in bed, and he, not wanting to let her know that he had been looking on the wine when it was red, quietly slipped off his clothes and as quietly slipped into bed and on purpose not to let her find any perfume he might have, he turned his back to her. She lay very quiet for a few minutes, but she could stand it no longer. So she bawls aloud—“John, you need not try to fool me, for you are drunk through and through.

I am sorry to say that I do not think the moral status of the people here is so high as that of the old country, more especially among married people. It is quite a common thing to hear of a married man eloping with another man’s wife or vice versa, or some deviation from rectitude regarding the marriage vows. The divorce courts are well patronised institutions here, so much so that lawyers advertise through the press where and when people will get divorces consummated on the shortest notice and the least expense. The New York Herald, one of the most respectable newspapers in America, is lying before me, and in it are no less than six advertisements from lawyers on this matter. Here is a copy of one which is a facsimile of the others. “Absolute divorces, quietly and speedily, without publicity—desertion, drunkenness, incompatibility, every known cause. Pay when divorced. Detectives furnished, always successful,—F.K., lawyer, 317 Broadway, New York.” AS I have said, there are six such advertisements in one newspaper, and I don’t think it says much for the honour of these lawyers to hold out such inducements for people to pluck themselves apart—those whom a higher Power hath united together. I hope your readers will not think that I have the least idea that this opinion applies to the ladies of America as a rule. God forbid. I believe there are plenty of decent, moral women in this country as well as in ever other; but what I do say is, that a great many irregularities go on here both by males and females. We have little need for this sin amongst us, for there is plenty of crime here without it. Continue reading “‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 5.’ by a Correspondent in New York (4 March, 1882)”

‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 4.’ by a Correspondent in New York (18 February, 1882)

The following is part of a series of articles on the condition of the United States of America for working class Scottish immigrants. One of the core tenants of The People’s Journal was to encourage self-improvement for the working classes. For these reason the paper would regularly promote emigration and provide news  and publish correspondence from the major destination of Scots in the period (the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Here the discussion focuses on transportation and church fundraising.

Canal Boats, Bazaars, and Tram Cars.

To the Editor of the People’s Journal.

                Sir,—In your Journal of December 17 I read a letter signed “Christian Democrat,” in which he draws a deplorable picture from a deplorable book entitled “Canal Adventures by Moonlight,” written by a Fellow of the Society of Arts with deplorable boots on, in which it appears that canal life in England is one of the most brutalising, immoral, and debasing occupations that can be imagined. If the state of canalers in England is one-tenth as bad as Mr Smith and “Christian Democrat” have painted it I wish them Godspeed in trying to remedy it. I have never been among canalers in England, but I have been among them here, both by moonlight and sunlight, and there must be a marked difference betwixt them here and in England. The canal trade in the State of New York is one of great importance in the summer time. The Superintendent of Canals issues orders every year when the canals are to be opened and when shut for traffic. This is on account of the frost. Last year they opened on the 10th of May and closed on the 15th of December. The year before, the frost came on before closing time, and all the boats that ply between New York and Buffalo—500 miles—were all frozen in in one night, and had to remain wherever they were until the spring of the year came to relieve them. The boats are of large dimensions, carrying large freights of coal, timber, wheat, iron, &c. They have got stables for their horses or mules (of which there are a great many in canal trade) on board at the forward part of the boat. There are always two on board and two on the bank towing the boat. They are relieved along with the drivers (of whom there are two) every six hours. Night and day, Sabbath and Saturday, there are generally two men on board, besides the captain, his wife, and family. There is a sleeping cabin about the middle of the boat for these men along with the drivers. The after-cabin is for the captain and family. The captain’s wife is cook, and all hands mess together in this cabin, which, as a rule, is kept scrupulously neat and clean, the children neat and tidy, and, although the life is necessarily a rough one, yet they seem to be well pleased with the lot assigned them.

“But how it comes, I never kenn’d yet,

They’re maistly wonderfu’ contented;

And [illegible] and clever hizzies

Are bred in sic a way as this is”

They are very hospitable, and will seldom refuse you a ride in their boat, as they term it, or a share in the good things in the cabin at dinner or supper time. In winter they try to get to where they belong to, and then they use their teams in drawing ice from the rivers to the ice houses, or drawing wood, or any other jobs they can get. I got acquainted with lots of them last winter, and found them good decent citizens. All the canals around large cities are used for skating rinks and ponds during winter.

The mode of conducting church fairs or bazaars, is as follows:—Some one having an interest in the bazaar makes a presentation of a whip, a pair of boots, a sewing machine, an easy chair, or any such article, then the Committee choose two prominent members of the church who have a great deal of influence with people both outside of and belonging to the church. These two are candidates to win the article, and whoever gets most votes gets the article. But the votes are sold at 5 cents each. Each candidate of course has his friends, and each party to show their respect for their friends rally round their partisans by buying votes. Any one can buy as many as he chooses. When I was working in the town of Owego, there was a church fair held there. An easy chair, probably costing 10 or 15 dollars, was the article voted for. The Committee chose two foremen of large moulding shops, and prominent members of the church, as candidates. The voting was most keen, as all the men belonging to the two different foundries went into the contest with great gusto. The result was that the net proceeds amounted to nearly 600 dollars. If the church or any other bazaar partisans in Dundee have not tried this plan yet, I would advise them the next out [?] have anything to do with to go and do likewise. [?] There is another way practised here in getting church funds augmented, viz., by disposing of church seats by public auction. In Plymouth Church (Henry Ward Beecher’s) the seats were sold recently. We are told that Mr Beecher took no part in the proceedings after introducing the auctioneer. The terms of the sale were:—“That the choice of all seats in the house was offered without reservation to previous occupants to the highest bidder. No bids accepted from those in arrears. The pews and seats to be rented with the understanding that if not occupied at least ten minutes before the commencement of services, they might be assigned to strangers. All regular attendants at the church are expected to rent sittings in order that the large current expenses may be shared by the whole congregation.” Last year the first choice for a pew was sold for 700 dollars, the next for 675 dollars, and so on. These two first bidders actually paid £2 16s and £2 14s respectively for every Sabbath in the year for a pew in the church. O Christianity! Christianity! what fanaticism is carried on in they name! This year they are cheaper, and I think your readers will agree with me in thinking that there was room for a reduction. The great Dr Talmage has commenced the same plan this year. The largest Presbyterian Church in Rochester and many others through the country are started on the same footing. It is a pity that church-going emigrants cannot bring their church pews along with them. Continue reading “‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 4.’ by a Correspondent in New York (18 February, 1882)”

‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 3.’ by a Correspondent in New York (28 January, 1882)

The following is part of a series of articles on the condition of the United States of America for working class Scottish immigrants. One of the core tenants of The People’s Journal was to encourage self-improvement for the working classes. For these reason the paper would regularly promote emigration and provide news  and publish correspondence from the major destination of Scots in the period (the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). This piece continues the discussion from the previous articles on work and wages.

Trade and Wages.

To the Editor of the People’s Journal.

Sir,—The tailor trade is quite different here from what it is at home. The tailors are something like the shoemakers, their work is cut up in sections, so to speak; for there are coat hands, vest hands, and pant or trouser hands. These are all made in large factories. But in speaking of tailoring we ought to call them tailoresses, as a great many women and girls work at the tailor trade here. A cutter has good wages. The women make from four to eight dollars per week, according to their experience and ability. Some women have apprentices, and with five or six of them the employer will make 100 vests per week. She will receive on an average for them forty cents each, then making forty dollars per week, but of course she has her girls to pay off this. The girls receive on an average for them forty cents each, thus making forty dollars per week, but of course she has her girls to pay off this. The girls receive from one dollar per week (beginners). Those who have been some time at the business will receive four, five, or six dollars per week, according to ability. When a girl can make a vest without any more teaching she generally takes home her work where she has a machine; then she gets full value of her work.

There is another industry here at which young women make good wages, viz., cigar and cigarette making. One of the largest tobacco manufactories in the United States of America is that in Rochester. They employ some hundred of girls of all ages making cigars and cigarettes. This is all done by piece work, their wages ranging from four to eight dollars per week, according to ability.

As for mill and factory operatives, this is not so good a locality as other places some hundreds of miles east of this. There is one large cotton factory here in which the girls make from six to eight dollars per week. In a small place about one hundred miles form this, where I was working last year, there is a factory for the fabrication of woollen and cotton goods which employs about eight hundred women, and four hundred men and boys. The ages of the female workers range from seven years up to seventy. Their wages are from eight to thirty dollars per month. They are only paid once a month. The first five days of the week they work from half-past six A.M. to half-past six P.M., with an hour to dinner at twelve o’clock noon; and on Saturday they work from half-past six A.M. to two P.M. A great number of the girls go and come to their work is machines. Those machines hold from 12 to 20 persons. For this they each pay one dollar a month. But I can assure the factory girls in Dundee that the women in that factory required it last winter, for in that place the ground was covered with snow to the depth of from three to five feet for nearly four months. I may tell the Dundee girls that I have never seen any girl go to work here of any kind unless she was dressed “up to dick,” for they all wear their bonnets, shawls, gloves, &c, no matter what they work at. The girls who work at the tailoring trade go to work as well dressed as any of Baxter’s or Gilroy’s girls are when they are walking out the Perth Road with their beloved ones.

The foregoing result concerning wages being arrived at, the subject of the cost of living becomes an interesting question. As there is a great deal of boarding here I will take that matter first, and as I have three years’ experience of boarding in different places, I know a little about it. Men will get good board for four dollars per week, some places four and a-half. This does not include washing; you have either to take your clothes to a private individual, or go and get your “checkie” from Johnny Chinaman; but there is no comparison with boarding here and boarding in Scotland. There are always two or three kinds of dishes set before you—roast beef, steak, mutton, or pork being always on the table. Potatoes, and tea or coffee are served at all three meals; all sorts of pies or tarts and custards, along with fruits and vegetables in their season. Porridge is not known; I have only got it once since I came here, and, as it turned out, once too often. It happened in this wise:—Going home from work one night my boarding mistress asked me if I would take mush for supper. I said if I knew what it was I would tell her. She replied you would call it porridge. I immediately answered “Yes,” thinking I was going to get a treat. She brought a piece on a plate with fork and knife. I cut a piece and put it in my mouth. But, O horror, the porridge had no salt among t. Spitting it out again, and asking her how there was no salt in it, she replied “There is both salt and sugar on the table, you can use any of them you please.” “Well,” I said, “take and give those to the hens, and make no more mush for me,” and she was quite indignant, and so was I. Continue reading “‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 3.’ by a Correspondent in New York (28 January, 1882)”

‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 2.’ by a Correspondent in New York (21 January, 1882)

The following is part of a series of articles on the condition of the United States of America for working class Scottish immigrants. One of the core tenants of The People’s Journal was to encourage self-improvement for the working classes. For these reason the paper would regularly promote emigration and provide news  and publish correspondence from the major destination of Scots in the period (the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). This piece continues the discussion from the previous article on work and wages, specifically the advantages of trade unions.

Work and Wages.

To the Editor of The People’s Journal.

Sir,—As regards the wages paid to different trades here I would like those interested in these letters to know what the difference between the wages are now and when trade was dull, and by what means and agency the difference was brought about. Of course supply and demand have a great deal to do with the rise and fall of wages. But all working men know that unless there is pressure put upon employers in the busiest of times wages will never be so good as they would be without this pressure, and successful pressure can never be applied unless combination moves the lever. So it was pressure wrought by Trades Unionism which was the principal means of raising the wages so much this last three years back. And here let me say that I have seen the great benefits that working men derive from Trades Unions more than ever I did before, and I am sorry to add I have seen the want of unionism more than ever I did before.

I will begin with the iron trade first, and in this I include moulders, machinists, blacksmiths, and boilermakers. Three years ago the wages of these different branches were a dollar less per day than they are at present. If the readers of these letters will bear in mind that a dollar is four shillings and twopence, and that there are a hundred cents in a dollar, they will easily follow me in speaking of the currency of this country. So these branches of the iron trade have got a rise of 25s per week within three years. There is a case in point which I was interested. Last spring I was working in a small town called Fulton, in the State of New York. We had two dollars per day, and we knew that wages were rising all over the country, so we combined together and demanded a rise, the employer or boss (as the master is termed here) offered us a quarter of a dollar more per day, which was refused, and after some negotiations we received one half-dollar more per day. I thought to myself that it would have been something wonderful if I had received twelve shillings and sixpence of a rise per week in Dundee. The different branches of the iron trade are nearly paid alike in Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, Cleveland in Ohio, and Rochester in New York; the rate of wages in this class is nearly parallel. In these places moulders have at the present time from two and a half to three and a quarter dollars per day (all wages are counted by the day here; machinists (that is, turners and fitters) have from two dollars to two and a half per day; blacksmiths, from two and a half to three dollars per day; boilermakers, from two to two and a half per day—ten hours per day, or sixty hours per week. But it must be kept in mind that the foregoing wages are only paid to competent workmen, for in America a young man becomes a journeyman after an apprenticeship of three or four years, and a great many of them never serve an apprenticeship at all. This holds good in almost all trades. The consequence is that there are a great many who are not fit to do a day’s work either in quantity or quality. They are generally Jacks-of-all-Trades and masters of none. There is a great deal of piece-work done in America in all branches of industry, and the labour is divided in this manner:—In shoemaking, it takes eight or ten men to make a boot or shoe; there are cutters, bottomers, boot-treers, buffers, heelers, fitters, &c. In moulding, cooking and heating stores are made in the same manner. One man makes the bottom part, another the top, another the sides, another the doors, and so on. By this system the workmen get to be proficient in a short time, but only at the once branch of the trade. All these different branches of shoemaking are made in factories, and by machinery; wages ranging from ten to fifteen dollars per week. But there are workshops where hand-sewed boots and shoes are made. A good shoemaker can earn two or two and a quarter dollars per day. Continue reading “‘A Dundee Working Man on America — No. 2.’ by a Correspondent in New York (21 January, 1882)”