History 398 - Fall 2004
Technologies and Their Societies: Historical Perspectives

Second Essay
Mid-Course Bearings

Write an essay of 1500 words on one of the following topics. Since history is fundamentally an empirical disipline, your response should set forth an argument supported by specific evidence drawn from the lectures, readings, and precept discussions pertinent to the subject.


Compare the organization of production at Rockdale, Lowell, and Harpers Ferry.  To what extent can each be said to reflect, at least at the outset, the republican ideology of the new United States?  How did the later vicissitudes of these industrial centers similarly reflect contradictions or tensions in that ideology?  


"The factory was more than just a larger work unit. It was a system of production resting on a characteristic definition of the functions and responsibilities of the different participants in the productive process." (David S. Landes, The Unbound Prometheus)
Using evidence from the lectures and readings, identify the participants, both seen and unseen, in the productive process pictured above and describe how each acquired his or her functions and responsibilities.  


“Since our Time is reduced to a Standard, and the Bullion of the Day minted out into Hours, the Industrious know how to employ every Piece of Time to a real Advantage in their different Professions: And he that is prodigal of his Hours, is, in effect, a Squanderer of Money. I remember a notable Woman, who was fully sensible of the intrinsic Value of Time. Her Husband was a Shoemaker, and an excellent Craftsman, but never minded how the Minutes passed. In vain did she inculcate to him, That Time is Money. He had too much Wit to apprehend her, and it prov’d his Ruin. When at the Alehouse among his idle Companions, if one remark’d that the Clock struck Eleven. What is that, says he, among us all? If she sent him Word by the Boy, that it had stuck Twelve; Tell her to be easy, it can never be more. If, that it had struck One, Bid her be comforted, for it can never be less.

(Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac, Jan. 1751)

Citing specific evidence from the readings and lectures, discuss how the perception and measure of time changed with the rise of the factory system. What does Franklin mean by “Time is Money”? How did this new conception of time transform: 1) how people worked; 2) their broader economies? How was time treated at Rockdale, Lowell, Harpers Ferry, and the English mills and factories?


 "The advantages which are derived from machinery and manufactures seem to arise principally from three sources: The addition which they make to human power.-The economy they produce of human time.-The conversion of substances apparently common and worthless into valuable products." (Charles Babbage, On the economy of machinery and manufactures, 6)
 "John Stuart Mill says in his Principles of Political Economy: 'It is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day's toil of any human being.'  That is, however, by no means the aim of application of machinery under capitalism.  Like every other instrument for increasing the productivity of labour, machinery is intended to cheapen commodities and, by shortening the part of the working day in which the worker works for himself, to lengthen the other part, the part that he gives to the capitalist for nothing. The machine is a means for producing surplus-value" (Karl Marx, Capital, Chapter XV, 491)
Marx and Babbage clearly had different conceptions of the role the machine was playing in England's industrial society.  Clarify these differences by applying their analyses to nineteenth-century American industrialization and to the spread of machinery into the domestic sphere.  Use detailed information from both the lectures and the readings.


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Essays are due by 3:00 PM Monday, 8 November, in your preceptor's box in the History Department Office, 129 Dickinson Hall.