History 398 - Fall 2006
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. Since this is a take-home exercise, it falls under Academic Regulations rather than the Honor Code.  Hence, it requires the statement "This paper represents my own work in accordance with University regulations" with your signature, attesting that you have read and understand the provisions set forth in Academic Integrity at Princeton.


Exercising your historical imagination while remaining close to the evidence provided in the readings and lectures, pretend that you are Karl Marx and have been touring the new American industrial sites in Rockdale, Lowell, and Harpers Ferry.  What would you say about the use of machinery and its role in shaping relations between employers and workers?  Does the American experience confirm what you have said about industrialization in England, or do you see some significant differences?


"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 on the left 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?


"While the domestic system had implied some measure of control, 'it was ... an essentially new thing for the capitalist to be a disciplinarian. [...] The capitalist employer became a supervisor in every detail of the work:  without any change in the general character of the wage contract, the employer acquired new powers which were of great social significance.'  The concept of industrial discipine was new, and called for as much innovation as the technical innovations of the age."  (Pollard, "Factory Discipline in the Industrial Revolution", English Historical Review 16(1963), 259; quoting Usher, Intro. to Industrial Hist. of Engl.(1921), 348)
Using specific evidence from the readings and lectures, discuss the nature of this new industrial discipline and how it was imposed upon workers in the new factories of England and America.  In what ways did the the process of disciplining, and resistance to it, differ among the various sites of nineteenth-century industrialization we have looked at, i.e. the English factory, Rockdale, Lowell, and Harpers Ferry?  In what ways were they similar?


"This paper represents my own work in accordance with University Regulations."

Essays are due by 3:00 PM Friday, 27 October, in the box outside my office, 303 Dickinson, or as an email attachment to