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The Baltimore workforce is an example of pragmatism outweighing racial tensions. Men, women, free, and slave were all accepted into the urban labor force to assist in the running of one of the biggest cities in the country. Employers that could afford to be more picky sometimes were, those who needed to employ a high amount of people weren't. Baltimore was also located in a position to attract people from all races to the city, being on the border of the north and the south. This combined with its significance as a city made it so that there were co-racial worksites that, although not a racial utopia, was more stable than race relations in other places. - Zack Dutke

In my notes, I shorten the labor wage worker to a term my friends use: wagie. Wagie is meant to be a term that refers to modern day wage workers. I think that term is applicable here because, like modern wage workers, they don't have much job security and need to chain streaks of working together. - Zack Dutke

The population of Baltimore was so racially mixed, and under such an economic culture where wage workers didn't benefit whatsoever from the prospering upper class, the lines between the enslaves and the wage workers were muddled to an extent. The wage workers were, in a way, a slave to their wage employer, and so Rockman posits that “there was no need to choose between a labor force entirely of enslaved workers or one entirely of free.” - Ewan H

Rockman examines the difference between the upper class and the working class in Baltimore in the Early Republic. He shows how those that were poor were exploited for labor for low wages. Enslaved people struggled to get to a point where they were self-sufficient. At this time, these workers were doing all that they could to make a survivable income, hence the title Scraping By. - Annie

Rockman writes about the urban environment and the poor, working class citizens that inhabit Baltimore. He talks about the unskilled urban jobs that are detrimental to the running of the city and the country and without these positions being filled, nothing regarding urban life or trade would get accomplished. - Emma Galvin

As the market revolution evolved, urbanization grew as a result. In these cities, such as Baltimore, many employed manual laborers who did a lot of the grueling, and essential, jobs throughout the cities. However, the livelihoods of these laborers, who consisted of immigrants, runaway slaves, and women, were not well as they often had to survive on poor pay in growing cities where the cost of living grew. – Lesley Morales-Sanchez

Got to here–WBM

As Baltimore began to grow into an important hub for trade close to the center of the United States Eastern Seaboard, care for the port, including combating siltation, formed the board of Wardens in 1783. The Wardens would look into some of the early designs and works of mudmachines as tools to aid in harbor care. Interestingly enough, some of the early labor for caring for the harbor and the streets of Baltimore came from convicts who instead of being incarcerated were sentenced to work on these jobs. - David Y.

Just like in any situation that would require a new way of thinking and a new type of machine to aid in the work, early investors were drawn to Baltimore to pitch ideas for these Wardens. Some of the early mechanical Mudmachines would make appearances here in Baltimore, though the funds needed for labor and maintenance were high. Not only did they look for machines to deal with the Silting of the Harbor but also to help clean the city streets. - David Y.

Mudmachinists evolved from a temporary step in one's labor career to a labor career in and of itself. In the 1820s/30s, people stayed on the mudmachine longer and became homeowners. This shows an evolution of this unskilled labor into something that had a sort of career attached to it, like smithing or carpentry. These sorts of perspective shifts can happen with many unskilled labor professions; a generation of workers become very good at an unskilled task, developing skills for labor. - Zack Dutke

Households in the working class were not exclusively family based. Households were mainly a way to share income between individuals. They were structured somewhat similar to tenements. This only helped split the cost of rent and firewood, which did help with the cost of living. - Zack Dutke

Many of the mudmachine workers were immigrants who stayed with Mcdonald. The mudmachine workers were made up of mostly Irish and Scottish-Irish men. Families were usually favored by McDonald and his employment strategies so someone in the family securing a spot on the mud machine was valued as that would almost ensure jobs for the rest of the family. In 1830 the workers began a strike with the intention of getting better wages because when the weather was unworkable, they would not be paid a living wage, so they sent petitions to the mayor and city Council to get a salary of $6 a week for the whole year. -Annie

Urban women’s labor became a commodity. Women worked on the hidden labor of the capitalist economies. Women’s labor contributed to the growing infrastructure. However, as women entered the labor market there were still not enough jobs for women. Employers utilized enslaved women rather than employing free women. - Annie

Mudmachine workers basically get benefits to work by the length of time in which they work. By committing oneself to the incredibly arduous work of dredging Baltimore's harbor, there seems to be some upward momentum with different individuals making a supervisor's salary after months of time working on the machine; however, there is also downwards movement as well. There was one mud machine worker who missed half the year and had his salary dropped from 1.37 to below a dollar just due to missing time. - Garrett W.

The qualifications for women in the workplace were associated with their character and moral qualifications. This involved intimate evaluations of their lives including sexual integrity, moral character, and physical appearance. These intrusive actions taken by employers dissuaded and prevented some women from participating in the wage economy because of allegations from others. - Garrett W.

Preventing and solving social issues in the Early Republic era in Baltimore was factually inefficient, naive (in hindsight) at best, and coercive at worst. The philosophy of welfare for the poor relied on a few cultural assumptions: Christian charity, that poor people were to blame for their situation, and that poor people simply weren't trying enough. As such, more often than not, relief or aid was seen as a way for poor people to profit from the 'industrious' wealthy class, or that aid would only subsidize them into laziness. - V. Girardeau

Aside from private charity, the only “public relief” establishment of the time, mostly funded by patrons, was the Almshouse. This institution sought to “cure” people from poverty. This institution was highly dehumanizing of poor people, but also an opportunity for short-term relief. Because of social hostility towards 'dumping' money for poor people, these institutions were very selective of their inmates, but poor people knew how to bend the system to their advantage. Due to the Almshouse's harsh policies on discipline, in a penitentiary fashion, it remained a last-resort choice for most poor people, especially black people that were faced with higher discrimination in this institution. Relatively to the rate of impoverished free black men and women in Baltimore, they were underrepresented in the Almshouse. - V. Girardeau

Wage labor could not support the daily needs of poor workers. As such, interdependency through households was a means of survival. Men needed women's support to translate their earnings into useful subsistence domestic labor, and women on their own did not have sufficient earnings in this market economy. Children and multigenerational labor were mobilized to contribute to subsistence. Generally speaking, individuals and households had to come up with strategies for survival, contraception, legal marriage, splitting of the household to seek long-term employment, loans… - V. Girardeau

The main expenditures for households were food, rent, clothes, medicine, and firewood. Many free African-American households had added high expenditures related to slavery. For instance, free members of the household could have to pay for another member's freedom. They could amount copious debt for their own freedoms, which further complicated the formation of stable African-American households as some members could remain enslaved while some were free. Even children could be enslaved while parents remained free under term enslavement, and was sometimes a survival strategy. Added to these financial restraints was the fear that black children might be kidnapped. - V. Girardeau

Poor households were extremely unstable as they always walked on the verge of ruin. The death or removal of a spouse could lead to total destruction of the household, which given the risks that poor people were faced with (work injury, illness, conjugal violence, crime), was likely. Interdependency did not ultimately transform the patriarchal structure of the household. While it granted more autonomy and decisional power to women, eventually women could not afford to be on their own, 50% of women-led households were below the poverty lines, compared to 33% for men. Society at large promoted male-led households in a patriarchal system. - V. Girardeau

Women in Baltimore during this time had an interesting role in the economy, as they performed domestic duty for their households, but also had the option to do it for others for a wage. The domestic labor market was hardly less strenuous than the work that men were doing, with activities like laundry, cooking, getting water, and sewing being very time consuming and intensive. Women who wanted to supplement the household income could potentially sell their domestic abilities to another family, but this act would not remove the tasks that women would have to do in their own homes. - Ewan Highsmith

Lawmakers and the wealthy of Baltimore, who were far removed from the nitty gritty of the wage labor market, assumed that doing wage labor was a temporary stage in a person's life. The assumption was that young people would work for wages in their early years, and then save up enough money to move away and be financially self-sufficient. This was not the case, however, in actuality the wage labor market didn't support a significant amount of upward movement, economically speaking. - Ewan Highsmith

One of the many more subtle developments of the Baltimore economy was a sort of underground market. In this market, where legality was not a main concern, activities like pawning, scavenging/stealing, or gambling were all a means to supplement earnings when your wage wasn't enough. It's worth noting that women had an important role in this market, as the domestic servants, they had access to potentially valuable items that could be stolen and turned around for cash. - Ewan Highsmith

It's amazing how different life was for women in the country compared to the city. Women in the country were almost strictly homemakers or if they did work, it would be to help out on the farm. In a place like Baltimore there really wasn't any land to farm or even garden and often times, if they had a family, more than one wage was sometimes needed to survive, whether that be the mother who really couldn't work all that often or sending of the eldest child for extra income. -Emma Galvin

Since many women had to take care of the home and children, they couldn't work 12+ hours a day in textile factory or as a domestic servant and watch the kids, unlike what single women could do. What some did to make extra wage was through markets. Many of these women would knit or craft something in their free time and on weekends they would go to the markets and sell what they could to make money. This wasn't a ton of income, but neither was the less than minimum wage they would otherwise work for, and some money at this time was better than no money.- Emma Galvin

Even with these day laborer jobs, they weren't permanent and often seasonal. Throughout the warmers months, it was fairly easy to find a low paying day job, but when it got colder, these jobs halted especially in a place like Baltimore. Most of these day jobs were at the docks and in the winter, ships didn't run. Unless families didn't plan well, or even have enough funds to plan ahead, they would most likely go hungry more days than not. - Emma Galvin

Many of those who were considered “unskilled laborers” were any person who worked in what society considers simple, low-value work. These jobs were often street scrapers, seamstress, domestic servants, mariners, and other similar jobs. These jobs are often very labor intensive and time consuming as they did not have the same technology that we have today. – Lesley Morales-Sanchez

Baltimore was a great place to study the growth and changes that occurred during the early American Republic as it has little to no background in the colonial era. In this city during the early 1800s, it became a striving port-city, surpassing Boston as the largest city in the country. Baltimore came to become a great city for many reasons, on of them being the great help from those considered as “unskilled laborers.” For this reason, the very same unskilled laborers began to demand better pay wages. – Lesley Morales-Sanchez

For women during this time, work with good pay was a rather difficult goal to obtain. Many had to work in jobs that were considered unskilled because they were not able to get a job in the trades. Often, women were denied these jobs in the trade (mechanical, manufacturing, or stock) as it was seen more as men’s work. This left mainly the domestic work for women. – Lesley Morales-Sanchez

rockman_scraping_by.txt · Last modified: 2023/09/21 15:34 by lmorale3