Smithsonian

Newspaper account of a strike

We learn that extraordinary excitement was occasioned at Lowell, last week, by an announcement that the wages paid in some of the departments would be reduced 15 percent on the 1st of March. The reduction principally affected the female operatives, and they held several meetings, or caucuses, at which a young woman presided, who took an active part in persuading her associates to give notice that they should quit the mills, and to induce them to “make a run” on the Lowell Bank and the Savings Bank, which they did. On Friday morning, the young woman referred to was dismissed, by the Agent. . . . [She] waved her calash in the air, as a signal to the others, who were watching from the windows, when they immediately “struck” and assembled about her, in despite of the overseers.

The number soon increased to nearly 800. A procession was formed, and they marched about the town, to the amusement of a mob of idlers and boys, and we are sorry to add, not altogether to the credit of Yankee girls. . . . We are told that one of the leaders mounted a stump and made a flaming Mary Wollstonecraft speech on the rights of women and the iniquities of the “monied aristocracy,” which produced a powerful effect on her auditors, and they determined to have their way if they died for it.

Boston Transcript, 1834