Events In Labor History
1766 to 1880
1806    Philadelphia Shoemakers found guilty of criminal conspiracy after striking for higher wages.
1827 The Mechanics Union of Trade Associations, a union of skilled craftsmen from various trades, form in Philadelphia.

1824    Pawtucket mill workers strike over proposed wage cuts.  Pawtucket weavers were among the first American women to participate in a strike.

1795  Worker advocate and activist proponent of the free suffrage Seth Luther is born in Providence, Rhode Island (died 1863).
1841 Rhode Islanders ratify the People’s Constitution which provided for a secret ballot, a state bill of rights, an attack on monopolies, and extended the vote to all white males.  The following year worker rights once again came to the fore in the Dorr War.
When the disposition and efforts of one part of mankind to oppress another, have become too manifest to be mistaken and too pernicious in their consequences to be endured, it has often been found necessary for those who feel aggrieved, to associate, for the purpose of affording to each other mutual protection from oppression.  

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1791  Philadelphia carpenters engage in an unsuccessful strike for a 10 hour day.

1835  Philadelphia workers - led by Irish coal heavers - strike for a ten-hour workday.

1840  President Van Buren orders 10-hour day without a reduction in pay for federal employees on public works.

1842  Connecticut and Massachusetts prohibit children form working more than 10 hours per day.

1844  Women workers in Pennsylvania cotton mills strike for a 10-hour day.

1847  New Hampshire becomes the first state to make the 10-hour day the legal workday.

1848  Pennsylvania becomes the second state to pass a 10-hour workday law.

1790   Samuel Slater establishes the new nation’s first textile mill in Pawtucket, RI.  All the workers - seven boys and two girls - are under age 12.

click on image to right to read more about child labor


1794  The Federal Society of Journeymen Cordwainers is founded.

1852  Ohio limits women’s workday to ten hours.

1860  Successful strike of 20,000 New England Shoemakers.

1864  The 8-hour day becomes the primary goal of the Chicago

labor movement.

1868  First federal labor law is passed establishing the 8-hour workday for laborers, mechanics, and workment employed by the government.

1875  “Molly Maguires” convicted for anthracite coalfield murders.  Ten executed.

click on image to take a closer look at broadside of Knight’s leader Terrence Powderly

read the terms of the Indentured Servitude of “a poor child,” Caleb Humphry (1782, Bristol Rhode Island) click on image to the left.

read the terms of the Joseph Freeborn’s “terms and conditions” of employment in 1766.