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The effects of the lowell syst

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The effects of the lowell syst

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The factory workers in Lowell raised much controversy in the eighteenth century when "modernization" was taking place in New England. Two concepts were widely held in regards to women at that time. First was the concept of "republican motherhood" which instructed women to stay home and raise children who would be virtuous assets to the republican government. Second, the concept of the "cult of true womanhood" called for women to be pious, pure, submissive, and domestic. The movement of girls to work in the Lowell factories challenged both these ideals as the girls were no longer living at home, which was considered their proper place to be as the world would strip them of their innate morality and piety; it also challenged the "domestic ideal" (p.141) for women as the factory girls were not dressing themselves as ladies. Thus, the fact that girls were moving away from home conflicted with the ideal that women should be moral and guiding homemakers, and the fact that they were not dressing like "ladies" conflicted with the ideal image of a woman.

The simple fact that women were leaving their homes to go and live in boarding houses conflicted with the ideals in the 18th century as women were seen as the chief means for creating a virtuous and pious domestic life. Women were thought to possess four innate qualities, which were submissiveness, purity, piety, and domesticity. Only in the home could a woman prosper morally and uphold her pious ways. Author Grace Greenwood wrote that a woman was like a "perpetual child" who is always "timid, doubtful, and clinginly dependent." (p.142) Thus, a woman who is not at home under the protection of a male would lose her virtue as she would stray from her pure and pious ways without direction, which would be tragic as women were the "spiritual uplifters of men." The evidence reveals this conflict as it shows how society feared that women would lose their morality as a result of being independent and outside of the home....