Professor Son Mai
7 December 2014
How Cheap Labor Helped Expand the United States of America
Many factors helped the United States of America (U.S.A.) in its early stages to grow to become the large powerhouse it is now. The most important of those important happenings, was cheap labor. Cheap labor let the U.S.A. expand economically, in population size, and industrially in the time period before the Civil War.
Slaves supported the U.S.A.’s economy by working the plantations and producing many of the crops. The major reason farmers in the south were able to maintain their production and make so revenue was because the slaves provided nearly free labor. Solomon Northup expressed this by saying that “An ordinary day’s work is two hundred pounds (of cotton)” (103). If slaves hadn’t been available, the South would not have been able to develop its economy as quickly.
Indentured servants helped increase the population of the U.S.A. because many farmers were willing to import these cheap workers. These workers had very low level living conditions, making them ideal to send for from Britain and easy to maintain their needs. Richard Frethorn explains that the indentured servants are needed to be low maintenance by saying, “This is to let you understand that I your child am in a most heavy case by reason of the nature of the country” (26). Without the availability and low cost of bringing in indentured servants from Britain, the U.S.A. would have had a significantly lower population.
Child workers and women were important to the beginning of industrialization in the U.S.A. due to the fact that they both were very affordable for factories to employ. Julianna shows the terrible, but affordable, factory life of women by saying, “Crowded into a small room, which contains three bed and six females” (100). Children’s working environments were just as cheap and poor; William Shaw represents this in his testimony about child labor, saying, “has never known a thermometer to be kept in the rooms; in the winter they are generally kept too cold” (96). If it weren’t for these factors supporting factories, industrialization would have had a much harder time beginning in the U.S.A.
The U.S.A. had much assistance in its beginnings to be able to become what it is now. The largest of these helping hands was the access to cheap labor. The ability to get people to work in the factories and farms for such low wages made the U.S.A. grow its economy, population, and industries.