Annie Besant describes the conditions of the London Match Workers as a kind of white Slavery, but does their condition really match those of the slaves brought to the Americas? The conditions of both reflect social debates of their times, where human beings were treated as property. I see both parallels and differences between the conditions of Londons working class and the African slaves brought to the AmericasBeginning with the physical conditions of the labor each had to perform, many parallels exist between the hard labor of the British factory workers and plantation slaves. Annie Besant says, One girl was fined 1s. for letting the web twist around the machine in an endeavor to save her fingers from being cut, and was sharply told to take care of the machine, never mind your fingers. The slaves also faced similar harsh conditions, but in some respects may have been treated better simply because of their value as property. With little training necessary at their jobs, the owners faced little economic disincentive if a girl was injured or had to be replaced.
Next are the parallels between the way the factory workers and the slaves were viewed by the upper class and the government. Annie Bessant says, Born in slums, driven to work while still children, undersized because underfed, oppressed because helpless, flung aside as soon as worked out, who cares if the die or go on the streets, provided only that Bryant and May shareholders get their 23 percent. This is the view from the working class; they feel as if are treated like garbage. We do not see this opinion from the factory owners or the government. The government did little at first to promote fair treatment and wages for the children or adult factory workers. Many, like Thomas Babington Macaulay, argued that without the factories the girls would have no jobs resulting in even worse poverty. We see the same case made earlier for the black slaves. James Froude claims that the British system is good for the...
Bibliography: orton Anthology of English Literature, 8th Ed, Vol 2
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