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Using Track Changes, I have rewritten the post-asterisk paragraphs so that they would be comprehensible to a modern reader who has not attended college. Title of the article: “American Shoemakers, 1648 –1895: A Sketch of Industrial Evolution” Author: John R. Commons, University of Wisconsin

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This is a slightly adapted version of text that was accessed through JSTOR and originally published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, November 1909, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp. 39-84.

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The boot and shoemakers, also known as “cordwainers,” were the earliest and most

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strenuous of American industrialists in their economic struggles. The highly skilled and

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intelligent class of tradesmen, who had been easily menaced by commercial and

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industrial changes, were forced to confront each new menace with determination in order

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to provide refuge to protective organizations. The shoemakers were among nine of the

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seventeen trials for conspiracy prior to 1842. By using American documents from the gild

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to the factory, it is possible to trace each industrial stage. Some organizations whose

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records offer this picture of industrial evolution under American conditions are called the

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“Company of Shoomakers [sic],” Boston 1648; the “Society of the Master Cordwainers,”

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Philadelphia, 1789; the “Federal Society of Journeymen Cordwainers,” Philadelphia 1794; and “the Boot and Shoe Workers Union,”[ENTER LOCATION], 1895. Each of these organizations stands for a definite stage within the industrial evolution, from the primitive traveling cobbler to the modern factory; each represents an internal conflict over the distribution of wealth provoked by external conditions of written documents,

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which preserve the types of social structure that struggled to adapt along with the evolving economic series. Probably the first American gild was that of the “Shoomakers [sic] of Boston,” and its charter incorporation, granted by the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay, on

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October 18, 1648. The “Shoomakers [sic] of Boston” was the only complete American charter of its kind. The coopers were granted a similar charter with the same result in mind. The act recited that based on the “shoomakers” desire as well as complaints of the “damage” to which the country sustained “by occasion of bad ware made by some of that trade,” that they should meet and elect a leader of the organization. The foregoing sketch of industrial evolution in America highlightes the part played by the expanding area of competition and the effort of protective organizations to

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ward off the abnormal competitive menace of each stage of development. From this standpoint the sketch may be compared with investigations of Marx, Schmoller, and Bücher. Karl Marx was the first to challenge the word with a keen analysis of economic evolution, but his argument concerns the mode of production and not the extension of the market. His two assumptions of a “use value” and a given “average social labor” serve to destory the part played by price-bargain as well as the part played by the wage-bargain. With these assumptions out of the way, he is able to focus on the production of “surplus value” within his theory of the working day and the cost of living. But these are secondary factors, results not causes. The primary factors are on the side of the market where competition is carried on at different levels. Without delay, the shoemakers of Philadelphia experienced the stimulus of this extension of markets and entered the wholesale-order stage of the industry. At once what

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had been an external menace now became internal on this wider and lower level of competition, resulting in the separation and struggle of classes. The wage-class began its long journey to the political immunity of a private organization to eliminate the “scab” in

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his many forms of non-unionist, sweat-shop worker, green hand, and immigrant. But,

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prior to the merchant, capitalist stage, this separation of labor from merchant was

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inconsistent. The employer because of the specialized wage-bargain, was only obligated

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to occasionally appear. But after the merchant-capitalist period, the slogan of the

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protective tariff became instead the protection for labor, where formerly it had been

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protection for capital. Turning to the state governments, labor has summoned its political

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strength for the suppression of the internal hazards of long hours, prison labor, and child

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labor. Finally, neither politics nor organizations were able to limit the menace of

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competition, both “manufacturers” and workmen in the shoe trade strive to raise

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themselves above its level by cultivating the goodwill of the consumers, the former by his

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trade mark, the latter by the union label. Thus, American shoemakers epitomize

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American industrial industry.

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