The Belles of New England: The Women of the Textile Mills and the Families Whose Wealth They Wove

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9780312301835: The Belles of New England: The Women of the Textile Mills and the Families Whose Wealth They Wove

The Belles of New England is a masterful, definitive, and eloquent look at the enormous cultural and economic impact on America of New England's textile mills. The author, an award-winning CBS producer, traces the history of American textile manufacturing back to the ingenuity of Francis Cabot Lodge. The early mills were an experiment in benevolent enlightened social responsibility on the part of the wealthy owners, who belonged to many of Boston's finest families. But the fledgling industry's ever-increasing profits were inextricably bound to the issues of slavery, immigration, and workers' rights.

William Moran brings a newsman's eye for the telling detail to this fascinating saga that is equally compelling when dealing with rags and when dealing with riches. In part a microcosm of America's social development during the period, The Belles of New England casts a new and finer light on this rich tapestry of vast wealth, greed, discrimination, and courage.

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From the Inside Flap:

The Belles of New England is the story of one group of pioneers in the American labor movement--the thousands of women who left New England farm towns to work in the textile cities that sprang up in the region in the early nineteenth century. Their goal was to achieve personal independence, their mission social justice. At a time when women had no political influence, they battled powerful mill owners for fair pay and decent working conditions.

Generations of immigrants followed these women into the mills and changed Yankee New England forever. They came first from famine-stricken Ireland and the impoverished farms of Quebec, then from the wary-weary countries of Europe. The immigrants, too, found that fighting for justice was part of realizing the promise of America.

The Belles of New England fills the American stage with historical figures--from the blue-blooded Cabots and Lowells of Boston to the Southern slaves who first supplied cotton to the mills. Also playing their parts are the famous poets and politicians who hated slavery, as well as the radical labor agitators, and finally, the mill workers themselves, who after World War II stood by helplessly as their looms, and their jobs, vanished.

William Moran brings a newsman's eye for the telling detail to this fascinating saga, which is equally compelling when dealing with riches. In part a microcosm of America's social development during the period, The Belles of New England casts a new and finer light on this rich tapestry of vast wealth, greed, discrimination, and courage.

From the Back Cover:

Advance Acclaim for The Belles of New England

"This is a deeply moving and revelatory book about the belles of New England who never made the society page. They were the downstairs girls who worked in the textile mills of the upstairs Brahmins so many years ago. I was knocked out by their courage and scrappiness in fighting for a living wage, not only for themselves, but for the women of tomorrow, as well as for the men. 'Bread and Roses' is what it's all about." -- Studs Terkel, author of Working

"Mr. Moran has written a fascinating book--a genuine contribution to our understandings of America's past. He brings to life a forgotten chapter in the history of American women and connects it to the larger history of the nation and the world." -- Thomas Fleming, author of Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Future of America

"This is a compelling narrative of America's first industrial revolution. Moran has written a comprehensive, passionate tribute to the textile workers and the world that they made." -- Michael Kazin, author of Barons of Labor

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