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Daniel Vickers’ “Farmers and Fishermen: Two Centuries of Work in Essex County, Massachusetts 1630-1850” Essay

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Updated: Oct 2nd, 2021

Introduction

In the book, Farmers and Fishermen: Two Centuries of Work in Essex County, Massachusetts 1630-1850 by Daniel Vickers, it is clear that getting workers or even slaves is hard due to the economic struggles. “By reconstructing the work experiences of thousands of farmers and fishermen in eastern Massachusetts, Vickers identifies who worked for whom and under what terms. Seventeenth-century farmers, for example, maintained patriarchal control over their sons largely to assure themselves of a labor force. The first generation of fish merchants relied on a system of clientage that bound poor fishermen to deliver their hauls in exchange for goods.

Toward the end of the colonial period, land scarcity forced farmers and fishermen to search for ways to support themselves through wage employment and home manufacture. Out of these adjustments, says Vickers, emerged a labor market sufficient for industrialization” (Vickers). Therefore, it was of a difficult time to the point where things had to be reconstructed in order for the people to survive.

Discussion

Due to technologically driven increases in productivity, advances in manufacturing and automation have slashed the prices of consumer appliances. However, productivity growth threatens the middle class and other social classes in three ways due to the poor structure of the economy which could increase economic growth if reconstructed correctly.

Daniel Vickers examines the shifting labor strategies used by colonists as New England evolved from a string of frontier settlements to a mature society on the brink of industrialization. Lacking the means to purchase slaves or hire help, seventeenth-century settlers adapted the labor systems of Europe to cope with the shortages of capital and workers they encountered on the edge of the wilderness. As their world developed, changes in labor arrangements paved the way for the economic transformations of the nineteenth century.

By reconstructing the work experiences of thousands of farmers and fishermen in eastern Massachusetts, Vickers identifies who worked for whom and under what terms. Seventeenth-century farmers, for example, maintained patriarchal control over their sons largely to assure themselves of a labor force. The first generation of fish merchants relied on a system of clientage that bound poor fishermen to deliver their hauls in exchange for goods.

Toward the end of the colonial period, land scarcity forced farmers and fishermen to search for ways to support themselves through wage employment and home manufacture. Out of these adjustments, says Vickers, emerged a labor market sufficient for industrialization (Vickers).

Unfortunately, unemployment was an issue before the damaging crash. From there, started the beginning of depression for the whole industrialized world. The unemployment rate doubled by twenty percent during this time period. Unfortunately, without work, many people were forced to live in rough and ready homes with poor heating and cleanliness.

More recently, however, several monographs have moved beyond the social-historical focus to concentrate on the economy per se. Daniel Vickers’ Farmers and Fishermen, for example, details the precise methods whereby Essex County settlers secured scarce labor in their ongoing effort to export cod and other goods to West Indian and Iberian markets. What Vickers did for labor, John Frederick Martin has done for land. His monograph explores the efforts of “settlement entrepreneurs” to incorporate a sprawling expanse of land into coherent, developed, and profitable townships.

Other scholars, most notably Stephen Innes and Christine Heyrman, have elucidated the processes whereby colonists generated capital through shipbuilding and export trading in increasingly vibrant maritime communities. Our understanding of New England’s economy still lags behind that of colonial British America’s staple producing regions, but these valuable interpretations are beginning to form a more complete picture of New England’s economic development (Newell).

Conclusion

This period of struggle was based on the fact that the government was not sure how to handle that type of situation. Unfortunately, their downfall was that they did not have the knowledge to prepare for the events that occurred. without further political assistance so that the society could move forward again without running the risk of struggling in the future. This time period made children and women go to work when it was vital for them to focus their homes and futures.

For women, they had to scrub floors to make extra money for their families while maintaining a normal household for their unemployed husbands. On the breadline, people had to depend on employment developments and public works projects that were most of the time funded by state government loans from overseas. Unfortunately, for young people, the employment that they acquired was not beneficial in the future, however, they found a way to make things work by reconstructing the areas that needed help.

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"Daniel Vickers’ “Farmers and Fishermen: Two Centuries of Work in Essex County, Massachusetts 1630-1850”." IvyPanda, 2 Oct. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/daniel-vickers-farmers-and-fishermen-two-centuries-of-work-in-essex-county-massachusetts-1630-1850/.

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IvyPanda. "Daniel Vickers’ “Farmers and Fishermen: Two Centuries of Work in Essex County, Massachusetts 1630-1850”." October 2, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/daniel-vickers-farmers-and-fishermen-two-centuries-of-work-in-essex-county-massachusetts-1630-1850/.

References

IvyPanda. 2021. "Daniel Vickers’ “Farmers and Fishermen: Two Centuries of Work in Essex County, Massachusetts 1630-1850”." October 2, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/daniel-vickers-farmers-and-fishermen-two-centuries-of-work-in-essex-county-massachusetts-1630-1850/.

References

IvyPanda. (2021) 'Daniel Vickers’ “Farmers and Fishermen: Two Centuries of Work in Essex County, Massachusetts 1630-1850”'. 2 October.

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