Lynn, always an integral location for shoe manufacturing in Massachusetts, became known as The Shoe City at the turn of the nineteenth century. With the technological advances as a result of the Industrial Revolution, Lynn experienced an increase in urban development and factories. Through the automation available from mechanized processes, shoemakers leapt from making five shoes per day, to fifty pairs. The increase in production dropped the price for the consumer and, subsequently, the rate for wage workers. Tensions came to a head in the late 1850’s when Lynn workers began to organize in an effort to pressure employers to increase and standardize the wage rate.
By Allen Peabody, 1860.
After months of planning, the strike began on George Washington’s birthday: February 22, 1860. The strike gained national attention when female factory workers, and the few still working at home, also joined the strike. Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln said of the issue, “I am glad to see that a system of labor prevails in New England under which laborers can strike when they want to, where they are not obliged to labor whether you pay them or not. I like a system which lets a man quit when he wants to, and wish it might prevail everywhere.” Unfortunately, despite the national attention, the strike was largely unsuccessful and the laborer’s abandoned the strike within a couple of months.