A Working Man Jack Strike.
Author:A Working Man
Publication:Ashton And Stalybridge Reporter
Date:April 6th, 1861
Even before the outbreak of the American Civil War, Lancashire’s cotton industry was in trouble. In the boom years of the late 1850s, overproduction had left markets glutted, so that in early 1861 manufacturers were looking to protect their profits from the drop in prices of finished cotton goods. In many cotton towns, attempts to drive down wages led to industrial disputes including strike action. The author of “Jack Strike”, who himself purports to be “A Working Man”, urges his colleagues to avoid this route as ineffective and more damaging to workers than to employers. As the author points out, withdrawal of labour at a time of low demand leads only to the exhaustion of resources – it would be better to wait until labour was again in demand. Unfortunately for the cotton workers of Lancashire, this was to be a long wait. Though some manufacturers took advantage of the shortage of raw cotton to sell stockpiled goods at higher prices, this was no solution to the employment crisis. For the operatives involved in industrial action prior to the outbreak of the Cotton Famine, scant resources were stretched even further to cover a prolonged period without work. – RM