Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

Who had it worse, the slaves or the factory workers?

In the 1800's the factory workers and slaves had both at one time

10 Answers

  • Laredo
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Factory workers worked long hours for very little pay and in bad conditions, but at the end of days work they went home to their families. Slaves also worked long hours for no pay and could be beaten at anytime, their standard of living was bad, they could be sold to other slave owners this meant that the slaves would be sent away from their families and probably never saw them again. So all in all to answer your question is was the slaves who had it worse of all.

  • Ragnar
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    The Enclosure Movement forced people to work in factories and mines.

    It was not a choice made for a better standard of living, because the living standards of factory workers were far worse than that of agricultural workers.

    By 1820, the life expectancy of a factory or mine worker in a city was 20 years.

    Factory and mine workers were not beaten, but they were more at risk of dying from respiratory illnesses such as Emphysema, Pnuemoconiosis (black lung), Anthracosis, Silicosis, Siderosis, Silocosiderosis and Byssinosis.

    These were all caused by breathing in various types of dust.

    I would say that the lot of factory workers before 1802 would have been no better than that of slaves. But since 1802 and the passing of the Factories Act, factory workers had atleast some legal protection.

    Some of these laws limited the maximum hours of work for children between the ages of 9-13 to 8 hours a day, and children between 14 and 19 to 12 hours a day.

    Children had to be instructed in reading, writing and arithmetic for the first four years of work, and mill owners had to tend to any infectious diseases.

    Children had to be supplied with two complete outfits of clothing.

    Children may not sleep more than two to a bed.

    I say that these laws gave some legal protection. But there was no inspection regime to ensure these laws were enforced. Factory owners caught breaking these laws would be fined between £2 - £5.

  • 1 decade ago

    Before unions, and government labour laws I would say factory workers had it worst. No time restrictions, no safety equipment. At least the slaves would work from sun up to sun down on a farm, but with gas lights or electric lights the factories kept working. The BBC did a show, Worst Jobs In History, industrial england was horrid. The pay for a factory worker was just in the cents a day, normally the whole family had to work. Also rich capitalist were not stupid, they would have shops were employees had to buy there clothes or hardware from them, keeping the money in the company.

  • 1 decade ago

    Slaves. It is probably true that as far as working conditions, living conditions, food, etc, the average slave was probably no worse off than the average free working class person. And some may have been better off, depending on how considerate their owners were.

    But slaves were subject to many restrictions and humiliations that were not inflicted on poor white people. Slaves could not legally marry(though many went through a form of marriage), and families could be broken up at the stroke of an owner's pen, husband sold away from wives, children from their parents etc. Slaves could be flogged or branded or punished in other cruel ways by their owners. Slaves were forbidden to learn to read and write, and any who were caught trying to learn were punished. Slaves could not leave an owner, no matter how cruel he might be, could not move or try to seek better employment, as free working class people could.

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  • Jim L
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Nobody was forced to be a factory worker. They left agriculture and became factory workers because they had a higher standard of living. Sorry Ragnar, but all the statistics show that poverty was worse in rural areas.

    Gaskell's North and south is quite nostalgic for the old life. But it has the telling point that it was hard to get servants in Manchester because girls preferred the higher wages of the mills. A man thinking of going to live in the countryside is reminded that he will not be able to eat meat there, as he does as a factory worker.

    What is more, factory workers had a chance to learn and get on.

    So, slaves, without a doubt.

  • Jas B
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Slavery was obviously worse, factory owners could not sell the husbands. wife or children of their workers. A slave could be chained, sold, whipped, sold, branded and burned alive if they grumbled.

    The numbers of Africans who died during the trans-Atlantic crossings were horrendous. Such was the greed of the slave traders in their desire to carry as many Africans as possible on each voyage that they packed their prisoners into the holds of the slave ships like sardines in a tin, with often fatal consequences. The records of the High Court of Admiralty reveal some appalling losses. In 1652 the ship Constant Ruth lost 90 out of a cargo of 207 slaves. The Fortune lost 132 out of 320 in 1678. The Hannibal, sailing from Whydah to Barbados in 1693 lost 320 out of 700. The Brownlow in 1749 lost 62 out of 218.

    The Africans came from a strong tradition of extended families which was torn apart at the slave auction. Mothers and their children were separated from one another. Once a girl slave became a woman, she was forced to have kids. Even at the age of twelve, many women had children just to make more slaves for the master. Women could be raped by the owner of the plantation, his sons or, any white male.

    The accommodation provided for slaves usually consisted of wooden shacks with dirt floors. According to Jacob Stroyer they were built to house two families: "Some had partitions, while others had none. When there were no partitions each family would fit up its own part as it could; sometimes they got old boards and nailed them up, stuffing the cracks with rags; when they could not get boards they hung up old clothes."

    Another slave, Josiah Henson wrote that "Wooden floors were an unknown luxury. In a single room were huddled, like cattle, ten or a dozen persons, men, women, and children. We had neither bedsteads, nor furniture of any description. Our beds were collections of straw and old rags, thrown down in the corners and boxed in with boards; a single blanket the only covering."

    While conditions were also bad in the factories at the time with long working hours, child labour, while the job could be dangerous and for many the living conditions were bad, the workers did earn money, they did have rights over themselves and their families, no one could murder, beat or rape them without consequences and they could leave a job if they wished to.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Seeing as the factory workers were still capable of learning to read and write and weren't separated from their families and had the right to vote and got their jobs of their own free accord (phew) I'd say the slaves had it MUCH worse.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Factory workers couldn't be branded, flogged, sold off, or hanged by their 'owners.' Slaves could.

  • 4 years ago

    Slaves. they'd in no way leave, and that they could be bodily abused. and that they weren't provided those issues, they had to make housing, foodstuff, and outfits, they have been allowed to apply the components they got here across mendacity around.

  • 4 years ago


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