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Redeeming Time

Redeeming Time: Protestantism and Chicago's Eight-Hour Movement, 1866-1912

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 272
  • Book Info
    Redeeming Time
    Book Description:

    During the struggle for the eight-hour workday and a shorter workweek, Chicago emerged as an important battleground for workers in "the entire civilized world" to redeem time from the workplace in order to devote it to education, civic duty, health, family, and leisure. William A. Mirola explores how the city's eight-hour movement intersected with a Protestant religious culture that supported long hours to keep workers from idleness, intemperance, and secular leisure activities. Analyzing how both workers and clergy rewove working-class religious cultures and ideologies into strategic and rhetorical frames, Mirola shows how every faith-based appeal contested whose religious meanings would define labor conditions and conflicts. As he notes, the ongoing worker-employer tension transformed both how clergy spoke about the eight-hour movement and what they were willing to do, until intensified worker protest and employer intransigence spurred Protestant clergy to support the eight-hour movement even as political and economic arguments eclipsed religious framing. A revealing study of an era and a movement, Redeeming Time illustrates the potential--and the limitations--of religious culture and religious leaders as forces in industrial reform.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09679-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Religion, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xviii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Protestantism and Labor Reform Movements
    (pp. 1-20)

    It was a cold February day in 1894 when English reformer William T. Stead, author of the controversial social analysisIf Christ Came to Chicago,presided at a two-and-a-half-hour meeting of workers, social reformers, and the interested public at Bricklayers’ Hall in Chicago. The hall was filled with people who had come to hear William C. Pomeroy, general organizer for the American Federation of Labor, and Rev. William A. Burch, pastor of Hamlin Avenue Methodist Church, debate the possibility of ministers and wage earners joining forces in support of industrial reform. Burch and Pomeroy both bemoaned the lack of cooperation...

  5. CHAPTER 1 A City of Industrial and Religious Extremes
    (pp. 21-42)

    Whether it is the nineteenth century or the twenty-first century, Chicago remains a city on the move and one that is difficult to describe definitively as a result (D. Miller 1996; Pacyga 2009). Yet from its beginning, Chicago, more than other urban centers in the late nineteenth century, was recognized as a city of extremes (D. Miller 1996). But it was its industrial development and its religious life that set Chicago apart most from its urban peers. The city embodied the economic transition from a preindustrial order, supported by merchants, farmers, artisans, and small producers, to the new capitalist order...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Opening Eight-Hour Protests and the 1867 Eight-Hour Law
    (pp. 43-70)

    The great debate over the length of the workday began long before the Gilded Age and carried on concurrently in early-nineteenth-century Europe as well as in the United States (Robertson 1893; Rae 1894). As industrialization, the wage system, and class polarization expanded in advance of and following the Civil War, the new industrial working classes faced profound contradictions between their lived experiences with the factory system and their republican ideals regarding how the economy and community life ought to operate (Montgomery 1981; Weir 1996). A generation of native-born workers and immigrants from Britain, Ireland, and Germany all found themselves caught...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Eight Hours and the Financial Crisis of 1873
    (pp. 71-90)

    As a new decade began, Chicago workers remained angry and frustrated by the lack of enforcement of the Illinois eight-hour law and by the ongoing resistance of employers both to the moral pressure of reformers’ arguments and to their attempt to enforce the eight-hour law through strikes. Union efforts at putting the eight-hour system to work were largely unsuccessful, so very few workers except the journeyman stonecutters actually worked shorter hours in their trades. Yet despite what seemed to be the general failure of the 1867 eight-hour campaign and the fragmentation of the movement into conservative and radical factions, Yankee,...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Marching to Haymarket and the 1886 Eight-Hour Campaign
    (pp. 91-116)

    As the 1870s drew to a close, the animosity between Chicago workers and employers continued to grow unabated. Fragmentation continued to plague labor as the eight-hour movement split into three movement factions, spurred on by the immigration waves that flooded the city’s working class with more Germans, Irish, Bohemians, and Scandinavians. Approximately thirty thousand native-born mostly Protestant workers were organized into nineteen unions through the Chicago Trades and Labor Assembly. Irish Catholics along with some native-born, Protestant workers joined the Chicago District Assembly of the Knights of Labor. The entrance of Catholic immigrants into the Knights increased their membership from...

  9. CHAPTER 5 A “New Consciousness” for Constructing a Morality of Leisure
    (pp. 117-154)

    The eight-hour movement and tumultuous events at the Haymarket square in the opening days of May 1886 represented the culmination of another major cycle of eight-hour protests in Chicago. Descriptions of those events ever since have been colored by analysts’ particular viewpoints (Messer-Kruse 2011; Green 2006). Kinsley (1946, 83), for example, regarded the events of 1886 as labor upheavals resulting from “poorly paid and poorly organized [workers] . . . led astray by vindictive and emotional German Anarchists.” Other scholars characterize Haymarket as a landmark of labor mobilization but the end of labor’s power in the nineteenth century, spurring repression...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Shifting Eight-Hour Reform from Consciousness to Creed in the Twentieth Century
    (pp. 155-192)

    On January 5, 1910, Charles Stuart, editor of theNorthwestern Christian Advocate, posed this question: “Has the Church a Gospel of Recreation?” Jane Addams of Hull House contributed a feature article on the subject in that particular issue. The question itself embodied a half century of debate and struggle within Chicago’s social reform circles about what it meant to redeem time for wage earners. For organized labor, creating a gospel of recreation to redeem time had been its moral mission from the beginning of the eight-hour movement. But many Protestants still balked at the very idea of linking the word...

  11. CONCLUSION: Religion and the Trajectory of Labor Reform Movements
    (pp. 193-208)

    Time, faith, and labor are three aspects of contemporary American life that continue to generate discussion, debate, and, at times, explosive social conflicts. Time is something none of us seems to possess in sufficient quantities, and, in an era of multitasking, it seems completely incongruous to discuss the idea of redeeming time in ways that create separate spheres of work and leisure. Technology structures time, so many never completely leave work, and for increasing numbers of people, being on call around the clock is the new normal. But even in our own time, critical voices from many directions, including religion,...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 209-210)
    (pp. 211-224)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 225-236)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 237-246)