HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
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The Village Blacksmith: The Reality of a Poem

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Andrew Jackson, ca. 1840

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Andrew Jackson, ca. 1840 / Maine Historical Society

The mid 19th century also was known as the Jacksonian period. The democratic party, previously led and dominated by Andrew Jackson, its celebration of the common man was the intoxicant of the day. The irony was, while the common man was empowered to rule the day, he was rapidly losing his place in the evolving economic system. Blacksmiths and farmers were typically task orientated, folks who finished a job and moved on to the next task only when the last task was completed. The mills of Lowell were time disciplined, work was done until the whistle blew. The blacksmith could not mass produce on the scale of the mill girl at her water powered loom, nor could he afford to work like them in a time disciplined fashion. Add to this the mass immigration of willing labor from Ireland. The blacksmith's role in the complex and changing economic system was rapidly fading.

 

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