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The factory system on the rise of labor movements in the period before the Civil War Essay

The factory system that developed in the early nineteenth century utilized new complex technology to manufacture consumer items on a large scale.  These products, traditionally produced by families in their homes or by small shops in a “cottage industry,” could now, by means of the machines and assembly lines of the factory system, be turned out of large facilities in standardized qualities, and by a mass of workers in tremendous volumes.

These workers were pulled away from their farms and homes in the countryside to be housed together and to labor side by side in the factory shops.  In these conditions the workers could be organized, supervised, trained, and managed efficiently.

As a result of these machines and organizing methods, the cost of the finished consumer products fell dramatically, driving small shops and craftsmen out of business.  Intense competition developed between competing factories and their owners, and this led to the ruthless exploitation of labor, including the abuse of women and children, the working of long hours without rest, and meager wages, as the primary ways of cutting costs and increasing competitive advantage.

The factory system allowed for the accumulation of enormous profits to the owners, but the workers grew increasingly weary of these oppressions and so they began to organize themselves into unions for collective actions and collective bargaining, to develop and consume anti-capitalist philosophies such as those taught by socialists and communists, and to go on strikes.  In the beginning, governments in Europe and the U.S. generally sided with the factory owners and helped to suppress worker strikes, but workers continued over time to resist, to organize themselves, and to agitate for change.

1)      Chief Justice John Marshall emphasized that the Constitution gave Congress the power to make all “necessary and proper laws” needed to carry out its delegated powers. How did the necessary and proper clause apply to the case of McCulloch v. Maryland? What was the impact of this clause on the scope of federal power?

In 1817 a dispute arose between the Maryland Legislature and the Second Bank of the United States.  The Bank, without charter of the legislature, began operations in Baltimore, and set about competing with other duly-authorized banks.  In response, “on February 11, 1818, the General Assembly of Maryland passed an act entitled, “an act to impose a tax on all banks, or branches thereof, in the State of Maryland, not chartered by the legislature.”

James McCulloch, head of the Baltimore Branch of the Second Bank of the United States, refused to pay the tax.  Maryland sought collection, and asserted that the Constitution of the United States gave no specific authorization for the Federal Government to charter a bank, and in court, Maryland won the case.  The Bank appealed to the Supreme Court, where Chief Justice Marshall overturned the decision and forever altered to nature and expression of federal power.

Marshall cited the “necessary and proper clause” of the Constitution, asserting that this empowered Congress to employ any means necessary to achieve any objectives that are not specifically forbidden by the Constitution.  He said “let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consist with the letter and spirit of the constitution, are constitutional.”

The Federal Government has since employed this precedent repeatedly to justify ordinary and controversial legislation and centralization of authority, to the extent that the several States retain exclusive jurisdiction over practically nothing.

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