Massachusetts: The Growth of the Cities and the Labor Movement

The Growth of the Cities and the Labor Movement

The rise of industrialism was accompanied by a growth of cities, although the small mill town, where the factory hands lived in company houses and traded in the company store, remained important. Labor unions struggled for recognition in a long, weary battle marked by strikes, sometimes violent, as was the case in the Lawrence textile strike of 1912.

World War I, which caused a vast increase in industrial production, improved the lot of workers, but not of Boston policemen, who staged and lost their famous strike in 1919. For his part in breaking the strike, Gov. Calvin Coolidge won national fame and went on to become vice president and then president, the third Massachusetts citizen (after John Adams and John Quincy Adams) to hold the highest office in the land. The Sacco-Vanzetti Case, following the police strike, attracted international attention, as liberals raged over the seeming lack of regard for the spirit of the law in a state that had given the nation such an eminent jurist as Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841–1935). Labor unions finally came into their own in the 1930s under the New Deal.

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