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Sweatshops at SeaMerchant Seamen in the World's First Globalized Industry, from 1812 to the Present$
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Leon Fink

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834503

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807877807_fink

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Wave of Reform: The Sailor's Friend and the Drift toward a Welfare State

Wave of Reform: The Sailor's Friend and the Drift toward a Welfare State

(p.67) 3 Wave of Reform: The Sailor's Friend and the Drift toward a Welfare State
Sweatshops at Sea

Leon Fink

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter illustrates how the plight of the ordinary seaman commanded much attention from the British public in the mid-1870s. To be sure, evidence of the problem abounded. Since 1830, some 20 percent of the nation's seamen regularly died at sea—in some passages of the coal trade, the casualty rate of ships reached an astounding 70 percent—and the men themselves did not have much recourse. In 1870–72 alone, 1,628 sailors were sent to jail for refusing to go to sea in ships they feared “unworthy.” Yet, although social causes have multiple and complex triggers, so too do they sometimes depend on the power of a single reformer to bring their message into crystalline focus. The names William Wilberforce and William Lloyd Garrison are thus inextricably associated with the campaigns against the slave trade and the evil of slavery more generally.

Keywords:   ordinary seaman, British public, coal trade, social causes, William Wilberforce, William Lloyd Garrison

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