The Year Was 1833

Chicago 1833 and 1883.bmpThe year was 1833 and with the growth of the Industrial Revolution, child labor abuses were coming to the attention of reformers. In England, the Factory Act of 1833 prohibited child worker under the age of nine and reduced the hours of children aged nine to thirteen to nine hours per day. Older children aged thirteen to eighteen were only allowed to work twelve-hour days. It also prohibited them from working between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. and required two hours of schooling in the day. However, this legislation was limited to the textiles and manufacturing industry “wherein steam or water or any other mechanical power is or shall be used to propel or work the machinery,” and only four inspectors were appointed to oversee all of the factories in England.

Another significant piece of legislation in Britain that year was the Slavery Abolition Act. The slave trade had been abolished in 1807, but the Slavery Abolition Act abolished slavery throughout British colonies, provided for the apprenticeship of freed slaves, and compensated former slave owners. 

The Abolitionist movement was beginning to gain momentum in the U.S. as well, with the formation of the American Anti-Slavery Society under the leadership of William Lloyd Garrison. Auxiliary societies under its banner grew to include between 150,000 and 200,000 people by 1840.

Many women took to the abolitionist cause. Some, like Prudence Crandall went further than joining the societies that were forming. Prudence operated a school for young ladies, and when an African American child, Sarah Harris, came to her and asked to be admitted so that she could teach other African American children, Prudence allowed her to attend. The move outraged the town of Canterbury and she responded by inviting more African American children to attend her school, establishing a school “for young Ladies and little Misses of color.”(1) She was eventually jailed for violating the recently passed “Black Law” which prohibited such establishments. Sarah Harris and several other students of Prudence Crandall went on to become teachers.

In Alabama, the Leonid Meteor shower caused quite a stir on a clear night in November 1833. At the time people were unfamiliar with the phenomenon and many thought that the falling stars were a sign that Judgment Day was upon them. The event is commemorated on some Alabama license plates with the slogan, “Stars Fell on Alabama.”
The city of Chicago can trace its roots back to 1833 when it was first established as a town of 350 people, occupying three-eighths of a square mile. By 1837, the fast growing city was incorporated with 4,170 people. (Click on the image to enlarge the poster showing Chicago in 1833 and 1883.)

One of Chicago’s first contributions to the world was a new form that was at first ridiculed as a “balloon construction.” It was thought to be too lightweight and flimsy to be of use, but the structure proved sturdy, using two-by-fours and factory made nails that created the frame–although the name stuck. This new form of construction made it easier and more inexpensive to build houses, making home-owning a more viable option for the masses. Many houses today use an adapted form of “balloon construction.”

(1) Collins, Gail. America’s Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines. (New York: Harper Collins, 2003)

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5 thoughts on “The Year Was 1833

  1. Where are the pictures of Chicago? I clicked on the link, but still can’t see the pics.

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