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Redeeming TimeProtestantism and Chicago's Eight-Hour Movement, 1866-1912$
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William A. Mirola

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038839

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038839.001.0001

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Opening Eight-Hour Protests and the 1867 Eight-Hour Law

Opening Eight-Hour Protests and the 1867 Eight-Hour Law

(p.43) Chapter 2 Opening Eight-Hour Protests and the 1867 Eight-Hour Law
Redeeming Time

William A. Mirola

University of Illinois Press

This chapter looks at the first eight-hour-day campaign of 1866–67 in Chicago, which resulted in the first eight-hour law in the United States. The first eight-hour movement began shortly before the end of the Civil War, spearheaded by Boston mechanic Ira Steward and George McNeill and was soon taken up by native-born and British craft workers joined by German and Irish workers in Chicago. In 1865, Scottish printer Andrew C. Cameron formed Chicago's Grand Eight Hour League as a political organization independent of both the Republican and the Democratic Parties, with fourteen branches operating across the city hosting mass meetings, further pushing state and local politicians to support eight-hour reform. Initial eight-hour agitation quickly produced new arguments for shorter hours that capitalized on the themes of freedom and equality that had been crafted by the abolitionist movement to end slavery but also on themes familiar to those steeped in a heavily Protestant religious culture.

Keywords:   eight-hour-day campaign, eight-hour law, eight-hour movement, Grand Eight Hour League, eight-hour reform, abolitionist movement, slavery, Protestant religious culture

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