This introductory chapter argues that studies of the industrialization of rural places like Hancock County can help in understanding the nature of industrial capitalism, particularly the relationship between capital mobility and the working class. Industries periodically entered periods of crisis that required a general restructuring for companies to remain profitable, and relocations were a key component in the process. In “undeveloped” rural areas, some manufacturers believed that they could create new environments free of discord and find grateful and compliant pool of rural laborers—often women and other low-wage workers—to surround the core of handpicked skilled workers. Thus, manufacturers' old labor problems and their high hopes for an improved workforce figured prominently in the migration of capital to rural places. Eventually, rural migrants and young people from local farms brought their own ideas, goals, and culture—distinct from those of the skilled craftsmen—and came to constitute a truly rural-industrial workforce.
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