An Orderly & Decent Government: Significant Events & Developments, 1866-1887

The Rise of the Factory

The Civil War propelled Colt, New Haven‘s Remington Arms, and other Connecticut weapons producers to new heights of production. The state’s munitions industry maintained its growth after the war through aggressive sales campaigns aimed at domestic and foreign governments.

Unemployed men camping out in Hartford

Built in 1865, the massive Ponemah Mills complex in Taftville typified the new scale and power of Connecticut industry in the years after the Civil War. In the Depression of the 1870s the owners of Ponemah Mills attempted to reduce costs by slashing wages and raising the rents for company-owned worker housing. In the bitter strike that ensued, hundreds of workers were replaced. Strikes were frequent throughout the period: 25 in 1881; 144 in 1886; 126 in 1901.

The Depression of 1873-78

The Depression of 1873-78 was the first great crisis of the industrial era. Thousands lost their jobs and roamed Connecticut in search of work. Alarmed citizens urged the General Assembly to address “the great and growing evil caused by the march of tramps through the state.”

Paralleling the growth of factories and mills across the state was the rise of “white collar” industries such as insurance.

This article is a panel reproduction from An Orderly and Decent Government, an exhibition on the history of representative government in Connecticut developed by Connecticut Humanities and put on display in the Capitol concourse of the Legislative Office Building, Hartford, Connecticut.

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