Movable Type

Jacob Remes

in Workers Across the Americas

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199731633
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894420 | DOI:
Movable Type

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Today, nation is often the paramount category organizing scholarship, politics, and other identities. Nations, states, and labor markets are imagined as coterminous; when they are not, it must be corrected or explained. But it has not always been so. Studying the Toronto members of the International Typographical Union, this chapter explores the communities in which skilled workers placed themselves in the early years of Canadian confederation: a North American working class, a British imperial nation, and a Canadian polity. As North American workers, they made claims on their employers (for higher wages and shorter hours) and their fellows (to respect their union's authority); as British subjects, they made claims on the larger public (to support their right to organize and strike); and as Canadians, they made claims on their elected officials and the state (to change specific laws). Their group memberships overlapped, and printers accessed them as they found them relevant. As their monthly meeting minutes, their sojourns back and forth across the border, the newspaper they began publishing during an important strike, and their political activism in the election of 1872 show, Toronto's printers operated when neither they nor others expected nation, state, and labor market to be congruent.

Keywords: printers; Toronto; International Typographical Union; nation; state; labor market

Chapter.  11360 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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