See 1842 America Through Charles Dickens' Eyes

Dickens found his work readily available in Boston’s bookstores. Wikimedia

2. Boston was Dickens’ favorite city in America, according to American Notes

Dickens was as impressed with Boston as Boston was with its visitor. He stayed in the famous Parker House Hotel, which at the time called itself the most modern hotel in the world. During his stay in Boston he visited the mills in Lowell, Massachusetts, one of the first company towns in America. The mills, factories, and canals were built by mostly immigrant labor, and the mills themselves were staffed by young women called Mill Girls, who were also housed by the companies in Lowell. Mill Girls were charged for their room and board by their employer, leaving just over half of their daily pay for their personal use. Most came from rural New England communities.

Dickens wholeheartedly approved of the working conditions in the factories and mills. He found the recreational pursuits offered by the employers, which included music, reading libraries, and a Lowell newspaper which was widely read all laudable. He observed that none of the workers were forced there by debt or apprenticeship which bound them to their looms, noting, “for these girls (often the daughters of small farmers) come from other States, remain a few years in the mills, and then go home for good”. Dickens obliquely compared the conditions in the Lowell mills to those of England, calling it “the Good and Evil”.

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