Blogs > Cliopatria > Follow-ups: Temperance Violence and Taiwan Barbie

Sep 20, 2004 12:14 am

Follow-ups: Temperance Violence and Taiwan Barbie

It's rare enough that my newspaper has news that I haven't already read online the night before, much less features of interest. So imagine my surprise this morning when I found two articles related not only to history but to issues discussed here recently; thank goodness for AP filler, is all I can say.

First, a ghost of methodismofascism past: the Massachusetts town of Rockport is considering ending a century and a half of temperance. Rockport's Dry status began with a bang, a crash, a thud, 148 years ago when 200 women followed 75 year old seamstress and herbalist Hannah Jumper on an ax-wielding rampage. One victim took the women to court, then appealed repeatedly, but the courts consistently found in favor of the women. Now, to repeal temperance, Rockport residents must vote for the change, submit a request to the state, get approval of both houses of the state legislature, the signature of the governor, then vote again to finally repeal Hannah Jumper's handiwork, probably just in time for the sesquicentenial thereof.

Then, a ghost of outsourcing past: The creation of a museum in Tiashan, Taiwan, the site of Mattel Corp.'s first overseas Barbietm plant [AP, Taiwan Journal]. For twenty years, starting in 1967, Mattel employed thousands of Taiwanese, and is credited with giving Taishan a crucial boost towards industrialization. Though the plant has been gone almost as long as it was there, local collectors (many of whom smuggled the parts out of the plants in their clothes) still treasure their Barbies, so much so that the museum only has a very few originals to display. Mattel's employment practices, which included higher-than-average wages, subsidized and free meals and education, have earned it an enduring reputation. Cheaper labor elsewhere, of course, led to the plant's closure.

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