31 Aug / 2017

Profits Before People: Assassinations, Disasters and Child Labor

Profits Before People: Assassinations, Disasters & Child Labor

What are the worst job conditions you have ever experienced or known about? What were your biggest concerns? Join Horrific History co-hosts, Eric Slyter and Curtis Bender, as they scratch the surface on the long struggle for workers’ rights in human history when the profit margins of the rich and powerful have hung in the balance. From Venice to pre-Soviet Russia, Europe to the United States, the guys cover a lot of space and time in this episode while discussing some of the precursors to different labor movements and our modern Labor Day.


Learn about the Italian glass industry monopoly so coveted that the purchase of their work could have bankrupted a country. Its success, in large part due to its workers’ isolation in a “gilded cage” on the island of Moreno, allowed some to “marry up” while others feared a private police force which could carry out assassinations of themselves and their loved ones with impunity. While many trade secrets and stones or minerals played a part in its history, it would be too much to hope that the Bologna stone would be a part of this deadly tale colored by King Louis of France, the Sun King.


Industrial and agricultural revolutions, urbanization and immigrant workers taking low-paying jobs with poor working conditions (contemporary to the building of the Brooklyn Bridge which we covered in an earlier episode), it all plays a part in setting the stage for later strikes, unions and organized labor movements. You’ll even hear about the Pemberton Mill collapse which had new textile cotton workers later seeing apparitions. Discover the truly horrifying conditions, worker mistreatment and wealth inequality which led people to organize despite police and military actions against them. You’ll also learn about some of the awful conditions and gruesome bloody (accidental) deaths which led to the development of some child labor laws!


Assassinations, tenement laws and incendiary devices, this episode has it all. Whether you are interested in wars, the emancipation of serfdom, sham political parties or the Great Depression, you’ll get all the horrible details we could fit into this episode… just remember, no squeam allowed!


So sit back and enjoy the benefits of a few government (and building!) regulations after a long day at work while listening to this new Horrific History episode! Come back next time when we talk about the plants that can kill you.


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If you are interested in How the Other Half Lives: A Jacob Riis Classic (Including Photography), the work mentioned by Eric during this episode, you can find it on Amazon.

Or the movie, Snowpiercer, which Eric referenced can also be found on Amazon.

The Iron Maiden song, The Trooper, can be watched/listened to on YouTube.

Some of our favorite resources from this week’s episode:



Horrific History Podcast


Commercial break music by Dead but Dreaming.

Slideshow photo credit: postaletrice Breaker Boys (1906) via photopin (license)

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5 thoughts on “Profits Before People: Assassinations, Disasters and Child Labor”

  1. […] So put on your eclipse glasses and pull out your Aztec sun stone to keep time as you listen to this Horrific History Podcast episode through one of your favorite podcast services (iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and more); we’ll provide you with your own little collection of cosmic harbingers of doom to keep you entertained while you look out into space, the final squeam-teir. Come back again in two weeks to hear our Labor Day and horrible in history episode. […]

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