Background Information on the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire


Identity #2 Joseph Smith, Shirtwaist Factory Manager



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Identity #2
Joseph Smith, Shirtwaist Factory Manager
You are Joseph Smith, and you own the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. You feel very bad about how many women lost their lives, but it certainly isn’t your fault. The doors of the factory needed to be locked to keep the women working and to keep the women from stealing cloth. When you tried unlocking the doors, women left early and many yards of cloth were missing. It is your job to see that the factory owner had the greatest amount of profit with the lowest possible costs. The more machines that you put in the factory, the more cloth you can prepare and the more money the factory can make. The government talks about making the owners improve conditions, but they don’t offer us any money to help with the cost. If the owner had to spend thousands of dollars to improve the fire escapes and to install a sprinkler system, dozens of workers would have to be laid off to pay for it. Why isn’t anyone blaming the fire department? They should have taller ladders to rescue people when a fire occurs. If the fire department had longer ladders, many of these women wouldn’t have jumped to their deaths. Besides, Fire Marshall Beers said that there are more than 140 buildings in this city that are more dangerous than this. Also, these women came here even though they knew that it was dangerous, and although it is sad that many died, no one forced them to work.

Write a letter to the newspaper explaining your side of the story.




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