From 1842 to 1844, German philosopher FRIEDRICH ENGELS (1820-1895) lived in Manchester, England, and witnessed firsthand the impact of the nation's burgeoning Industrial Revolution on the poor. In this classic treatise, Engels documents, in what is today his best-known work, the terrible working conditions, rampant disease, overcrowded housing, child labor, and other horrors of the time.
Originally intended for a German audience and translated for American readers in 1885 by American socialist, suffragette, and civil rights activist FLORENCE KELLEY WISCHNEWETZKY (1859-1932), this work has never been out of print. It remains a startling record of the era, and is must-reading for anyone wishing a deeper understanding of Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto, which Engels collaborated on with his friend only a few years later.
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Friedrich Engels is perhaps best remembered as the confidant, colleague, and benefactor of Karl Marx. Born into a Calvinist family that owned fabric mills in the Rhineland and had business interests in Manchester, England, Engels joined the family business at age 16; he never had a formal university education. Despite his family's industrial background, Engels was sympathetic to the poverty of the working masses. At age 18 he published an attack on industrial poverty, and later joined the Hegelian movement that so influenced Marx and bothered conservative Prussian authorities. Engels first met Marx in 1842, while Marx was editor of a radical newspaper in Cologne. However, they did not establish their lifelong friendship until they met again in Paris two years later. Engels published several works related to economics, the first of which, Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy (1844), attempted to reconcile Hegelian philosophy with the principles of political economy. His second book, The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845), was a damning description and condemnation of the poverty generated by the Industrial Revolution. Engels also co-authored three major works with Marx, the most important being the Communist Manifesto (1948). Engels also wrote several historical works, which are more important to historians than to economists. These include The Peasant War in Germany (1850), Germany: Revolution and Counter-Revolution (1851), and The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884). In general, these works are more descriptive than theoretical, and they closely parallel Marx's views on industrialization and class struggle. In addition to being a friend of Marx, Engels was his prime benefactor for a number of years. During their early years in London, beginning in 1849, the Marx family was nearly destitute, and it was only through the generosity of Engels that they prevailed. Engels was also responsible for the publication of Marx's Das Kapital. Before his death, Marx was only able to complete the first volume of this work, and so Engels edited and arranged for the publication of the last two volumes after Marx's death. Engels was an engaging and thoughtful writer. It was perhaps his great fortune and misfortune that he was connected so closely to Marx. On the one hand, he was responsible for bringing much of Marx's work to fruition in his role as benefactor and editor. On the other hand, the shadow of Marx eclipsed some of the exposure that Engels's own ideas and contributions might have had.