"The Swifts constituted a particular segment of Cobb's late-nineteenth century compositors, men who became famous by winning typesetting races," Rumble writes. "Along with their cash prizes and their fame, the brash independence of those fast typesetters impressed others of their trade, and by the 1880s fellow printers acclaimed them as working-class heroes."
Unfortunately for them, the forces that Winter saw at work in 1864 would wipe out the trade—and the races—after Ottmar Mergenthaler created the the Linotype machine in 1884.
And, though Winter was writing long before that machine's debut, he supported the idea of getting rid of human labor, especially in the work of "Composition."
"It is only of late that machinery has been successfully employed in the most laborious and expensive process connected with the art of printing, —that, namely, of Composition," he wrote. "In this process, however, iron fingers have proved so much better than fingers of flesh, that it is perfectly safe to predict the speedy discontinuance, by all sensible printers, of composition by hand."
It may have taken 25 years for that to happen, but Winter was correct. And, he argued, it would actually be better for the men who worked in printing.
"The composing-room of a large daily paper, for instance, presents, day and night, a spectacle of the almost ceaseless industry of jaded operatives. The need of relief in this respect was long ago recognized," he wrote.
And so, what they needed was to be liberated from the drudgery of their gainful employment. Then, because of the cost reductions that would come from the automation, the market for papers would expand.
They are frequently badly lighted and worse ventilated rooms, wherein workmen elbow each other at closely set cases, and grow dyspeptic under the combined pressure of foul air and irritating and long-protracted labor. All this should be changed. With the composing machine would come an atmosphere of order and cleanliness and activity, making work rapid and agreeable, and lessening the period of its duration. I know that working-men are suspicious of scientific devices. But surely the compositor need not fear that the iron-handed automaton will snatch the bread out of his hand. To diminish the cost of any article produced—which is the almost immediate result of substituting machinery for hand-labor—is to expand the market for that article.
Furthermore, Winter argued, people would always be needed to tend the machines, so capital could not completely replace labor.
The Sewing Machine has not injured the seamstress. The Power-Press has not injured hte pressman. The Type-Setting Machine will not injure the compositor. Skilled labor, which must always be combined with the inventor's appliances for aiding it, so far from dreading harm in such association, may safely anticipate, in the far-reaching economy of science, ampler reward, and better health, an increase of prosperity, and a longer and happier life in which to enjoy it.
And on top of all that, the machines would also provide a moral example to the worker by the regular workings of their machinery. The workers would become more like the machines, and that would be a good thing.