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Situated on the Passaic River, the New Jersey city of Paterson is the seat of Passaic County. It is nicknamed "Silk City" du to its dominance in silk production in the late 1800s. In 1792, America's first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, founded an investment group known as the Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufacture, or SUM. SUM had as its mission the promotion of industrial development along the Passaic River, and specifically the management of the Great Falls of the Passaic River as a power source for grist mills. This group and its work played a major role in the growth of Paterson and its position as one of the first industrial centers in the still-fledgling country. The industrialization of Paterson, and indeed, the region, came in three waves: cotton, steel, and then silk. In the early 20th century, Paterson was embroiled in labor unrest, including child labor legislation, minimum wage, workplace safety, and reasonable working hours. This struggle led to the Paterson Silk Strike of 1913, which shut dow three hundred silk mills and dye houses and lasted for nearly five months.

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