American History: The Gilded Age Essay

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The Gilded Age was the last three decades of the nineteenth century, when America’s industrial economy exploded generating opportunities for individuals but also left many workers struggling for survival. With the many immigrants, skilled and unskilled, coming to America the labor system is becoming flooded with new employees. During this period, the immigrants, including the Italians, were unskilled and the skilled workers were usually American-born. There was also a divide in the workers and the robber barons. Robber barons were American capitalist who acquired great fortunes in the last nineteenth century, usually ruthlessly. There was much turmoil throughout the business and labor community. Two major organizations, the Knights of Labor and the American Federation of Labor, helped represent the workers in this time of chaos. The Knights of Labor, founded in 1869, were representing both skilled and unskilled workers. They were quite popular with a large boost in membership becoming the biggest union in 1885. They sought for equal pay and equal work. All were welcomed to the Knights of Labor; there was no discrimination on race, gender, or sex. They called for an eight-hour day in order to reduce fatigue and for safety issues. The Knights of Labor Declaration of Principles states their purpose is to “make industrial and moral worth, not wealth” (Reading 9, p. 1). This means the moral worth is to what they could contribute to society rather than monetary gains. They were…

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