The First Midterm Assignment
The late-19th century was the most prolonged time period in American history and also what the bloodiest. Many violent events occurred that gave the 19th century its name, such as, profound labor conflicts between boss and workers, the Indian wars that was an extended battle for peace and a benefit in their lifestyles, the Jim Crow law which was established to separate races throughout the city, and also the fight for the American Empires power. These were the major issues that made the 19th century an important time period in American history.
Harsh working conditions have always posed as an issue in American History but in the late 19th boycott and strikes arose when cities and factories developed such as the Carnegie Company, which made businesses have a higher demand for workers. “Factories often maintained poor health and safety conditions. American industry had the highest accident rate in the world. (Tindall, 590)” In factories there were mostly women, children, and immigrants that worked in factories, mills, mines, and canneries. These were dangerous places for children, “Few machines had safety devices, and few factories or mills had ventilation fans or fire escapes. (Tindall, 590)” Also, “Children suffered three times as many accidents as adult workers, and respiratory diseases were common in the unventilated buildings. (Tindall, 590-591)” After the request for higher wages were not fulfilled, disorganized protest arranged called the
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In the first half of the 19th Century the working class in the newly industrializing American society suffered many forms of exploitation. The working class of the mid-nineteenth century, with constant oppression by the capitalist and by the division between class, race, and ethnicity, made it difficult to form solidarity. After years of oppression and exploitation by the ruling class, the working class struck back and briefly paralyzed American commerce. The strike, which only lasted a few weeks, was the spark needed to ignite a national revolt by the working class with the most violent labor upheavals of the century.
During the early stages of the Twentieth Century, the labor force was focused more on industrial jobs than agricultural jobs as technology was evolving. About 24 million Americans ranging from 10 years and above were employed. The number of women working in the workforce was about 19 percent as children in the workforce was about 6 percent of the labor force. The work force was dominated by men as culture deemed them to be superior than women. Children worked as some parents couldn’t provide enough for their families, so they sent their children off to work in dangerous conditions. As the second industrial revolution was nearing its end, many people were employed in factories which received low pay and dangerous conditions as the average week was 53 hours. At the start of the 20th Century, only 15 percent of people that got injured in the workplace were successful in suing their employer and received money for the damages. This type of exposure of human labor would cause a shift in the labor force as
Life in the early 1900’s wasn’t easy. Competition for jobs was at an all time high, especially in New York City. Immigrants were flooding in and needed to find work fast, even if that meant in the hot, overcrowded conditions of garment factories. Conditions were horrid and disaster was inevitable, and disaster did strike in March, 1911. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York set on fire, killing 146 workers. This is an important event in US history because it helped accomplish the tasks unions and strikes had tried to accomplish years earlier, It improved working conditions in factories nationwide and set new safety laws and regulations so that nothing as catastrophic would happen again. The workplace struggles became public after
The younger boys who worked at the mines were called breaker boys. They didn’t work in the mine itself, but sat on benches and picked out the bits of rock from the coal. “These children worked in the picking room, a crowded, high-ceilinged vault, crisscrossed with rickety catwalks and crooked stairs, lit only by a wall of grime-choked windows” (Levine, Marvin J. "Mines, Mills, and Canneries." Children for Hire: The Perils of Child Labor in the United States. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003. 21. Print.) Within factories, small children had to work fast at the machines, being very careful unless an unfortunate body part happens to get caught in the high-powered, dangerous machinery. For several long hours in rooms without fresh air, ventilation, and sometimes, no windows, the working conditions that the children suffered through were appalling. There are children who work in hazardous industries, risking accident and injury; there are others working in conditions that take a slower but definite toll on the children’s health (Basu, Kaushik, and Pham Hoang Van. "The Economics of Child Labor" The Economics of Child Labor (1998): 412-27. Print.).
In the late 1800s and the early 1900s, labor was anything but easy. Factory workers faced long hours, low pay, high unemployment fears, and poor working conditions during this time. Life today is much easier in comparison to the late 1800s. Americans have shorter days, bigger pay and easier working conditions. Not comparable to how life is today, many riots sparked, and citizens began to fight for equal treatment. Along with other important events, the Haymarket Riot, the Pullman Strike, and the Homestead strike all play a vital role in illustrating labor’s struggle to gain fair and equitable treatment during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The ensuing conflict, between labor vs. capital, during the late 1800s initiated a struggle of power in the workforce between the rich-industrialists (or corporate leaders) and the middle-class/lower-class workers. The Capitalists had intervened with the protests orchestrated by the workers, ensuring that the power remains with them. The strategies of the industrialists and the unique ways of protesting from the workers, contributes to spur a vigorous argument between the employers and their employees. The workers tried their best to ameliorate their working conditions by forming numerous unions, trying to fix currency (gold to paper) to economically help themselves, refusing to go to work, resorting to violence and non-violence, etc. However, the Corporate leaders kept an upper hand and dissolved the workers’ ambitions by hiring scabs, creating a strong relationship with the military (Pullman strike), controlling and fixing policies at work, hiring immigrants for cheap labor, etc. Throughout the late 1800s, the corporate leaders have been able to successfully prevent workers who had resorted to: forming unions, protests (ex. Pullman strike and Homestead strike), violence (ex. Haymarket Sq. Riot), etc., from achieving a radical solution to the workers issues with the management by using several different strategies including but not limited to: hiring scabs/immigrants in the Homestead strike, using government support in the Pullman strike and keeping the power on their side
After the civil war, up until the early 1900s, the need for a larger workforce grew as industrialization expanded. Samuel Slater brought the industrial revolution from England, and even since then, there were people trying to get better working conditions. Due to the growth in population by immigrants and expansion of industrialization, the working conditions became worse and worse, causing workers to suffer. Many people fought to solve this problem and changed many American’s lives for the better.
Crises, such as the great railroad strike of 1877, Homestead strike of 1892, Pullman strike of 1894, and the depression of 1893-1894, were results from the rise of industrial capitalism. By 1900, America produced one-third of the world’s goods. Due to this, cities became polluted and overcrowded, and became breeding grounds for diseases like typhoid and cholera. The working situations were not much better, with unskilled industrial laboring class, child labor, low wages, locked fire doors, and allowance of toxic fumes in the factories; many people were disgusted by the way America’s economy grew, while its people were left in poor health.
The working conditions of the new arrivals were hardly any better, as employees of factories were often overworked, underpaid, and penned up in dangerous conditions. Perhaps the horrors of these conditions can be highlighted by the devastating 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. Tragically, over one hundred young women lost their lives in the fire, as there was no way to get out, and the doors were locked, trapping the women inside. Safety was not the only problem, as workers initially were not given the right to organize into unions, essentially doomed to the repetitive motions of factory operation. This meant that they had no way to protest against child labor, wage slavery, and unhealthily long working hours. Eventually, with their growing clout and ever-present industrial dependence on their labor, workers organized and demanded reform along all aspects of hazardous working conditions.
The practice of Child Labor in America in the early 1900s had a devastating impact on generations of children. This mainly impacted children of poor and disadvantaged families; these families tended to suffer from generations of debt or were new immigrants to America. These children worked long hours which they did not get paid nearly enough for. They worked hard, dangerous jobs daily. In the 1900s, children chose to support their families in times of need rather than furthering their education, for which they did not get paid nearly enough. These jobs affected their health poorly and had a negative impact on their childhood and development. Children of poor families in cities suffered the most during the Industrial Revolution, because they had to work long hours, did hard jobs, and often sacrificed their health and education to support their struggling families.
Between the years 1870-1900, Americans began to respond to the effects fostered by these corporations. From urban factory workers to rural farmers, Americans began to organize against these big businesses. With mass industrialization, more job’s were made available to women, these jobs were often in factories with terrible conditions, sweatshops. There was a sameness about working in mass production factories. Thus, working in these modern mass production factories created a homogenous environment that diminished individualism and the need for skilled workers. (Doc. C) Strikers were common during this era, workers participated in strikes and joined labor unions, such as The American Federation of Labor and the Knights of Labor, due to the terrible working conditions. The American Federation of Labor, headed by Samuel Gompers, was specifically for skilled workers and argued for better wages and a reduction in working hours. (Doc. G) Although urban workers were greatly impacted by the growth of these corporations, they were not the ones. Farmers, suffered
In the mid-1800s lots of things were being made by machine. For example: clothing, shoes, watches, guns, and farming machines were made. In 1840 the workday was 11 ½ hours. The workers were very tired and they most likely would have accidents. Workers and even children were hurt a lot by the machines. In the summer they were hot and in the winter they were cold, because there was not air conditioning or a heater in the factories. There were no laws to help the working conditions, and even to protect them. The owners didn't care about the workers, they cared about the money. Children would work six days a week and 12 hours or more a day. In the factories it was really hard and dangerous. Children would work the machines
On March 25, 1911 in the New York City’s West village 146 people mainly young women immigrants of Italian and Jewish background perished. The women, some just teenagers would work long hours in the factory sewing shirtwaist high necked cottons blouses which were the fashion staple of the time for young women. The owners of the Triangle Shirt waist factory would lock the doors while the women worked, said to prevent “theft” and the visit of union reps to the location. What lead to the fire was the unsanitary factory floor. This was the exact reason to why before the actual fire, 400 of the factories employees went on strike. During this strike the women fought for better wages and safer working conditions. Unfortunately they only won some of their concessions on pay, but little was actually done by the factories owner who continued to keep the workplace in shambles. As well as the doors still locked.
The early 1900s was a time of many movements, from the cities to the rural farms; people were uniting for various causes. One of the most widespread was the labor movement, which affected people far and wide. Conditions in the nation’s workplaces were notoriously poor, but New York City fostered the worst. Factories had started out in the city’s tenements, which were extremely cramped, poorly ventilated, and thoroughly unsanitary. With the advent of skyscrapers, factories were moved out of the tenements and into slightly larger buildings, which still had terrible conditions. Workers were forced to work long hours (around 12 hours long) six hours a day, often for extremely low pay. The pay was also extremely lower for women, who made up a
Two years after the infamous Triangle fire, 20,000 workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts; angered over wage cuts and deplorable conditions went on strike, prompting the twin reactions of police brutality and press coverage (Hodson & Sullivan, 2008). “As a result of the strike, not only were wages raised and conditions improved in the textile industry as a whole, but important legislation was also enacted that restricted the exploitation of child and female labor” (Hodson & Sullivan, 2008, p. 132). It is doubtful that working conditions would have evolved to the level of equity we find today, without the sacrifice and activism of unions and their members.