His 106: Week 2 Notes
His 106: Week 2 Notes His 106
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hailey Hansen on Friday September 2, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to His 106 at University of Mississippi taught by Jared Heath Roll in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 211 views.
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Date Created: 09/02/16
The Ghost of Casey Jones: Capitalism and Technology To recap what we covered last week: 1876 was a year for celebrating national unity and rising economic power. It marked the beginning of reconciliation for the nation. While the future seemed bright for many due to new technological advances, it was not bright for all. There was still war with the Native Americans who resisted economic expansion. Technology affected all lives. (REMEMBER: MACHINES WERE THOUGHT TO LIBERATE MANKIND.) These technological marvels were put into motion by men in search of profit – this is known as industrial capitalism. They sought to expand production beyond what was previously thought possible. Achievements of Reconstruction 13 Amendment (1865) th Formally abolished slavery 14 Amendment (1868) o Granted citizenship to all those who were born in the U.S. o This included former slaves th 15 Amendment (1870) o Granted voting rights for all men o Still excluded women Civil Right Act of 1875 o Called for equal treatment of African Americans in public settings o Wanted to create a “level playing field” o Brought about a central contradiction – the freedom and independence that freedmen craved was granted by military occupation in the South Ideology of the Republican Party Free market capitalism o What is capitalism? Put simply, it occurs when individuals engage in trade in a marketplace for private gain. o Money is power Free labor o Selling skills in an open market place o Those who are more skilled will profit Reconstruction aimed at freeing slavery and wanted freedmen to have the same opportunities as everyone else. They wanted to give them what slavery denied them. Republican Emphasis on Railroads Pacific Railroad Act (1862) Northern Pacific Railroad Act (1864) o Both of these acts were passed in order to build a transcontinental railroad line from coast to coast. Public land grants Government bonds o Grants and bonds were given to sell land to private railroad corporations o One grant gave 100 million acres of land, which equates to the size of California, or 3 Mississippis. Railroads Private corporations lead to new waves of investment in stock and bonds – this includes public and private investment. o In 1830, the New York Stock Exchange had 31 trades per day. o By 1886, they had 1 million trades per day. These were mostly railroad stocks. Railroads attract investment. Through railroads, the government sought to rebuild society. This led to dramatic expansion. (See the railroad maps on Blackboard.) The railroads brought together communities – they were literally connected in ways that were not previously possible. Because the railroads were the biggest businesses, they required multiple layers of management. (Pennsylvania Railroad employed 55,000 employees, which was the largest at this time.) The railroads not only received the land to build the tracks on, they also received land around the tracks. They planned to use this land for money making, and sold it to families and companies in order to populate the West. In other words, the railroads were establishing where people go. Fun fact: Yellowstone National Park was established largely due to the railroads. Time Railroads started to bend time itself. Because there was no unified concept of time, every town had a different time. In 1862, the government created the Federal Time and Distance Indicator. In 1883, four time zones were created, which became federal law. Technological Innovation Technological innovation became a vehicle for private investment. This can be seen in the fact that all life depended on the railroads. Human society was put on pace with machines. In other words, machines dictated human life. Machines began to enter every industry, providing exponential increase in making profits. One such technological innovation was the standard gauge, which allowed trains to run on more than one track. (Before this, each railroad company had its own gauge, so trains could not cross tracks.) This then led to the creation of “junction cities” where there were many railroads. Music Railroads were so integrated into society that they became music themselves. John Henry was a track layer in Virginia who was known for his ability to drive steel. The railroad company decided they couldn’t build fast enough, so they bought machines to substitute for human labor. Henry challenged the machine to a race to see who could build the track faster. He won the race, but instantly dropped dead. Casey Jones was an engineer on the Mississippi Central railroad. He was known for his obsession with staying on time. One day he was running late, so he was speeding out of anger. He plowed straight into a freight train and was killed. o There are now songs about both men. This ties back in to the idea that the machine has to be obeyed and dictates human life. They are engines of potential prosperity and danger. Economic Hardship Jay Cooke was a banker and railroad financer. In 1873 the largest bank in the U.S. goes bankrupt. It sold too many bonds for the Northern Pacific railroad company and the stock collapsed. o Overselling of bonds was due to his overexuberant faith in the railroads This was the start of a 7 year economic depression. Alternative Visions What is wage labor? When an individual sells their labor on an open marketplace under a formal or informal contract Labor The machine brought about a new regime of time. They changed how people worked. Before the Civil War, workers were governed by the sun – meaning they worked from sunrise to sunset. Machines now allowed workers to be paid for their time. This concept is known as an hourly wage (how we are paid today). The higher skill that was required to do a job meant that the worker would be paid a higher wage. However, the majority of jobs required little or no skill. This mindset made humans servants to the machine. Industry In 1870, there were 2 million manufacturing workers in the U.S. In 1900, this statistic rose to 5 million workers. Industry represented a power lure away from farms. It excited a dream of joining the forces of the progress of modern life. This inspired the migration from farms with rural people seeking opportunity to improve their lives. Industrial Cities Working and living conditions were unpleasant in industrial cities (such as the Carnegie Steel plant in Pittsburg). o 10 hour days with 6 day weeks o Child labor o Slums, sewage, violence REMEMBER: Humans were now forced to follow the unrelenting pace of the machine. In the 1870s, 1 out of every 6 workers were women. The numbers are the same for children between the ages of 1015. o To them, a child’s life was cheap. If a child was injured or even killed, it was no big deal because they had no spouse or children to deal with. They could be paid very little, and they were seen as being easily replaceable and dispensable. Many workers were immigrants who looked to growing industrial cities for new opportunities. Many came from: o Germany o Great Britain o Scandinavia o China o Italy o AustriaHungarian Empire o Poland o Eastern Russian Empire Industrial America was chaotic – it was not a place that was suitable for comfortable living. You had to live wherever and however you could. There was little accommodation for sanitation – they had no sewage or clean water. Depression of 1870s The depression of the 1870s showed how unstable capitalism could be. REMEMBER: Capitalism is dynamic and chaotic – there are booms and busts The 7 year depression caused the factories to come to a halt and wages had to be lowered. There was widespread misery across industrial America. However, the depression was not hard for all; Carnegie, Vanderbilt, and Rockefeller all made their money in the depths of the depression. This showed the profound imbalance of wealth in America. The richest 10% of people held 70% of the nation’s wealth. At this time, income tax did not exist. An income tax was even proposed for the richest 10%, but was ruled unconstitutional. Great Uprising of 1877 This uprising began in West Virginia when the railroads cut wages by 10% but increased dividends to shareholders by 10%. (To better understand this, if you earn $500, but cut it by 10%, you lose $50.) This wage cut caused workers to go on strike. The governor of West Virginia, as well as the governor of Maryland, called in the militia to deal with the strikers – battle erupts and the militia open fire on the strikers. This causes the strike to spread to Pittsburg. Workers burned down the central railroad hub. Philadelphia militia opens fire on the strikers. The strikes gain power from the oppression. The strike spread along the railroads and led to what is known as the Battle of Pittsburg. The strike spread to faraway places such as St. Louis, Kansas City, and even Omaha. The strike was able to spread so far due to the recognition of a common experience and a common enemy between the workers. The strike is eventually shut down due to the overwhelming armed power of the militia. This led to the creation of the National Guard, which was meant to wage war against those who rebelled against industrial capitalism. Organized Political Parties The spirit of the strike lived on, and workers realized they needed to organize politically. They created the Workingmen’s Party in 18771878, and the name was changed to the Socialist Labor Party of America in 18781901. This party was the forerunner of the communist party. However, the party didn’t get very far due to the already established strength of the Republican and Democratic parties. o Henry George addresses the central problem in America in his book Progress and Poverty (1879). He asked why poverty came with progress. This contradiction brought up a new organization known as the Knights of Labor. They wanted to organize society on more equal terms. They wanted: o Organize labor to counter big business o Secure labor its share of wealth o Cooperative stores/business o Public land for settlers o Health and safety laws in the workplace o Arbitration of disputes o No child labor o Equal pay for equal work between men and women o 8 hour days o National money, not private bank notes Their main political goal focused on the 8 hour work day. Fun fact: This party founded Labor Day. Discussion Notes Review “The Tournament of Today” in the American Yawp Reader. What does it symbolize? The monopoly of capitalism – the railroads, in other words – overpowers the labor force. The capitalists seem larger and placed above the common folk, who are the majority. The strike was all the workers had, which shows how feeble it was against the railroads. The masses have no armor and therefore nothing to protect themselves with. The railroad attacks the workers with press, and uses the monopoly as armor. The workers had no chance to overcome the railroad. America’s Butcher Chicago – the meat packing industry. Chicago was seen as a center of disgust within the nation. Why is this an industry? Perhaps due to convenience, with people moving away from farms and with the population increase in urban areas. The railroads created the need for food distribution in a whole new way. The railroad created suburbs because they allowed people to spread out. Great Uprising 1877 10% wage cut and 10% increase for stockholders The strike spread throughout the states – the cities farther away from the strikes sent in their militia The strikes led to a political attack later down the road (Knights of Labor). They realized they needed an organized way to strike back against the monopoly. The National Guard was created to stop strikes – it was meant to protect the industry, not the people. Knights of Labor They wanted: o Fair wages for all workers – male and female o No child labor o 8 hour days o National currency This was the first big equality push for equal pay They were pretty inclusive, but they excluded Chinese Scientific Management “Taylorism” – increase efficiency by subdividing tasks – this led to the assembly line Increased pay, increased production, decreased value of workers. In other words, workers were easily replaceable Skill no longer resided in the workers, but in the machine John Henry – steel driver. He raced the machine and won, but died in doing so. Humans have to capacity to surpass machines, but at the cost of a life.
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