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HIST-2020-001 Notes: Week 3

by: Andrew Hull

HIST-2020-001 Notes: Week 3 HIST-2020-002

Andrew Hull
GPA 3.59

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About this Document

More Gilded Age: the rise of labor unions and radicalism.
U.S. History Since 1877
Dr. Daniel Newcomer
Class Notes
The Gilded Age, U.S. History, knights of labor, Labor
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Andrew Hull on Thursday September 15, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HIST-2020-002 at East Tennessee State University taught by Dr. Daniel Newcomer in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 10 views. For similar materials see U.S. History Since 1877 in History at East Tennessee State University.

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Date Created: 09/15/16
RISE OF WAGE LABOR ● 1870: census verified that U.S. Americans were no longer chiefly self-employed ● result of industrialization ● increasingly difficult to control working conditions ○ self-employment = freedom ○ feeling that Americans couldn’t control their working lives CHALLENGES OF RAPID GROWTH ● U.S. Americans sought stability ● politicians offered few solutions ● citizens/workers organized to address issues in business/workplace WORKER’S ORGANIZATIONS ● they’d been around, but they really took off at this point ● unions ○ misrepresented by opponents/supporters ○ opponents saw them as obstacles to efficient business management/rabble- rousers ○ supporters saw them as infallible/righteous ● strived toward more representative democracy WORKING CLASS LIFE ● intense competition for jobs ○ low wages ○ no minimum wage ○ high cost of living ○ more workers than there were jobs ● dangerous working conditions ○ a lot of factories were simply old/outdated ○ no safety standards ● poor housing ● poor health ● day laborers ○ single-day contract ○ unskilled laborers ○ whoever would work hardest for least money would get hired AMERICA’S WORKFORCE ● men/women/children ● 1.5 million child laborers in 1900 ● 12-hour day/6-day week ● wages were $0.25-$1.25 per day NO LEGAL PROTECTION ● 1880-1900: 40,000 people killed on job ● no safety standards ● no compensation ● photography played important role ○ documented workers’ perils ○ people saw these images and said, “what can we do about this?” EXPLAINING RICH AND POOR ● what caused income gap? ○ what was responsible? ○ was industry to blame? ● two popular theories arose ● Gospel of Wealth ○ popular Christianity ○ God blessed the virtuous with prosperity ○ cursed the immoral with poverty ○ explained away poverty ● used conditions caused by poverty to explain poverty in the first place ○ alcohol ○ gambling ○ prostitution ● Social Darwinism ○ while Gospel of Wealth bastardized Christianity to explain poverty, Social Darwinism bastardized science to the same end ○ based on Darwin’s theory of evolution ○ those who could adapt would prosper--the fit would survive ● popularized by Herbert Spencer ○ applied evolution to society ○ different races in competition ○ civilized = evolved ○ uncivilized = unevolved ○ reinforced racial prejudice through pseudoscience NATURE OR NURTURE ● both theories claimed that poverty was natural ● implied that not much could be/had to be done ● workers/activists believed laws had to be changed ○ traced problems to legislature OBSTACLES TO ORGANIZING ● business owners opposed unions ○ uncertain legal status ● workers divided among themselves ○ Americans vs. immigrants ○ skilled vs. unskilled ○ racial/religious conflicts MUTUAL AID SOCIETIES ● common by 1870s ○ relied on secrecy ○ collected dues from members to help each other out ● pooled resources in case of emergency ● exactly what businesses were doing, but on smaller scale ● opposed by business owners KNIGHTS OF LABOR ● first national labor organization ● several million members by 1880s ● social reform/prohibition ● loosely organized ● workers were skeptical that this would do any good ● very idealistic/naive ○ would accept managers into group and get fired after managers found out who members were ● didn’t allow strikes ○ 1880-1920: violence GREAT RAILROAD STRIKE ● spontaneous conflict in 1877 ● response to Panic of 1873 ○ railroad companies had been lowering wages/raising housing prices ○ workers begun to suspect that companies hadn’t lost as much money as they claimed ● federal troops vs. armed workers ○ workers began destroying company property/ripping up tracks/etc. ● over 100 worker killed ● press blamed ○ radicals/foreigners/anarchists ○ issues dismissed as un-American ● dispute was, in fact, among U.S. Americans ● did workers have right to strike? HAYMARKET AFFAIR ● 1886: labor rally in Chicago ○ protesting police killings of labor demonstrators ● Haymarket Square ● ended in violence ○ someone threw a bomb into the crowd ○ 10 dead--7 of which were police ○ 8 anarchists convicted ● despite two governors commuting the convicts’ sentences, four of the suspects were hanged ● Knights of Labor declined RADICAL ALTERNATIVES ● people became suspicious that government favored the rich ○ every time laborers went out to demonstrate, they were met with violence ● direct action was needed ● Anarchism: anti-authority ● Socialism: eliminate social classes ● these groups wanted to topple industrial/Capitalist society that had created inequality ○ some even preached violent overthrow of government ● workers wanted practical solution to real problems ○ most didn’t want to go so far as to join radical groups, even if they saw truth in such ideologies AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR ● took off after Haymarket ● led by Samuel Gompers ○ Scottish immigrant ● “bread and butter” issues ○ higher wages ○ work within system without drastically changing its structure ○ unlike radicalism, which sought to restructure system itself ● Gompers’s model was called “Trade Unionism” (as opposed to radicalsim) ● focused on organizing skilled workers ○ carpenters ○ cigar makers ○ machinists ● skilled workers were harder to replace if they went on strike ○ bosses couldn’t just fire them like they could the “dime a dozen” day laborers ○ (that’s actually where the phrase came from) ○ allowed AFL members to make demands ● Nativism ○ U.S.-born workers ● 1 million members by 1900 48-HOUR WEEK ● took the old 72-hour week and reduce it to 48 hours ○ 8-hour day ● companies wanted to stay open longer ○ but if workers worked fewer hours, companies would have to hire more people ○ more jobs, less competition ○ higher wages ● created part-time work ● also sought to remove women and children from workplace ○ in the hopes of raising men’s wages ○ no one argued against ending child labor ○ women--especially single women--fought their way into the AFL ● if unskilled workers had grievances, the AFL would go on strike for them CONTROLLING THE AFL ● businesses brought in scabs ○ temporary workers who replaced workers on strike ○ not very effective, since skilled workers were hard to replace ○ AFL resorted to violence against scabs for siding with the enemy ● “yellow-dog” contracts ○ workers promised companies that they’d never join unions ● company towns ○ companies built entire communities around factories/mines ○ completely dependant upon company for livelihood ○ laborers organized anyway ● strikes common by 1890s SHERMAN ANTI-TRUST ACT ● 1890: Congress passed law to break up trusts ● argument was that trusts were restraining trade ○ against the spirit of capitalism ○ disrupting capitalism ● “restraint of trade” language also referred to labor strikes ○ authorities could be called in to force striking workers back on job ● incited violence between workers and authorities ● not until 1904 was it used to break up a trust LABOR VIOLENCE ● hundreds of thousands of workers on strike ● 1892: Homestead Strike ○ at Carnegie Steel plant in Pennsylvania ○ Carnegie actually had good reputation in regards to worker treatment ○ laborers went on strike over housing issues ○ ended in 10 deaths ○ shocking turn of events, given Carnegie’s good reputation ● 1896: Pullman Strike ○ workers went on strike over high rents ○ ended in 34 deaths ● more and more people seeing government as enemy WESTERN FEDERATION OF MINERS ● radical organization ● workers’ alienation ● 1894: advocated violent anarchism ● 1905: morphed into IWW ○ International Workers of the World ○ not loyal to any one country ● minority among labor activists MCKINLEY ASSASSINATION ● 1901: President William McKinley assassinated by Leon Czolgosz ○ avowed Anarchist ● outraged middle class citizens ● actually blamed government ○ this was what they got for implementing Sherman Act so unfairly ○ government shouldn’t take sides ● labor reform was needed


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