During the time of the Progressive Era in 1900s-1920s, the majority of the American believed that the industrialization, immigration, and the urbanization had produced critical social disorders and believes that reforms were needed to reshaped America. They also believed that it was time to eliminate the problem caused by the corruption in the government and promote the improvement in order to address the social and economic problems. People like Theodore Roosevelt and W.E.B.Du Bois also accepted that change was needed to improve and grow.The major changes were made in social, economic and political reforms. But, was the Progressive Era a success? Progressive Era was both failure and success in economic, political and social reforms.
During the “Gilded Age”, America made numerous improvements to the functions and development of society. This was a time of renaissance in the United States, shortly after leaving a state of depression caused by the civil war and the reconstruction of our nation from World War I. We made break thorough advancements and improvements that allowed us to be where we are today. The “Gilded Age” was pivotal to the growth of our nation as a whole and led us to be as developed as we are. The three most important improvements to America through the “Gilded Age” were industrialization, transportation, and the appearance of wealth.
As industrial strength grew and technology advanced, labor in America changed. Machines replaced many of workers’ old duties and some skilled laborers who had been previously valued became easily replaced. Immigrants who were willing to work under poorer conditions flooded into the United States, big businesses grew, and political machines whose interests were not that of the people occupied the government. Laborers worked ten hour shifts, six-day workweeks, and started work as children. In The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, he describes the painful and vigorous work in the meat-packing industry, saying, “The hands of these men would be criss-crossed with cuts, until you could no longer pretend to count them...They would have no nails, they had worn them off pulling hides; their knuckles were swollen so that their fingers spread out like a fan. There were men who worked in the cooking-rooms...in these rooms the germs of tuberculosis might live for two years.” These suffering Americans appealed to the government and labor unions for help, but they did not receive it due to lack of union organization, big business ties, and laissez-faire economic ideals. During the Gilded Age, the U.S. government suppressed the average industrial worker, and labor unions, though created for laborers’ aid, accomplished little and were futile when facing big business and government.
It is a difficult task to challenge the social and economic policies of a country, especially one as patriotic as the United States during the post wartime Red scare era of the 1920 's. labor unions could account for this as they saw their membership fall from a high of 5 million in the 1920s to a mere 3.6 million by 1923(Rosenzweig 353). A combination of Supreme court decisions, Employer pressures and in many cases a lack of a strong leadership seen in previous individuals like Samuel Gompers contributed to this.Yet this trend surprisingly didn’t remain consistent as the great depression emerged around the 1930s.In fact they tripled there membership during the 1930s(Rosenzweig 429).They opened up, recruiting millions of women in their causes
The developments that occured in the United States of America during the Civil War and Reconstruction Era were arguably revolutionary. During these years of 1860 to 1877, not only did social change take place, but also constitutional change. By the end of the Civil War, many aspects were questioned, such as black status and readmission of former confederate states. At the end of it all, three amendments had been ratified and southerners were forced to accept that blacks were their equals. With many changes happening, the constitution had a full revolution by adding three amendments that challenged the beliefs of many, while social changes merely took a step up and didn’t last long.
As industry exponentially grew after the Civil War, the need for labor and materials to power newly-created manufacturing giants caused new social classes to form: the rich corporation owners and the poor laborers. Unfathomably rich Robber Barons, or plutocratic American Capitalists, dominated the economy and industry and profited from the slave-like work of millions of poor laborers during this time period. Moreover, the poor working class and the rich further divided by distribution of wealth. Therefore, exploitation of capitalism widened the gap between the rich and poor classes of America, and both newly-formed classes developed reasons for the change.
Businesses could not afford to slow downproduction during the Panic, so they continued to keep their prices high, but the people didn’thave access to the scarce money. Not only were businesses charging high prices, but also thePhiladelphia and Reading Railroad went bankrupt, causing less modes of transportation for work-ers and farmers. In total, over 15,000 companies went bankrupt during the Panic and the unem-ployment was the highest in history.Labor Unions were also created during the Gilded Age, which added to the idea of theGilded Age being truly “gilded”. The American Federation of Labor was one of the first laborunions created in the United States. The AF of L wanted “unionism” and opposed socialism. TheKnights of Labor, another labor union, was created in 1869 and enlisted in their ranks not only alllaborers but also everyone who could be truly classified as a producer.Labor unions, the two major depressions and the three “robber barons” were three of theforemost reasons the Gilded Age got its name. The “robber barons” invested in things that wouldultimately lead to a “Golden Industrial Age” but they didn’t achieve it totally legitimately, and thecreation of the labor unions sided with the workers, but at times, grew violent in their methods.They had good intentions but didn’t always carry out their plans correctly to keep things peace-ful. People were injured, killed, and bankrupted and with the Panics of 1873
The thirteenth amendment stated that all former slaves were granted freedom. The reconstruction period, “did create the essential constitutional foundation for further advances in the quest for equality”. It laid the building blocks for the future building for civil rights not just for blacks but women and other minorities. Former slaves, “ found comfort in their family and in the churches they established”. Blacks took community in each other and bonded over the mutual idea of freedom . They found each others company comforting a new way rather than the idea of fear bring them together. African Americans also, “enthusiastically participated in politics”. Black happily voted and became equal, by law, to whites because their voices were heard when it came to the
In a time when America was coming out of the bloodiest war that was ever fought, against themselves, The Civil War, and when America looked overseas for a new frontier with Imperialism. It is in this context that America started to grow westward with farm land and in industry with the million of workers, but America still felt growing pains. Two significant ways in which farmers and industrial workers responded to industrialization in the Gilded Age (1865-1900) were the formation of organizations to protect farmers, and the creation of labor unions and the use of strikes to protect the workers.
After the Civil War many problems arose. For farmers- shipping rates, freight rates, silo prices, and interest rates all skyrocketed. Many businessmen, such as middlemen, would try to take advantage of the farmers needs to mooch more money off of them. All of these issues caused the Farmer’s Alliance to form. The farmers that were participating in the alliance were being directly affected by the rise in rates and prices. Profits for the farmers were getting smaller and smaller due to the increase in prices for the goods to be sold. These farmers believed in many different things- they believed in rules and regulations for the road (which included the fact that the government should control the railroad), lower tariffs, and that money should be based off of silver standard. For the industrial workers, their working conditions were not ideal. Each worker did not get paid nearly enough to support them and their families, even though they worked ten plus hour days, six days a week. Workers were not paid for sick days or injury. Problems like these angered the workers and caused labor unions to form. Some labor unions included the American Federation of Labor (AFL), or the Knights of Labor (KoL), which were the first two industrial labor unions. The industrial unions did more physical rebellion such as strikes or walk-outs, but both the industrial unions and the farmer unions were formed due to the people’s
Throughout the gilded era corrupt politicians and corporate greedy allowed the upper class and businessmen to take advantage of the working class. This means that a majority of the population were hurt during the gilded age whereas a small percentage benefitted. As seen in document 1, living conditions were crowded, dirty, and unsafe. This was caused by the lack of regulations and laws which allowed businessmen to get away with paying their employees unethically low wages without benefits. This lack of regulations and laws also enabled business to cut corners, which lead to unsafe product, such as spoiled meat as seen in document 2, and child labor, which is seen in document 3, in order to save money.
Imagine working sixteen hours a day in an unsanitary, dangerous, place for a big business gaining two dollars.This is what laboring-class Americans had to go through during the Gilded age. Politically, the first largest American labor union was formed during the Gilded age and many other organizations formed as well as violent strikes.Socially, different ethnics joined together to share their thoughts and realize the evils of big business and of the federal government. Mentally, most we 're losing their personal life while some were financially stable and glad. During the Gilded Age laboring-class Americans attempted to better their lives in the power of big businesses and the federal government. Many different attempts were taken by the laboring-class Americans but they were more successful uniting to become one. To obtain an eight hour work day, paid sick days, health care, sanitary conditions, and higher pay.
Before the structured labor society that we live in today, America was a very different working world; one plagued with injustice and grievances from workers across the job sectors. Two organizations, the Knights of Labor and later the American Federation of Labor acted as activists for reform and demanded better standards for working, living, and life for workers. Their strategies and success in achieving their goals were as different as the organizations themselves.
The American civil war led to the reunion of the South and the North. But, its consequences led the Republicans to take the lead of reconstructing what the war had destroyed especially in the South because it contained larger numbers of newly freed slaves. Just after the civil war, America entered into what was called as the reconstruction era. Reconstruction refers to when “the federal government established the terms on which rebellious Southern states would be integrated back into the Union” (Watts 246). As a further matter, it also meant “the process of helping the 4 million freed slaves after the civil war [to] make the transition to freedom” (DeFord and Schwarz 96).
The life of an industrial worker was very hard. Workers had to work long shifts and get paid very little. Some worked ten to twelve hours a day, six days a week, and made less than one dollar per hour. Along with long hours and little pay, there was no regulation for breaks, safety, or age. Due to this, one in eleven workers died on the job. Eventually it got to the point where these workers were working so much, but barely made enough to support their family. The Knights of Labor was the first national labor group formed in 1869. This group wanted to gain an eight-hour workday, expel asian workers and immigrants from the far east, and stop child labor. Around the same time a new national organization named the American Federation of Labor (AFL) formed when the Knights of Labor union declined. The new organization was led by Samuel Gompers, a cigar maker that helped to form the union. The AFL advocated for most of the same things as the Knights of Labor. The American Federation of Labor used strikes and boycotts against owners to try and get what they wanted. Two major strikes that occurred were the Pullman Strike and the Homestead Strike. Both strikes were very dangerous and had millions of dollars of damage. Some of the strikes and boycotts did work and wages were raised, however some backfired and many workers ended up losing their