How Successful Was Organized Labor Essay

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Prompt: How successful was organized labor in improving the position of workers in the period from 1875 to 1900? Analyze the factors that have contributed to the level of success achieved.

The period of 1875-1900, better known as the Gilded Age, was a time of economic definition. At this time America was settling in its ways as a capitalist society known for its free market and trade opportunities. With the emergence of this free market economy came the rise of big businesses. These businesses essentially controlled the politics of these times as the two: politics and economics often go hand in hand. While controlling the economy businesses began controlling the pool of opportunity. Many immigrants and native born Americans flooded the cities …show more content…

So concerned with increasing their own profits and personal gains the owners kept the workers’ wages very low regardless of the state of the economy at that time. From 1875- 1891, the hours and wages of the workers stayed about the same (Historical Statistics of the United States). There was no mobility for wage laborers because their work failed to be valued as this was not a skill nor a trade, it was just a paid duty. Yet, in the midst of this capitalist oppression the laborers still needed this very system. Within capitalism lies the “golden egg” or the room for opportunity (Thomas Nast cartoon in Harper’s Weekly, 1878). So to kill capitalism would essentially be killing all of the hope left within the laborers for a better tomorrow. The system may stifle the chances of economic mobility, but the death of capitalism would make this a definite reality eliminating all chances for change. However, at this time there were two poor classes: the laborers and the farmers. For the farmers, a switch to communism seemed to be the perfect solution to ending their poverty as this would put them on the same playing field as big businesses and industries. However, as for the laborers communism would only establish their poverty stricken position as permanent. Unlike the theory of capitalism, communism does not theoretically provide opportunity for socioeconomic mobility, it only fosters

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