Thomas Nast's Cartoon Analysis

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In the Gilded Age, from 1870s to 1900s, the United States had undergone an unprecedented industrial revolution. Inventions made the country's economy prosper, with railroads and steam-powered ships to transport not only goods but labors. The two distinct classes emerged in the nation: capitals and labors. The conservative ideologies of capitalism gained their significance within the nation, endorsed by renowned businessmen such as William Graham Sumner and Andrew Carnegie. The pro-business view of the intrinsic relationship between labor and capital is demonstrated in Thomas Nast's cartoon published in 1874. In the cartoon, Nast portrayed labor and capital as "the American twins" bonded to each other by "the real union." He showed the belief …show more content…

While employers and management worked in set hours, workers had to work up to 12 hours a day, with very few, if any, breaks, such as in the Pittsburgh Bessemer Steel Company in 1881. These long work hours harmed workers' health and relationship within their family. Still, the money earned was hardly sufficient to support a household. This coerced women and children into the industrial system; by 1900, around 1.7 million children labored in the system. Industrial lives were far from safe. From 1880 to 1900, there were several industrial accidents, killing 35,000 workers per year. More than 536,000 workers were injured yearly, without any compensation or payment from their employers. Despite the attempts to legislate statutes to "protect the physical well-being" of the workers, these casualties and injuries reflected the alarming, life-threatening circumstance workers were forced to face, while the capitals were not. This contrasts with Nast's portrayal of labor and capital as standing side by side of one another. The businessmen did not stay by their workers' side; rather, the businessmen merely discarded any industrial mishap as the workers' fault. Little did capital become concerned about labor's life and

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