American History: The Gilded Age Essay

1098 words - 5 pages

The Gilded Age was the last three decades of the nineteenth century, when America’s industrial economy exploded generating opportunities for individuals but also left many workers struggling for survival. With the many immigrants, skilled and unskilled, coming to America the labor system is becoming flooded with new employees. During this period, the immigrants, including the Italians, were unskilled and the skilled workers were usually American-born. There was also a divide in the workers and the robber barons. Robber barons were American capitalist who acquired great fortunes in the last nineteenth century, usually ruthlessly. There was much turmoil throughout the business and labor ...view middle of the document...

1). This organization had a greater itinerary than better condition; they had a vision for an improved future of America. They advocated for “measures providing health and safety for those engaged in mining, manufacturing, and building industries” (Reading 9, p.1). These benefits were greatly needed as seen in the working conditions experienced by the Italian immigrants of this time. These groups were organized locally which also led to their downfall because of too much local power rather than a form of national leadership. The American Federation of Labor, founded in 1185, was unique in that it restricted its membership to only skilled workers and was also organized by trade instead of locality. For this reason it “became known as the “aristocracy” of labor” (Additional Links: The War between Capital and Labor). The Italian immigrants, for example, were not commonly found in the American Federation of Labor because they were unskilled and were not unionizing. President of the American Federation of Labor, Samuel Gompers believed in the power of the strike and most importantly the belief of the eight-hour workday. In Chicago, over one thousand people gathered at the West Randolph Street Haymarket, where people bought hay for their horses. Originally it was a peaceful gathering until someone threw a bomb into the crowd. The police responded by shooting into the crowd. An unknown number of demonstrators were killed or wounded. “Sixty police officers were injured and eight eventually died. Politicians and the press blamed radicals for the violence, although there was no evidence linking specific people to the bomb” (Lecture 7:Additional links, Chicago Workers during the Long Gilded Age). A contemporary illustration of the catastrophe can be seen in Slideshow 7:8. In 1890, President of the AFL, Gompers, made a speech in Kentucky in which he explains that the eight-hour workday is good for not only the employees but also the employers. Gompers makes many arguments including, “In all industries where the hours of labor are long, there you will find the least development of the power of invention” (Reading 10, p.2). He is implying that not only is this a great idea for the employees to have more time for imagination and...

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