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Five Major Events Essay

881 words - 4 pages

The history of the United States of America is the foundation of the world we live in today. As George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Knowing the history of our country and how it helped shape us is vital for progress. The great country we live in was not formed overnight; it took many years of trial and error to get it right and we are still learning. There are many major events that have shaped our country, a few being the first transcontinental railroad, the Railroad Strike of 1877, the Niagara Movement, the annexation of Hawaii, and the creation of the Federal Reserve System.
The first transcontinental railroad led the way for the advancement in modes of transportation. Before this trains would only connect neighboring cities, mainly in the East. Also, travelling by train was dangerous as there was no system of standard signals. Construction on the railroad began in 1862 and did not conclude until 1869. By this time, there were rails from the East Coast to the Mississippi River and new rails had to be built between Nebraska and California. Since this project was too big for most private investors, government involvement was vital. Because of this, the federal government gave loans and land grants to two private companies: the Central Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad. A majority of the workers in the Union were Irish immigrants while most of the Central workers were Chinese immigrants. Since the Chinese were considered the inferior, race they received less pay. They eventually went on strike and gained a small raise. Building the railroad required not only workers but blacksmiths, carpenters, engineers, masons, surveyors, and cooks. Eventually, after years of labor, the two railroads met in what is now Promontory Summit, Utah on May 10, 1869. The president of Central Pacific, Leland Stanford, drove the final, golden spike in. This event was significant because it allowed passengers and goods to be carried from coast to coast. Trains today are much more advanced and accessible. One can travel to almost anywhere by train. This invention was only the beginning of a new era of transportation.
Another event that was the start of a new era was the Railroad Strike of 1877. This strike was the first nationwide strike in the United States. On July 14, 1877 the strike began when Baltimore and Ohio made a ten percent wage cut during a depression, the second wage cut in eight months. Other railroads also had similar wage cuts. In Baltimore, workers reacted with violence. Riots spread rapidly throughout other cities such as...

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