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Immigrants Come To America During The Gilded Age

1469 words - 6 pages

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In the early 1900’s there was a dramatic increase in the number of immigrants coming to the eastern shores of America. Many were pulled to America because of its economic opportunity, freedom, need for labor and its beautiful country. Immigrants were excited to come to America and were pushed from their home countries because of food shortages, overpopulation, war and political instability. This was going on in an important era in American history called the “gilded age”. It was a time of economic growth, and industrialization but also had high percentages of poverty mainly in urban environments. The majority of the immigrants intended to advance out west but actually settled in the eastern cities. In the book The Jungle, Jargis and his family moved to the Americas and hoped to live the “American Dream” but it was the exact opposite when they arrived. Jurgis, his wife Ona, and the rest of the Lithuanian family struggled with working conditions, living conditions, health problems, and maintaining a stable workplace. They were all dealt with disgusting conditions in the boarding houses and a brutal working environment in Packingtown. In 1905, when the book was written, there were very little government regulations, especially in the meat packing industry, which led to unsafe working conditions and sanitation issues.
The lack of government intervention was causing major issues and uprisings throughout the 1900’s. Places like Packingtown took advantage of the limited regulations enforced by the government and tried to maximize their profits. This led to many problems for the workers in the factory and the meat consumers. First of all, there were very long working hours. A typical day at that time consisted of a

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twelve to fourteen hour workday with very low wages. Jargis and his family started off making two dollars a day. Many jobs had very dirty conditions or were too dangerous to perform. Job openings were usually caused by employees giving up or even some cases of death. Child labor also played a major role in the economy, everyone had to work to support their family. Factories did not have to meet any safety guidelines, causing the United States to have the worst working conditions out of any other country. Also the factories were definitely not the cleanest places to work. Since there was no one inspecting the meat at the time, low skilled laborers were forced to package meat that was spoiled or contaminated. This did not go well with human consumption.
“The meat would be shoveled into carts, and the man who did the shoveling would not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one—there were things that went into the sausage in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit. There was no place for the men to wash their hands before they ate their dinner, and so they made a practice of washing them in the water that was to be ladled into the sausage. There were the butt-ends of smoked meat, and the scraps of corned beef, and all the...

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