THE RESPONSE OR REACTION TO INDUSTRIALISM
WHO IS RESPONDING?
WHY DO THEY RESPOND?
The inherent vice of capitalism is
the unequal sharing of blessings;
the inherent virtue of socialism
is the equal sharing of miseries.
Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
Stranges, Chapter 4
Henretta, Chapters 17 and 18
The emergence of workers’ unions, the arrival of old and new immigrants, the rise of cities, the
appearance of reformers, and the political and public reaction to big industry discussed in
Chapter 3 are examples of different responses or reactions to industrialism.
They are also examples of the forces that have shaped the United States, especially the forces of
urbanization, immigration, and industrialization.
These three forces have made the United States
the nation it is today.
THE STATE OF THE AMERICAN WORKER
What were workers’ wages, their living conditions, and their state of well-being in the period
The average work week at the turn of the century was 60 hours.
An unskilled worker earned 10
cents an hour, a skilled worker earned 20 cents an hour. An average annual wage was $400-
A family saved about $30 annually, spent about one-half of its income on food, about one-
fourth on rent, and the rest on clothing, fuel, and light. Milk cost 4 cents a quart, meat 12 cents a
pound, bread 2 cents a pound, herring 1-2 cents a pound. A kitchen table cost $1.00, chairs 35
About 25 people occupied an area of 2,000 square feet.
Workers’ earnings increased 37 per cent from 1880 to 1914, but the cost of living increased by
The richest tenth of the population received 33.9 percent of the nation’s income, the
poorest tenth received 3.4 percent.
For comparison of these costs with today’s costs, $1.00 in
1900 has the same purchase power as $20.97 in 2001, $1.00 in 1870
$13.49 in 2001, and $1.00
$1.55 in 1870 ($1.00 in 1870
65¢ in 1900).
The organization of labor:
unionism or big labor organized to challenge big industry.
The Knights of Labor established itself as a workers’ union in 1869
The Knights permitted every kind of worker to join their union and organized their
industry, such as coal or steel, to include skilled and unskilled workers. Membership peaked at
700,000 in 1886.