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Labor History Notes

Labor History Notes - Labor History Professor Cowie What...

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Labor History Professor Cowie What makes American different? American Exceptionalism: -Nature of Class Formation -America has a party system that does not usually identify itself as a labor party – politics not based on workers vs. bosses Why? -Geography -Culture (individualism) -Religion -American Dream (mobility) -Origins of America (nature of people who immigrated) -No feudalism -Diversity (a nation of immigrants) -Protestant Work Ethic -World Power -Success? 1904- Werner Sombart: “Why No Socialism in the U.S.” “On the reefs of roast beef and apple pie, socialistic utopias of every sort are sent to their doom.” “A sober calculating businessman without ideals” Problems: No direct relationship between socialism and wealth We don’t know how our standard of living is compared to the rest of the world 1954-Louis Hartz: “No Feudalism no Socialism” In America things are more of a consensus Problems: Consensus in politics historically but not socially European scholars come to the U.S. and see more conflict No class-consciousness US Labor force is so fragmented on race that there is no labor class consensus Fragmentation furthered by political party One issue that unified all working class during gilded age: They hated the Chinese Geography Issue: Western Frontier Theory (Jackson): Whenever class becomes an issue in the cities people can just move west Gilded Age, 1877-1898 1877- Collapse of reconstruction, the North abandoned the South to the planter class, blacks were turned into a second class Large railroad strike, very violent- troops pulled from the South to squelch the railroad
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worker strikes Gilded Age through politics: -Boring politics -Partonage driven, corrupt presidents -Not a lot going on in formal politics -Parties agreed on almost everything -Business rules the country Republican: Native born, white protestant, New England and Midwest, African Americans Democrats: Immigrants, Jews and Catholics, Southern Whites Party lines set by who you hate. Tariffs : Republicans liked to tarrif, kept more complicated goods American made Kept republican voters in jobs Democrats for tarrif, including cotton farmers who wanted to sell their cotton everywhere Democrats also wanted cheaper goods Tariffs used to keep attention away from real problems. Both parties spent more time paying attention to tariff. Gilded Age through social history: -Chaotic -Crisis of the old order Eeire canal created a national market, causing businesses to expand or close down. (Market Revolution) Railroad and Corporations biggest in company. Railroads were privately owned and required to keep speed with other businesses. Knights of Labor: Populist elements, hated the idea of a pernament wage labor class with no power. -Christian social justice -Membership very inclusive -Not very clear in objective but knew what they wanted to do as a general idea -“An injury to on is an injury to all” -The broad base of the Knights of Labor lead them to be non violent and not prepared to fight against the power -Too idealistic American Federation of Labor: Founded by Sam Gompers.
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