Discontent and Refo12

Discontent and Refo12 - state and local authorities few of...

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Discontent and Reform Late-19th century American farmers experienced recurring periods of hardship At the same time, technological improvements, which added so much to the nation's  productivity, continually reduced the demand for skilled labor. Yet the unskilled labor  pool was constantly growing, as unprecedented numbers of immigrants – 18 million  between 1880 and 1910 – entered the country, eager for work. Before 1874, when Massachusetts passed the nation's first legislation limiting the  number of hours women and child factory workers could perform to 10 hours a day,  virtually no labor legislation existed in the country.  It was not until the 1930s that the  federal government would become actively involved. Until then, the field was left to the 
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Unformatted text preview: state and local authorities, few of whom were as responsive to the workers as they were to wealthy industrialists. The laissez-faire capitalism that dominated the second half of the 19th century and fostered huge concentrations of wealth and power was backed by a judiciary that time and again ruled against those who challenged the system. In this, they were merely following the prevailing philosophy of the times. Drawing on a simplified understanding of Darwinian science, many social thinkers believed that both the growth of large business at the expense of small enterprise and the wealth of a few alongside the poverty of many was “survival of the fittest,” and an unavoidable by-product of progress....
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