221 The Gilded Age #2 - "Labor Unrest of the GA"...

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Unformatted text preview: "Labor Unrest of the GA" NYC Working-Class Fish Market, 1903 Questions for HIST-1302 What were the leading ideas that helped Americans understand economic change in the Gilded Age? What organizations were formed to react to the changes? Basis for organizing? Positions regarding industrial capitalism? What were the relative strengths and weaknesses of accommodating or resisting economic change? What does Industrial Capitalism mean to America? Twain: Americans want to "Get rich; dishonestly if we can, honestly if we must." Social Obligations? Society Politics Economics Modernizing Society A lot changing Old ideas no longer meaningful (1) Capitalists: Social Darwinism Herbert Spencer "Survival of the fittest" William Graham Sumner "Gospel of Wealth" Less harsh than Spencer Andrew Carnegie Laissez-faire federal policies (2) Middle-class: "Confident Individualism" But Middle-Class has "fear of falling" Social Darwinism vs Personal Failure A Fear of the New Urban Immigrants vs Recent Immigrant past Traditionally very individualistic vs Increasingly seeing their lives caught up with a larger, impersonal society (3) "Organized Labor" Church? Ethnic culture? Karl Marx? American Producerism George McNeill, The Labor Movement: The Problem of Today (1887) "[E]xtremes of wealth and poverty are threatening the existence of the government. In the light of these facts, we declare that there is an inevitable and irresistible conflict between the wage system of labor and the republican system of government -the wage laborer attempting to save the government, and the capitalist class ignorantly attempting to subvert it." Republican party forms as labor party (4) Ideology of the Working Poor? Accommodation and Resistance Accommodation The Emerging MiddleClass Skilled Labor and Craft Unions (AFL) Incumbent Political Parties Small Entrepreneurs Resistance "Christian Socialism" Unskilled Labor and Industrial Unions (Knights of Labor, American Railway Union) Farmer Accommodation: Booker T. Washington Tuskegee Institute (1881) African-Americans should "cast down your bucket where you are;" do not aspire to higher economic callings. White should not fear as "in all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress;" segregation. Resistance: The Great Upheaval - Not an "organized" protest, but spontaneous reaction by skilled labor to heavy-handed "control" by RR owners - Quickly spreads nation wide 1877 Railroad Strike Social Effects of Violence and Property Damage (resistance): Arouses fear in the middle-class of social disorder, economic collapse (just emerging from 1873 depression) "Justifies" use of state & federal troops to "put down" the violence (government takes a side) Pres. Ulysses S. Grant: in 1877 we remove troops from the South yet "there is no hesitation about exhausting the whole power of the government to suppress a strike on the slightest intimation that danger threatens." Uriah Stephens, Terence Powderly "Producerism" for the unskilled; Welcomed all except Chinese, "bankers, speculators, gamblers, lawyers, and liquor dealers" Critics: Knights are "Communist scoundrels [who] have hoisted the red flag of Agrarianism, Nihilism, Socialism, [and who] revel in robberies, bloodshed, and arson." Key demands / tools Knights of Labor (1869-1886) 8-hour day Boycotts Chicago, 1886 May 1: "May Day" Parade 80,000 participants Thousands more attend May 3: McCormick Reaper Strike ~500 Union organizers clash with August Spies scabs and private security forces 2 strikers killed August Spies issues fierce proclamation May 4: Haymarket ~250 attend, rainy, Chi. Mayor Carter Harrison attends, calls the meeting a "peaceful rally" "Counter-Offensive" & Haymarket (1886) - 7 killed, 40-60 injured - Seven arrested, four executed by Illinois - Spies on the gallows: "The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today." Craft Unionism (Skilled) Accommodationist American Federation of Labor (1886) Samuel Gompers "Business Unionism" "Bread and Butter Issues" Key Demands/Tools No sympathy strikes Collective Bargaining (no politics) Wages, safety Homestead, PA (1892) "Fort Frick" By 1893... Pan-Unionism (Knights) dead Skilled Unions (AFL) accommodate Will businesses reform themselves? Sound logic: happy workers = productivity Conflict is expensive, destructive, and nonproductive But 1893 Economic Depression hits. In first year... 500 banks and 16,000 businesses fail 150 RR & 30 steel companies declare bankruptcy 3,000,000 union members unemployed Coxey's Army (1894) Middle-Class Response to Depression Demand federal jobs program Road work Clear swamps, etc. Jacob S. Coxey Organizes a "petition with boots on" Several hundred camp in D.C. In DC, the Police outnumber "Coxeyites" Pullman Strike (1894) George Pullman's "Model Town" Debs and ARU convince ALL RR laborers to strike Revival of pan-unionism? 260,000 strike Pullman "Palace Car" U.S. Army dispatched 7/4/94: Army attack leaves 13 dead, 53 wounded Debs arrested ARU officials black-listed AFL refuses all aid Pullman Town Conclusions for Labor Unrest of the Gilded Age American labor ideology clearly evident through Producerism & Social Darwinism But Producerism is a pre-modern ideology Tied to Classical Liberal values that Industrial Capitalism was making obsolete Understand the era as one of Accommodation and Resistance Violence and strike less because people knew each other well (opposite was true) but because their goals were mutually exclusive Skill levels were critical to worker solidarity Strikes fail because skill levels falling Politics were largely ineffective Laissez-faire ...
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