The American Road to Capitalism: In this collection of essays written over the last three decades, he does not assume that capitalism sprang directly out of the early colonies in Jamestown and Plymouth like Athena from the head of Zeus.
Abundant resources, an expanding labor force, government policy, and skilled entrepreneurs facilitated this shift to the large-scale production of manufactured goods. The expansion of manufacturing created a need for large numbers of factory workers.
Although the average standard of living for workers increased steadily during the last decades of the nineteenth century, many workers struggled to make ends meet. Factory workers had to face long hours, poor working conditions, and job instability. During economic recessions many workers lost their jobs or faced sharp pay cuts.
New employees found the discipline and regulation of factory work to be very different from other types of work. Work was often monotonous because workers performed one task over and over.
It was also strictly regulated. Working hours were long averaging at least ten hours a day and six days a week for most workers, even longer for others.
For men and women from agricultural backgrounds these new conditions proved challenging because farm work tended to be Plantation laborers vs industrial workers essay flexible and offered a variety of work tasks. Factory work was also different for skilled artisans, who had once hand-crafted goods on their own schedule.
Factory conditions were also poor and, in some cases, deplorable. Lack of effective government regulation led to unsafe and unhealthy work sites. In the late nineteenth century more industrial accidents occurred in the United States than in any other industrial country. Rarely did an employer offer payment if a worker was hurt or killed on the job.
As industries consolidated at the turn of the century factories grew larger and more dangerous. By industrial accidents killed thirty-five thousand workers each year and maimed five hundred thousand others, and the numbers continued to rise. The general public became concerned with industrial accidents only when scores of workers were killed in a single widely reported incident, such as the many coal-mine explosions or the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire in In one year alone workers in steel and iron mills were killed in PittsburghPennsylvania.
In order to save money many employers hired women and children to work in factories because these workers would work for lower wages than men. Some women were paid as little as six dollars per week, a sum much lower than a male would have received.
Most female workers performed unskilled or semi-skilled machine work but some worked in industries that demanded heavy labor. Some women, for instance, worked on railroads, while others were employed as machinists. Children also worked long hours for low wages.
The number of children employed in factories rose steadily over the last three decades of the nineteenth century.
By roughly 1. Under pressure from the public many state legislatures passed child labor laws, which limited the hours children could work to ten hours per day, but employers often disregarded such laws.
In southern cotton mills children who operated looms throughout the night had cold water thrown in their faces to keep them awake. Long working hours for children also meant that accidents were more likely to occur; like adult workers, many children were injured or killed on the job. Worker responses to poor factory conditions and low wages were varied.
Some employees intentionally decreased their production rate or broke their machines, while others quit their jobs and sought work in other factories.
Other workers resorted to a more organized means of protest by joining labor unions although most industrial workers were not union members. Most workers, having few alternatives, simply endured the hardship of factory work.
In response to the problem of poor working conditions and the apparent indifference of industrial barons, membership in the American Federation of Labor AFLa union for skilled workers formed ingrew rapidly frommembers in to 1, in More radical and politically active trade unions often had even larger memberships, mostly because they were not as exclusionary as the AFL and because they welcomed unskilled labor, like those who worked in factories.
One of the most radical, the Industrial Workers of the World IWWfounded in and popularly known as the Wobblies, recruited primarily among the unskilled immigrants but also competed with the AFL to attract skilled laborers.
Less radical than the Wobblies and more successful at recruiting supporters were the socialists, who gained political strength because of the growing numbers of immigrants and disenchanted unskilled laborers.
The lack of real class conflict in the United States and the electoral reforms of the era undercut the socialists' efforts on a national level. Despite growing union activism the vast majority of workers remained unorganized throughout the first decade of the twentieth century.
Trying to prevent legislation to provide job security, guarantee a minimum wageor ensure the safety of the workplace, most businessmen and conservatives argued that wages were set by the marketplace and that higher wages and worker protection would lead to higher prices for consumers.
Government had long supported business using court injunctions and armed troops to put down strikes and break unions. In the s, ruling that unions operated as "combinations in restraint of trade," the federal government used the Sherman Antitrust Act against unions more often than against businesses.
During the Progressive era several states passed legislation helpful to labor, such as laws establishing a minimum wage for women, maximum work hours, and workmen's compensation, and abolishing child labor and convict leasing.
Ironically, organized labor opposed minimum-wage laws for women because it preferred to win such measures through collective bargaining or strikes rather than through legislation.Civil War and Reconstruction, The Failure of Compromise Codes—that severely limited the rights of former slaves in an effort to force them to return to work as dependent plantation laborers.
In response, the Republican majority in Congress in enacted its own plan of Reconstruction. is the author of numerous books on. On June 23, , after a quarter century of struggle, textile workers in Kannapolis, N.C.
won the single largest industrial union victory in the history of the South, a region long known as . The Social Security Act of excluded from coverage about half the workers in the American economy.
Among the excluded groups were agricultural and domestic workers—a large percentage of whom were African Americans. Merchant and industrial capital in alliance with farmers and artisans smashed plantation slavery, remade the national government, and implemented state policies to further capitalist expansion throughout the United States.
Oliver Evans, a contemporary of Jefferson's and one of America's earliest originators of mechanization in manufactures, began building his first great invention, a completely automated gristmill, behind the backdrop of sweeping political change and the advent of American independence from Great Britain.
Since slaves did not earn wages like other workers, their source of motivation was an overseer—often another slave who had been given increased responsibility—who wielded a whip to flog the unproductive or inefficient laborers.