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The Industrial Revolution in the U.S. took 100 years. We are going to focus on the period to 1877. In History 1302, the second part is covered. First, what is an Industrial Revolution? Basically, it is the movement from an power to machine power. Before the Industrial Revolution, goods were made by hand. After the Industrial Revolution, most goods were made by machines. For example, look at your shoe. Before the Industrial Revolution it would have been made by hand just for you. After the Industrial Revolution, it would be made by machines and cheap labor. Where was your shoe made? Unless, you buy more expensive shoes than I do, today it is made in another country where cheap labor is more available such as China. Hey, I admit I splurge on my Birkenstocks that are made in Germany. The point is the Industrial Revolution changed the way things are made and changed the way people lived. Whether that was good or bad is a question for you
One of the major factors in the U.S. Industrial Revolution was inventiveness. Before the 19th century (1800s), the U.S. averaged 300 patents each year. By 1860, the average was 2,800 patents each year. Some of the most important inventions included two by Eli Whitney. In 1793, he patented the cotton gin that will transform the production of cotton and make it cheaper to produce since it removed the seeds from the cotton. The cotton gin also led to an increase in the demand for slaves to pick and produce the cotton. Whitney also came up with another idea that made the Industrial Revolution possible. He introduced the idea of interchangeable parts. For example, if you break the steering rod on your car like I did, you don't have to buy a new car. You just get an interchangeable part. This made the assembly line possible. Every item on the assembly line became interchangeable. Whitney used the rifle as his example.
Other important inventions included Elias Howe's sewing machine (1846) that transformed the textile industry.. John Deer's steel plow (1837) changed agriculture dramatically. Cyrus McCormick's mechanical mower-reeper (1831) added to the reinventing of agriculture and meant fewer farmers were needed to produce the same amount of products. Samuel Colt's revolver or repeating pistol (1836) changed the war against American Indians and the first model was called "The Texan." Samuel Morse's telegraph made communication more effective with his machine that transmitted messages through a single wire. He also co-invented the code. (See Final Exam Exericse.)
At this time, the appearance of African-American inventors led to major developments. Hundreds of African-Americans received patents in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The first was Henry Blair who invented the corn planter (1834) and cotton planter (1836). Why would African-Americans become such prolific inventors?
Meanwhile, other countries had inventors that added to the Industrial Revolution such as the vulcanization of rubber, either for surgery, improved printing presses, and the Bessemer process to produce steel. Also, at the same time, the U.S. built its first oil well in Pennsylvania (1859).
Another development during the Industrial Revolution was improved transportation including canal building with the Erie Canal opening first in 1825. Railroads had a larger impact with the opening of the first line, the B & O in 1828. In 1830, Peter Cooper improved the engines with the introduction of steam engine locomotives. By 1860, the U.S. had 300,000 miles of railroad tracks with 3/4 in the North. That became significant later. Faster ships, the Pony Express mail deliver, and the telegraph all improved communication. The steamboat (1787) made rivers two-way so had a major impact on transportation along rivers. Toll roads were also built including the first national highway begun in 1811 from Maryland to Missouri.
There were other factors that stimulated the Industrial Revolution including government policies. This included protective tariffs to keep the price of U.S. goods competitive and unrestricted immigration to bring in cheap labor. With immigrants, there were other sources of cheap labor in the U.S. that included free African-Americans, displaced farmers, single women, and children.
The Industrial Revolution affected all Americans, but change is difficult. One of the biggest problems was coping with urban development and problems. Between 1800 and 1860 there was a 14% shift from rural to urban residents. By 1860, New York city had a population of over a million and was the third largest city in the world. While Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston, and Chicago grew rapidly, Dallas had yet to develop with less than 1,000 residents in 1855 after it's founding by John Neely Bryan.
The rapid shift to cities led to the first appearance of slums. No sanitary services existed including garbage pick-up and running water (i.e. no toilets). Some cities allowed hogs to run free in the streets to eat the garbage people threw out of windows. This is also how an interesting custom developed. It became polite for couples to walk down the street with the gentleman nearest the street. This way he would be the likely victim of a garbage toss rather than his companion. In addition, the mud in the streets would most likely splash on him. Streets were unpaved and full of horse manure.
Crime also increased. Prostitution, although legal then, was a growth industry. Gangs formed and there was no professional law enforcement. As one English observer wrote, "Every American is his own policeman." The police of this era had to training and were mostly political appointees. They were divided into districts within the city and could not pursue criminals outside their own district. They were attacked if they tried to make an arrest anyway.
Fires were terrible. There were no official fire departments. Volunteers were usually ethnic gangs who fought over who would fight a fire while the building burned. By the 1850s, there was a movement to professionalize fire and police departments. Technology will assist the firefighters. Being a policeman, though, had low status and was not considered respectable work so most departments utilized ethnic groups such as the Irish in New York City.
Conditions on the job were no better. Before industrialization, most people lived on farms, set their own hours, and the family was together. Others worked as craftsmen who had skill and pride in the products they produced. But, in factories, people had to live by the clock. Do you live by the clock today
There was no minimum wage or maximum hours in factories. Most worked 10-13 hours a day, six days a week. The average pay for a white male in 1830 was $4 per week. Everyone else made less. Women average $1.90 per week. It took about $10 a week to support an average family. The gap between the rich and poor grew. by the 1820s, 4% owned half the non-corporate wealth. In addition, there were no regulations on conditions, no unemployment insurance, and no workman's compensation.
Jobs were monotonous, impersonal, and alienation grew between the workers and owners of the businesses and the products. There were no protections for labor union and most efforts failed. The first demand was a 10 hour work day. But, periodic depressions tended to wipe out any gains unions made. During the Panic of 1837, for example, 30% unemployment was reported in cities.
The Industrial Revolution also changed family life. The husband/father was not at home so women/mothers became responsible for the children. Of course, many children worked, too. In 1820, 1/2 of factory workers were under 10 years of age. Most married women did not work outside the home although some had "piece work" they could do at home. At the same time, single women were pulled into factories and domestic service. By the early 1800s, 20% of women were employed and that percentage will be stable for about 100 years. 90% of labor in the shoe and textile industries were women.
Coping with change was difficult and Americans looked aroud for someone to blame for their difficulties. To many Americans, it was immigration that brought the problems. As a result "nativism" grew or anti-immigrant feelings. Irish immigrants were some of the most hated. They came to the U.S. poor, uneducated without skills, Catholic, and clannish. Between 1815 and 1860, two million Irish immigrants arrived in the U.S. They were stereotyped as drunken, belligerent, troublemakers. Indeed, the Irish were willing to fight for their place in American society, but they were blamed for urban problems. Employers and tenement owners put up signs "No Irish Need Apply." Some even brought free African-Americans to prevent Irish from taking jobs and housing.
This put the Irish and African-Americans in a confrontational position as the competed for the same jobs and housing. Whoever would take the least pay got jobs. Riots were frequent. Both were seen as expendable. Thousands died in railroad and canal work. At least the immigrants brought new music and dance to the U.S.
A popular dance during the early 1800s was the Polka so let's Polka!
For many Americans, dancing did not solve the problems. Some Americans sought solutions to the problems. I refer to them as the "Seekers" as they sought a way to escape the stress of the Industrial Revolution. Do you have stress? How do you deal with it? Here are some of the ways they did it in the antebellum 19th century.
Not surprising, many seekers looked for spiritual solutions. Interest in religion grew as ministers worried about dangerous sinfulness, intellectualism, and even jokes about God. Another revivalist movement emerged called the Second Great Awakening similar to the first Great Awakening. Large revival meetings, emotional sermons, thousands of conversion, fainting, vision, and healings were part of the movement. At one meeting in Cane Ridge, Kentucky, 20,000 people showed up for a meeting.
There was a major difference in the Second Great Awakening in comparison to the first. In the Great Awakening Bod was vengeful. In the Second Great Awakening, God was loving and forgiving. The emphasis was the pursuit of moral perfection. Churches were built making them more available to people. New denominations emerged such as the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). But, it was the Methodists and Baptists that grew the most. For example, the Methodists grew from 15,000 in the late 1700s to 850,000 in 1840. Most of the new members were women so some referred to it as the "Woman's Awakening."
Eventually revivalism decline in the 1840s. One of the reasons was disagreement over the issue of slaver. Both the Baptists and Methodists split into Northern and Southern branches as the southerners rejected the anti-slavery message of the North.
But there were other ways to seek relief from the stress of the Industrial Revolution. Why not create a utopian community? Is that possible?
Many of the utopian experiments were founded by Europeans who saw the U.S. as the place most likely to succeed with all the space. They came in many shapes. Many were secular (non-religious) but most early efforts were religious in nature. They date back to the Puritans and Quakers. In the 1700s, Mennonites and Amish establish communities to live as Christ-like as possible and rejected the Industrial Revolution. That solved that problem.
One of the most interesting utopian groups was the Shakers (or United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Coming). Important to their development was Ann Lee. She joined the Shakers as a teenage in England. She had a serious, deep sense of human evil especially sexuality. She believed all sex was evil. But her parents insisted she marry and she had four pregnancies that ended with deaths of all her babies. She believed that was God's punishment for having sexual relations.
Ann Lee was arrested in 1770 during a crackdown on religious nonconformity in England. While in prison, she had a vision. Christ appeared to her and said celibacy was the only way anyone could follow Christ. After her release and revealing her vision, she was hailed as the "Mother in Christ." She was the Messiah, the Second Coming. She became known as Mother Ann or Ann the Word. The Millennium had begun. There is a lot of debate as to what that means and I really do not understand anything in "Revelations." So here is one source that tried to give all sides but maybe you can explain it.
In 1774, Ann Lee and her followers came to the U.S. to escape persecution. Once in the U.S. they made many converts but Ann Lee died in 1784 at the age of 48. But, the movement continued to grow. It reached its peak in 1830 with 5,000 members. Communities were known for their common property like most utopian experiments, celibacy based on the Biblical passage in "Matthew" (xxii,30). They also opposed all violent and believed in hard work. They made beautiful furniture still in demand today. They also invented the circular saw. They believed in charity to all including American Indians and "winter Shakers" who just stayed for the winter and then moved on. The opposed all slavery but total segregation of the sexes. They also were known for their songs and dancing that was quite energetic. Some referred to them as the "Shaking Quakers." There is still a Shaker community today. (See link below.)
Texas had its share of utopian experiments beginning with Jean Lafitte's pirates who founded Demopolis, a French communist society near Liberty, Texas (1818). Germans found a community at Bettin near New Braunsfels and Boerne (1849) near San Antonio. Dallas also had a utopian community called La Reunion. It was a French community founded in the 1850s that emphasized equality, education, and health care. They tried to combine capitalism and socialism. Women could vote and wear pants but there was no marriage. It was located near Chalk Hill near today's Hampton, Westmoreland, and Davis Streets. It only lasted two years due to drought, malaria and internal conflicts. It was dissolved in 1857 although most members stayed in the Dallas area. There is still a La Reunion Cemetery.
One of the most radical and successful secular utopias was Oneida in New York. Founded in 1848, they emphasized science, technology and "free love." They abolished marriage, emphasized planned pregnancies, and eugenics (the belief that only the fittest should reproduce). They worked in steel and silver crafts. They also had a college that allowed African-American students. It survived 33 years but was forced to abandon the "free love" philosophy since adultery was against the law in New York.
But, for many Americans, the idea of utopia did not appeal to them and there were other ways to relieve stress. Mass entertainment had made its appearance mainly due to the work of P.T. Barnum. He was also important in the anti-slavery movement and woman's rights movement. He also was mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut. After the Civil War he will create the "Greatest Show on Earth," the circus. During the antebellum period, though, he brought the the entertainment to the people in a less elaborate way.
P.T. Barnum was determined to succeed due to his poverty as a child. He had a canny understanding of human nature. He began with a store and lottery sales. A dedicated Jacksonian Democrat, he began a newspaper in 1831. He criticized the wealthy and religious extremists. He even went to jail for criticizing dignitaries. He also said "a sucker is born every minute."
He got his show business start with a traveling show that featured Joice Heth, a slave he bought for $1,000 in 1834. She claimed to be 161 years old and was George Washington nurse. When she died, an autopsy estimated her age as 80. Now, what do you think about that? Was she being exploited by Barnum or was she given an opportunity. Which would you do: Pick cotton or pretend you were 161 years old?
Barnum added jugglers, minstrels, and Chang and Eng. At the time they were called "Siamese Twins" despite the fact they were Chinese. Today we use the term "conjoined twins." They were a big hit and grew wealthy with their tours in the U.S. They also married and had children (see photo). In 1843, he arranged an apprenticeship deal with the parents of Charles Stratton who became known as Tom Thumb, a little person. He was a big hit and even toured Europe and also grew wealthy. In 1849, Barnum brought singer Jenny Lind, "The Swedish Nightingale," to the U.S. and she made Barnum wealthy.
Other forms of music and entertainment were popular too in the antebellum period including Minstrel Shows. These were usually traveling shows that including singers, dancers, and comedy. Most of the performers were whites who wore "blackface" make-up made out of burned cork usually. Thomas "Daddy" Rice was considered the "Father of American Minstrels" and was a well-know performer. Sometime around 1828-31 he developed a song and dance routine. He impersonated and old, disabled slaved named "Jim Crow." This is where the term Jim Crow originated that now refers to racial segregation. Gradually, African-Americans moved into the Minstrel Shows but they wore blackface, too. After the Civil War, the minstrel show performers were predominantly African-Americans. Sorry about the offensive picture, but that's history. The song, "Carve That Possum" is fun, though!
"Carve the Possum" by Uncle Dave Macon, an African-American Minstrel performer.
History of Minstrel Shows
Another important person in music during this period was Stephen Foster. He was the most famous songwriter in the U.S. He was the first recognized songwriter in our history. Most of his music was for Minstrel Shows so he tried to copy African-American styles to popularize their music for white audiences. I call him the Elvis Presley of the 19th century. His first hit was "Oh, Susanna". He also wrote "Camptown Races", "Old Folks at Home", "Jeanie with Light Brown Hair", "Beautiful Dreamer" and many others. Despite his popularity, Foster did not benefit financially and died in a charity war in 1864.
Another popular form of entertainment was team sports especially baseball. It had been around since the colonial era in a primitive form. It combined an English game called "Rounders" and American Indian ball games. It became known as "Townball" and played during town meetings. Before 1850, there were no standardized rules. Every town had its own rules. One thing was common, though, "Townball" was rough. To get a player out, he had to be smashed by the ball. There were no fouls or strikes. The batter carried the bat when running and it was considered impolite to pitch badly like curve balls. In 1833, the Philadelphia club introduced the diamond, home base, and an out by throwing to a base.
Before the 1850s, there was no real effort to write down the rules. Then, Alexander Joy Cartwright tried to do that. He added the rule of dropping the bat before running and to win a team needed 21 runs. He also introduced the foul ball and out on a fly ball. He still did not allow deceptive pitching, stealing bases, sliding (considered cowardly), gloves, but there were fines for profanity (25 cents).
By 1850, the first paid players appeared including James Creighton, a pitcher who developed the fast ball. Unfortunately, he died during a game of a ruptured bladder in 1863. It was a rough game. Gradually, other rules developed like the bunt, deceptive pitching, and the nine inning rule. By the 1860s, there were hundreds of teams. Gambling was widespread even among umpire who wore formal dress and sat on stools to the right of the home plate.
There was a gentile and intellectual side to the Seekers, too. The early 19th century has been named "The Creative Period." Before then, there had been little development in the arts and education emphasized religion. After the Enlightenment, intellectual pursuits grew. More secular colleges opened while more magazines, newspapers, and libraries appeared.
One of the most famous intellectuals of the period was John J. Audubon who combined art and science. He was a naturalist, ornithologist (studied birds), and artist know for his 1838 publication The Birds of America. His paintings of birds are still used by birdwatchers today. Unfortunately, to paint a bird he had to get it to stand still so he was also a famous hunter. He killed the birds to paint them. The Audubon Society today does not mention that much, but almost all the pictures of him include his rifle.
The Creative Period also included many literary greats. The first American author of fiction to achieve international fame was Washington Irving with short stories like "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." He also wrote a biography of Columbus. Others included James Fenimore Cooper who was considered the first great American writer of fiction novels. He wrote five popular novels known as The Leatherstocking Tales. These included The Last of the Mohicans. All featured a frontiersman Natty Bumpo who became one of the most characters in American fiction. This is also the era of Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Harriet Beecher Stowe.
The transcendentalists were also important. Transcendentalism was the belief in a higher reality than found in the experiences of humans and that God cannot be described or understood in terms of the human experience. The foundations date back to Plato with his idea of the existence of absolute goodness. In the U.S., Deism and romanticism were influential. It was a celebration of individualism, self-examination, respect for the beauties of nature and mankind. Authors Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman were the most well-known transcendentalists. NOTE: Every college student should read Thoreau's famous essay "Civil Disobedience" (1849). This essay influenced leaders such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. It promotes the idea that immoral laws should not be obeyed but the dissident must be prepared to pay the consequences. Thoreau went to jail for refusing to pay taxes to support the Mexican War. That is Civil Disobedience.
Developments in history as literature also emerged. George Bancroft has been considered the "Father of American History." In 1834 he published the first of ten volumes of the history of the U.S. This was the first comprehensive history of U.S. that was thoroughly researched. Also at this time, Francis Parkman published The Oregon Trail (1849), another comprehensive historical view of U.S history (and a good book to read).
To many Americans, however, escapism was not what they wanted. They wanted to fix the problems around them. They wanted to reform society, change laws, improve institutions, and encourage morality. Numerous reform movements developed in the antebellum era from treatment of the mentally ill to educations. But, the two most famous and powerful were the Temperance Movement and the Abolitionist Movement. The Temperance Movement was a reform movement got get people, mostly men, to moderate the use of alcohol. The Abolitionist Movement was the effort to end slavery. These two reform movements would lead to a third important movement, the woman's rights movement.
So, what resources are needed for this to happen? A pro-business government helps. The U.S. government was perfect for industrial development because of the major philosophy of "laissez-faire" in the late 19th century. This was a "hands off" theory that government should not interfere in business or the lives of individuals. This meant there were no regulations on industry, no labor protections, and no environmental laws. At the same time in a somewhat contradictory system, governments (both federal and state) gave almost 200 million acres of land plus subsidies to railroad developers. Tariffs, taxes on imports, also tended to protect some U.S. business from cheaper goods outside the U.S. At the same time the U.S. Court system assisted government with decisions that usually sided with business and against labor in court cases.
Another necessity in an Industrial Revolution is capital or the money to invest in new industries. This gave the North an advantage. During the Civil War, northern industries had made money that could then be used in the Industrial Revolution which had begun in the late 1700s.
Of course, none of the Industrial Revolution would be possible without laborers. The industrialists wanted a particular type of laborer, cheap and unskilled. The U.S. had an abundance of these laborers from a variety of sources. Immigrants provided one major source but there were others including single young women who were drawn into the factories, ex-slaves who went north to compete for industrial jobs, and children. There were no child labor laws so they were brought into factories and coal mines as cheap laborers.
The U.S. was also lucky to have natural resources to fuel the Industrial Revolution. Coal and iron were necessities and the U.S. was self-sufficient in these resources. Later, when petroleum becomes important, again the U.S. will find itself in a good position with its own vast resources.
Also during this period, the development of the modern corporation assisted with the Industrial Revolution. The courts quickly granted rights generally reserved for people and for all practical purposes corporations were individuals under the law. This will be an advantage in the fight against labor rights that raged in the late 19th century.
One area that cannot be ignored in the Industrial Revolution is the inventiveness of the U.S. people. Long admired throughout the world for their innovative and inventive talents, the late 19th century brought forth many famous inventors and their inventions. Inventions were big and small. Between 1860 and 1890, 440,000 patents were filed for new inventions in the U.S.
Think about what life was like without a telephone (Bell, 1876), cars (Selden 1879), cash registers (Ritty, 1878), typewriters (Shoals 1867), adding machines (forerunners of the calculator; Felt & Burroughs 1888), barbed wire (Glidden 1874), the hand-held camera (Eastman 1888), chewing gum (Waterman 1884), zippers (Judson 1893), vacuum cleaners (Thurman 1899), or toothpaste tubes (Sheffield 1892). Other countries also produced inventions including the radio, the x-ray, the Bessemer process used to produce steel, and the pneumatic drill.
The most famous inventor of the era, though, was Thomas Edison. He represented a whole staff of inventors including African-Americans such as Lewis Latimer. Over 1000 patents came out of his Menlo Park, New Jersey, laboratory. His inventions (and those of his staff) included the electric light bulb. Much of the significant development, however, came from Lewis Latimer who figured out the filament. Edison also received the patents for the phonograph (forerunner of record player). See the "1877" page for the first recording by Edison and my preferred rendition of "Mary Had a Little Lamb."
Other Edison inventions included the mimeograph machine that most of you have never seen. It was a printing machine and what teachers used before current printers. It had purple ink that stained everything teachers' wore. Students loved mimeograph because of the smell and they would "huff" the papers when handed out. Students have always been funny!
Edison is also responsible for the dictaphone used by secretaries. The employer would tape his (usually) letters in the dictaphone and the secretaries would listen to the recording and type. Personally, I hated them! Being a secretary encouraged me to go back to college and get a degree!
The electric sewing machine that revolutionized the textile industry and dental drill (no comment) were also introduced by Edison. One of his most famous and relevant inventions was the moving pictures or movies. The first films were in cabinets. For a nickel, a person could view short films with no plot. The first was of a man sneezing. Others included horses running down a track or a train passing. The first pornography soon emerged, too. The one I saw was of a woman dancing around in a dress that exposed her legs to the knees. That was considered pornography in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. But, if you love going to the movies, you owe it to Thomas Edison.
One of his most unusual inventions was the electric chair for executions. He said he was personally opposed to capital punishment, but invented the electric chair as a more humane to execution compared to the day's hangings and shootings of the convicted. Still, there seems to be a contradiction there.
Thomas Edison was a complicated and interesting man and Americans loved him. He changed their lives. Think of life without electric lights, music in your home, or no movies. He envisioned an electrical world. At the same time he did have his idiosyncrasies. His economic philosophy included the idea that if he did not pay his bills, he would have more money. Bill collectors were intimidated by him due to his popularity so he got away with it enough to receive one of the highest salaries in the U.S. at $148,000 a year. But, in his household that lasted about six months. Both of his wives were involved in that activity, too. His first wife died of a brain tumor that he was embarrassed by because she acted differently.
Edison could also be impulsive. He would make announcements of an invention and then have to retract his announcement. He also had a rather unusual opinion about cleanliness. He rarely changed clothes because he believed that caused insomnia. He also engaged in wild experiments that led to blowing up the lab and testing a theory regarding morphine addiction. Morphine addiction was very common in this period especially for veterans. Morphine was used for everything in the military from a headache to an amputation. So, many veterans were addicted (not illegal at this time). Edison and a colleague came up with an idea to see what would happen if they gave a morphine addict all the morphine he wanted. Eventually, the experiment was cancelled when all they discovered was the morphine addict just used a lot more morphine and that was all.
Thomas Edison was an oddball. But, when he died in 1931 thousands lined up to pay their respects. His inventions stimulated the Industrial Revolution and changed the way Americans lived.
While Edison helped stimulate the Industrial Revolution, railroad development was the biggest boost. Between 1865 and 1900, 157,000 miles of track were built. This created jobs, improved transportation, and made communication easier. It led to the spread of settlements in the U.S. as railroad companies advertised in Europe to use the railroads and settle in the West. This, of course, increased immigration. At the same time, immigrants did most of the labor. In the West, mostly Chinese built railroads. While in the North, the Irish were put to work. In the Southwest, this led to an increase of Mexican immigration to build there. Meanwhile, the South had a different approach. Convicts became the cheap labor railroad builders.
The Industrial Revolution was good news and bad news. The good news included what some historians call an overall improvement of the standard of living. I have some problems with that conclusion, though. The inequality of improved lifestyles makes this debatable. Also, there were more consumer goods that made it necessary to make more money to buy the latest technological convenience. It parallels today's trends. Many Americans want the newest smart phone or computer or car. So, the pressure increases to make the money to acquire the goods. This really developed as result of the Industrial Revolution. On the other hand, thank goodness women do not have to labor over a scrub board to wash cloths, historically the worst chore women traditionally performed. Some labor saving devices deserved that label. Maybe I could live without a vacuum cleaner, though.
And then there was Nikola Tesla. If you want to get into an argument about the greatest inventor, here's the way to do it. Mention, Tesla and Edison and let them go at it. Many people think Edison stole all his ideas from Tesla and vice versa. The truth is Tesla probably was a greater inventor than Edison but not as good at public relations. I guess that's not fair so he is less well known today as a result but you should know about him so read this articles to give you an idea:
As a result of the industrial revolution, the middle-class did grew. That takes us to another problem. What is the middle-class? Are you middle-class? Do you have a class identity? In the U.S., we have minimized class distinctions throughout our history. That does not mean the U.S. lack economic classes, though. I identify with the working-class. Some Americans do not like that term. But, the way I look at it is I work and I have class. Seriously, I come from a blue-collar factory worker family. I work for a living not for fun. I'm working-class. How many of you consider yourselves working-class? Do any of you feel like you are lower-class (terrible term) or poor? These class distinctions became much more obvious and problematic during the Industrial Revolution.
A lot of good stuff came out of the Industrial Revolution. How could we live without Jell-O or Campbell's Soup? For a few Americans, it was even better. The Industrial Revolution created great wealth for some. And, many Americans began to complain that too few had too much. People seemed to be most angry about railroad companies. What had begun as a love affair with railroads soon turned to hatred. Numerous scandals became public knowledge including the Credit Mobilier incident in which $23 million of tax money had been lost in bribes, overcharges, and other misdeeds. The government land giveaway angered others especially when railroad companies began selling their free land to farmers. Others complained that railroad companies discriminated on rates for small versus big business and farms. The attitudes of the railroad industrialist did not help. Families like the Vanderbilts acted arrogant. They had that "too big to fail" attitude similar to today's problems. The emergence of "conspicuous consumption" did not add to the popularity of industrialists. They felt obliged to show off their wealth with great mansions in cities, huge advertised balls and parties, and riding around the cities in luxurious carriages. Americans were aware that 1/10 of the U.S. population controlled 9/10 of the wealth. Many believed that was out of balance.
Examples included Andrew Carnegie. He made his money through the steel industry. A Scottish immigrant, he lived the so-called "American Dream." He came with nothing and became a millionaire. He made approximately $40 million in profits in the 1870s. John D. Rockfeller of the petroleum industry (Standard Oil) averaged $45 million during the same time. Marshall Field of the retail industry made $600 per hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. His sales clerks made $12 per week for a 59 hour week. That was considered good pay in the 1870s.
As criticism of the wealthy increased, they fought back with their own defenses. Many promoted the "Gospel of Wealth." This preached that God made them wealthy and the poor had only themselves to blame. They did not work hard enough. They had bad habits. They had not been blessed with riches. Another popular defense was "Social Darwinism." Industrialists argued that capitalism should be allowed to run its course without regulation or oversight. "Survival of the fittest" would result. The fittest businesses and people would succeed. Do you know people who believe these defenses today?
They did not work in the late 19th century. Criticism grew. Agitation for reform to regulate business and industry began to dominate politics. This led to the first federal reforms on business in U.S. history. The first was the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. Initially, it was directed mostly toward the abuses of railroad companies. It led to the creation of of the Interstate Commerce Commission that is still around today. In 1887, though, it had many loopholes and little impact. Over the years, it was strengthened. Today, the commission continues to oversee interstate commerce including communications. By 1890, the second federal regulation was passed. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act aimed at destroying monopolies.
What are monopolies? Are they bad? Do you know any monopolies today? Like the Interstate Commerce Act the Sherman Anti-Trust Act proved to be ineffective in the beginning and the number of monopolies actually grew. The first court cases were attacks on organized labor rather than business. The Supreme Court ruled that labor unions were monopolies and, therefore, illegal. That was not what the law was intended to address. But, Sherman was strengthened over the years and is still used to break-up monopolies.
Meanwhile, many Americans began to agitate for reform in another way. They began forming labor unions and the right to collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is the right for workers to have an organization and negotiate with management for improvement of conditions and wages. So, their original fight dealt with just getting the right to form a labor union as well as making demands for better conditions.
Many of you may have negative feelings about labor unions especially those of you educated in the South. Southern leaders tend to be very anti-union and your school textbooks reflect this antagonism. But, it is important to compare labor conditions before strong labor unions and after them. It is also a way to compare conditions now with the decline in labor union power. So, try to have an open mind as we examine why labor unions developed in the U.S.
Laborers in the late 19th century had many problems. Conditions were terrible. In 1881, 30,000 railroad workers were injured. At U.S. Steel in Pittsburgh, 1/4 of the workers were injured or killed between 1907-1910. Wages were extremely low with the average for white males, the highest paid, being $10-12 per week when it took $20 per week to support an average family. Women made 1/4 of what white males averaged. Minorities made even less and had fewer opportunities including African-American women who had few choices outside domestic service. In addition, millions of children worked at even lower wages in mines, factories, farm labor, and other jobs.
All laborers had to deal with long hours averaging 10-18 hour workdays, six days a week, and few holidays usually only Christmas. Andrew Carnegie was considered to be quite progressive to give workers the 4th of July off as well. Jobs were monotonous, housing was inadequate, and there were no regulations. There was no minimum wage or maximum hour laws. There were no safety regulations or environmental controls. There was no Workmen's Compensation or Unemployment Insurance. Sexual and racial discrimination was rampant. The term sexual harassment did not even exist and requiring women to perform sexual favors to obtain and maintain employment was very common.
So laborers tried to organize but management had many weapons to prevent this. Courts sided with business as well as law enforcement, the National Guard, and U.S. Army in most cases. Strikebreakers or "scabs" waited in huge numbers to take the jobs of striking workers making strikes difficult due to the dominance of unskilled workers in the workforce. They were easily replaced. Skilled laborers were and are more difficult to replace. Some of you may remember "Scab" Football when the NFL players went on strike. It was not pretty.
In addition, business managers could use lockouts and simply lock out troublesome employees and shut down the factory altogether to break their efforts to organize. Others used the now illegal "yellow-dog contracts." This required employees to promise never to join a union to obtain the job. Then there was the "blacklist" in which employers would spread the word to other employers about troublemakers so they could not get jobs. Employers also resorted to hiring "union spies." Pinkerton's Agency, a private security company, was a labor spy agency who hired out workers to act as if they worked in the factory just to report any union activities. Despite all these obstacles, laborers continued to try to organize to establish their right to collective bargaining.
The first national labor organization dated back to 1866 with the formation of the National Labor Union (NLU) in 1866 Baltimore. It grew to include 60,000 members. In 1869, the Colored National Labor Union (CNLU) joined forces as an affiliate. This organization focused on organizing skilled workers. (Do you remember why?) Their demands included the abolition of prison labor that is an issue even today. Why would they care about this? Well, it's free labor and it's hard to compete against free labor. They also promoted the 8 hours work day and equal pay for women.
I find this interesting and very progressive since the U.S. has yet to reach that goal. Why would men care? Don't say because their wives worked because married women rarely worked outside the home. That was seen as stealing a job from a man. Most married women who did work were non-white women. The reason for this demand was that men did not want to have to compete with women who worked at lower wages. If they had equal pay, women had no advantage.
The main success of the NLU/CNLU was getting the passage of the Foran Contract Labor Act that got rid of the Contract Labor Act. This law allowed employers to hire immigrants before arriving who worked without pay to pay for the journey. It was very similar to indentured servitude which was and is unconstitutional (13th Amendment).
Unfortunate for the laborers, however, an economic depression hit in 1873. The Panic of 1873 became one of the worst depression in our history. Some refer to it as "The Long Depression" due to 65 months straight of economic decline. With this, many laborers lost their jobs and the union was damaged. Then, political conflict tore the union apart. The NLU wanted to support a third party candidate (Labor Reform party) while the CNLU preferred to remain loyal to the party of Lincoln, the Republicans. With 20% unemployment, after five years only ten local union groups survived.
Still, laborers tried to organize and in 1877 a turning-point occurred in labor history with the Great Railway Strike of 1877. Just think about what you would do if you had been a railroad worker in 1877. (Note: this is called the "Great Uprising" in the textbook.)
In 1877, railroad workers learned they would receive a 45% pay cut but continue the same hours and days a week. First workers in Maryland decided to go on strike and they were followed by other workers rapidly throughout the industry. These strikes were met with force. Rutherford B. Hayes became the first President to call out the military to stop a labor action. Laborers found this a very provocative move and violence erupted. It lasted two wees, 100 people were killed, and $10 million in damage was done. The unions were destroyed, the leaders fired, and pay cuts remained.
Meanwhile, another suspicious incident occurred in Pennsylvania's coal mines. A secret organization of Irish coal miners called the Molly Maguires had been accused of murder and destruction of mine property. 24 were convicted or murder and 10 were executed (1877-78). The only evidence against the Molly Maguires was the testimony of one Pinkerton's spy (remember them?). Today, most historians agree there was little evidence to convict the men. Some even have suggested the coal mine owners were responsible for the murder and damage to discredit the Molly Maguires.
Meanwhile, a new labor organization developed, the Knights of Labor, one of the most interesting in our history. This became the dominant union in the 1870s and 80s led by Terence Powderly. What made it unique was it was an inclusive union meaning anyone could join the union. Unlike the NLU/CNLY, this was one big union not a bunch of local groups. As a result, African-Americans, Hispanics, and women became part of the Knights of Labor. The first Knights group in the South was Hispanic cigar makers.
They did have some restrictions, though. They did not allow bankers, liquor dealers, stockbrokers, gamblers, doctors, and lawyers. Why would they exclude them?
By 1886, the Knights had won some strikes and had over 700,000 members. Then, it all fell apart as the result of a bombing at Haymarket Square in Chicago. Workers had gathered in 1886 to show support for a strike at a nearby factory. Suddenly, a bomb exploded. Seven policemen were killed immediately. Others opened fire and 11 protesters were killed. Eight anarchists were arrested, convicted, and 4 executed. One committed suicide but three were pardoned by the Governor of Illinois saying the evidence against the men had been "pure fabrication." Historians, in general, agree today. Just being anarchists convicted them. What are anarchists? Although the Knights had not been present at the bombing, they received the blame in the media and membership declined.
At this time, the most successful labor organization in U.S. history formed, the American Federation of Labor (AFofL). Founded and led by Samuel Gompers the AF of L, took an approach similar to the NLU/CNLU. He wanted to focus on organizing skilled laborers. He did not appreciate the inclusive nature of the Knights so minorities and women will be left behind to a great extent for many years. In addition, Gompers was pro-capitalism and conservative in terms of the use of strikes. The AF of L will dominate the labor movement from the 1880s. Their major demand was recognition of the right to collective bargaining. (note: It's not the AFL-CIO at this point ).
Despite Gompers' reluctance to authorize strikes, laborers did it anyway. A series of major strikes erupted in the late 19th century. In 1892, steelworkers went on strike against Carnegie at his Homestead, PA, factory. Known as the Homestead Strike, Carnegie refused to recognize the union that had formed there. His partner, Henry Clay Frick, told the laborers there would be no negotiations and there would be no review of the collective bargaining issue. A lock-out followed with armed guards to keep the workers out of the factory. Scabs and Pinkerton's guards came in to break the strike. A battle erupted and the union workers and their families took control of the factory. More fighting erupted and nine strikers and seven guards were killed. The state militia was sent in to protect the scabs. The union was broken after four months.
Then, in 1894, the Pullman Strike erupted. The Pullman car was a nice railroad car for the middle-class to enjoy their journey in comfort. The American Railway Union had been organized at the Pullman Company under the leadership of Eugene Debs. By 1894, it had 150,000 members who voted to strike against Deb's advice. The issue that began the strike dealt with life in the company town. A company town owns everything. It owns your house, your store, the schools, the churches, everything. The company also pays the workers. In 1894, the Pullman Company cut wages but not expenses such as for rent and food.
The Federal Courts dealt with this strike by issuing a federal injunction. An injunction mean cease and desist this action or else. The strike continued. The Army and police were called in. Violence exploded with 30 deaths. 700 union members including Eugene Debs were arrested. The union was destroyed and Debs got a six month sentence.
Have you ever noticed that many people who go to prison find something there? Many get religion. Eugene Debs got socialism. He exited prison as the leader of the Socialist movement in the U.S. He will run for President 5 times as the Socialist candidate. His last campaign was from prison. This time he was convicted of protesting against World War I (the Great War). That was illegal then.
This brings us to a relevant question. President Obama has often been called a Socialist. Well, what is Socialism? Here's the Wikipedia definition: Socialism It's as good as any other. There are many forms of socialism and many degrees. The key is the central government redistributes wealth on behalf of the workers. The U.S. is a mixed economy. We have capitalism (economic system based on private property, free enterprise, and profits). Think of examples of Socialism in the U.S. Being semi-retired, I take advantage of a couple like Social Security and Medicare. Maybe some of you have received assistance ranging from "food stamps" to educational assistance. Perhaps, you lost your job and received Unemployment Insurance or had to get family assistance through Workfare. Some of you may be veterans and receive VA benefits like I do for being a surviving spouse. There are many examples of socialistic programs in our government. Many people today would like to get rid of these programs. What do you think about that?
With so much turmoil in the U.S., people began to look around for someone to blame. Another depression, the Panic of 1893 added to the anxiety. The conclusion by many Americans was that there were just too many foreigners in the country. Nativism (anti-immigrant feelings) grew. The numbers of immigrants also increased. From 1870-1910, 20 million immigrants arrived in the U.S. In 1881 alone, 2/3 million arrived. The problems in the U.S. seemed to many the result of immigration. Does that sound familiar?
Immigrants received the blame for corrupt government, slums, labor conflicts, conditions on jobs, crime, disease, and immorality. Catholics and Jews found discrimination everywhere. But, there were no restrictions on immigration in the U.S. until the 1880s. Meanwhile resentment grew especially toward the so-called "New Immigrants." Prior to the Civil War, most immigrants were Protestants, had some money to establish themselves, and quickly assimilated. The Irish and Asians, however, did not receive as warm of a welcome. They were not Protestant. They did not come with money. They tended to stay by themselves and resist assimilation. The Irish, in particular, were singled out. They tended to be penniless, uneducated, unskilled and too political. And, of course, they were Catholic and many Americans were extremely anti-Catholic.
The first group to feel the results of the growing fear were the Chinese. They had originally come in the 1850s as miners and railroad workers. After the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869, thousands found themselves unemployed. When a depression developed in California, the Chinese received the blame. They were attacked in the streets. At two-day riot resulted in 1877. Some citizens began boycotting Chinese-made goods. Finally, however, the federal government acted in 1882 with the first restrictions on immigration in our history.
The Chinese Exclusion Act banned Chinese immigration for 10 years but could be and was extended beyond that period. Meanwhile, the Naturalization Act had been passed in 1870 that limited citizenship to only those of European or African ancestry. Other restrictions followed. Criminals, polygamists, the diseased, alcoholics, and prostitutes were also banned. I wish I could have been at Ellis Island when they asked women if they were prostitutes. I wonder how many said "yes."
At the same time as this, the Statue of Liberty was being erected. Here's the poem on the statue and a little history. (The New Colossus)
Statue of Liberty National Monument
Emma Lazarusí Famous Poem
A poem by Emma Lazarus is graven on a tablet within the pedestal on which the statue stands.
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
History of Liberty State Park
The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Photos
On the New York Harbor, less than 2,000 feet from the Statue of Liberty, Liberty State Park has served a vital role in the development of New Jersey's metropolitan region and the history of the nation.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries the area that is now Liberty State Park was a major waterfront industrial area with an extensive freight and passenger transportation network. This network became the lifeline of New York City and the harbor area. The heart of this transportation network was the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal (CRRNJ), located in the northern portion of the park. The CRRNJ Terminal stands with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island to unfold one of this nation's most dramatic stories: the immigration of northern, southern, and eastern Europeans into the United States. After being greeted by the Statue of Liberty and processed at Ellis Island, these immigrants purchased tickets and boarded trains, at the CRRNJ Terminal, that took them to their new homes throughout the United States. The Terminal served these immigrants as the gateway to the realization of their hopes and dreams of a new life in America.
Today, Liberty State Park continues to serve a vital role in the New York Harbor area. As the railroads and industry declined, the land was abandoned and became a desolate dump site. With the development of Liberty State Park came a renaissance of the waterfront. Land with decaying buildings, overgrown tracks and piles of debris was transformed into a modern urban state park. The park was formerly opened on Flag Day, June 14, 1976, as New Jersey's bicentennial gift to the nation. Most of this 1,122 acre park is open space with approximately 300 acres developed for public recreation.
Do you believe the U.S. wants immigrants like those described in the poem? I often refer to myself as European refuse because that's how my ancestors would have been seen. Do we want the homeless, poor, and huddled masses?
While the Industrial Revolution presented all sorts of interesting questions, our next topic matches it. Now we turn to the West and examine what was happening to American Indians, Hispanics, settlers, and women.