After reading this chapter, you should be able to do the following:
LO 1 Describe the evolution of urbanization in the United States in the last decades of the nineteenth century, and the disparities of wealth that emerged within those cities.
LO 2 Discuss immigration to the United States that took place in the last decades of the 1800s, including where most immigrants came from, why they came, and what their experiences were after they arrived.
LO 3 Discuss the ways in which politics in American cities
functioned during the late 1800s.
LO 4 Describe the early labor unions that were formed in the United States, including their goals, their activities, and their situations at the end of the nineteenth century. 9781133438212, HIST2, Volume 2, Kevin M. Schultz - © Cengage Learning. All rights reserved. No distribution allowed without express authorization
Three developments— urbanization, immigration, and increasing disparities in wealth— were key components of the Industrial Revolution in the North. What do you think?
. iStockphoto.com/Tunyaluck Phuttal
Most of the massive industries of the Industrial Age emerged in the North. There, because there was work, cities ballooned into metropolises. If the government intervened to assist the weak and the They attracted worldwide incapable, it would pollute the business environment and attention, and, for a variety prevent economic growth. of factors, the wealth of jobs Strongly Disagree Strongly Agree in the industrializing North 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 helped spur and sustain large-scale immigration from Europe, in a wave that dwarfed the immigration of the 1840s and 1850s. As the cities of the North expanded, economic disparities between the wealthy and the poor became more pronounced; the corporations of the Industrial Age generated enormous fortunes for a handful of people, leaving most industrial laborers in poverty. These three developments—urbanization, immigration, and increasing disparities in wealth—were key components of the Industrial Revolution in the North. Unsurprisingly perhaps, the politics of the era were poorly equipped to handle all these challenges involved. In a society uncertain about the moral role of politics (especially after the bloody Civil War) and eager not to miss out on the economic possibilities of the new age, politics during the last third of the nineteenth century were characterized by high voter participation, extreme partisanship, and massive corruption. By the early 1900s, three waves of reformers had emerged to demand that the government intervene to curtail the most oppressive practices of big business: (1) the labor movement, (2) the Populists, and (3) the Progressives. The first of these reformers—the labor movement—was the most radical. It emerged concurrently with the Industrial Age and focused on the working classes. Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, urban workers sought to establish a politics of class by means of an increasingly vocal labor movement. During its first years, this labor movement was raucous and provocative, questioning America’s commitment to capitalism and democracy. Socialists flourished in this environment, as did communists and anarchists. Each challenge to American democratic capitalism stirred fear among the American upper and middle classes, but that, of course, was the point. This chapter examines the impact of the Industrial Age in the North, focusing on urbanization, immigration, and economic disparity, as well as the inability or unwillingness of politicians to manage these challenges. It concludes with an examination of the first grassroots demands for reform in the shape of the labor movement.
As businesses grew, manufacturers needed more workers. Displaced farmers, immigrants from Europe and Asia, and African Americans from the South all flocked to the job