United State Labor History

Topics: Industrial Revolution, Working class, Marxism Pages: 4 (1563 words) Published: September 2, 2013
United States Labor History
Evaluate the way the law shaped working life in America from the Revolution until the eve of the Civil War. Consider the constitution, court decisions and other aspects of the law you think are relevant.

When one considers the effect that the Industrial Revolutions of the 19th and early 20th century, the workers whose backs bore it are seldom reflected upon. It becomes ponderous whether the revolution was a boon or a malediction upon the working class and if they were truly aided by the great rise in standard of living that hallmarked this time. Those who would defend the period would cite pre-Industrialization scenarios, toiling under feudal lords with no future beyond death and an unmarked grave. An opponent of this idea, such as the renowned Karl Marx, would state, 'The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, and new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.

Though the great revolutions lead to many hardships for the working class, it can be said that they benefited from it equally. As historian Walter Wallbank noted in his Living World History, there was a significant improvement of the diet of the average worker. 'Meat was a rarity in the 18th century. By 1830 meat and potatoes were staples for the artisan and wheat took the place of coarser rye and oats. The cheaper goods that were one of the hallmarks of industrial revolution also served as a significant increase in the standard of living for the working class. Because textiles had dropped drastically in price, the average worker was able to afford them, which were "easily washable and thus more sanitary. Departing from morality, David Ricardo suggested his 'Iron Law' of wages. This thesis stipulated that improving the lifestyle of the average worker would harm them in the long run, as higher wages would lead to an increase in...
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