Usa in the Second Half of the 19th Century

Topics: Strike action / Pages: 4 (816 words) / Published: Sep 5th, 2008
The second half of the 19th century introduced a new style of enterprise to America, Big Business. The 19th century values of work and of being an independent business man clashed with the modern 20th century values of extreme expansion with large work forces and of earning the most money possible. The rise of the robber barons and the captains of industry helped the economy by pushing America into first place in the production of several products and by creating many new jobs. Although these new opportunities appealed to the masses, not everyone was satisfied by his new occupation. The creation of labor unions was a reaction to the numerous complaints about working conditions, wages, and work hours. The first unions protested with peace and reason. Once they realized that nothing could be accomplished through negotiation, drastic measures were taken and violence was the answer to their problems. The clashes between management and workforce in the Great Railroad Strike, Homestead Strike, and Pullman Strike emphasize these crises that were resolved through force and destruction. Economic depression in 1873 was the main factor in setting off the 10% wage cuts and shortening of work days in the railroad business. In 1877, Laborers took action by seizing control of the rails by sequestering the rail switches and by blockading freight trains, only letting passenger trains through. Strikes broke out in many cities including Baltimore where 10 protesters and bystanders were killed by the local militia. Engulfed in rage, the laborers rampaged through the city destroying all things pertaining to trains. Only after Hayes was called for help did the real action begin. In Pittsburgh, the National Guard was called to quell another strike by any means necessary, even if it meant killing 20 people including women and children. Tempers exploded as fires raged through the city destroying $4 million worth of railroad property. The country suffered an estimated 100

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