Define Industrial Supremacy Essay

The transformation of the economy

For a few decades in the 19th century British manufactured goods dominated world trade. Most mass manufactured items were produced more efficiently and competitively in Britain than elsewhere. She also had the commercial, financial and political power to edge out rivals at home and abroad. In some industries, most notably textiles, massive changes took place in technology and in the organisation of production causing dramatic productivity growth. This in turn brought a steep decline in prices. In many other sectors more modest organisational improvements coupled with greater specialisation and the employment of cheap labour brought similar, though less dramatic, results. An unprecedented range and variety of products thus came within the grasp of a new mass market both within Britain and overseas. No other country could at first compete so Britain became the workshop of the world.

The period from the late 18th century to the mid-Victorian years witnessed a major shake up and change in both the economy and society. This was seen in the organisation and finance of industry and commerce, the skills and work practices of production and technology, massive population growth and urbanisation and the development and disciplining of labour. Canal, river, road and sea transport were all greatly improved. From the 1840s, railways revolutionised the speed of communication and the transport of passengers and, more gradually, freight. The role of government on both national and local levels was considerably transformed. The dynamism of the economy shifted firmly from agriculture to industry and trade. Some regions, notably coalfield areas, rapidly industrialised. Others saw revolutionary change focused around the development of trade and ship building in port cities. Some regions concentrated on commercial agriculture and others stagnated. By the mid 19th century, industrialisation had altered the lives of women and children as much as those of men. Ideas of gender and ethnicity as well as class had changed. Industrialisation had affected consumption and commerce as much as industry, leisure as much as work. It involved shifts in motivations, aspirations, ideologies and aesthetics.


New consumers

A tea service and tray displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851  © Demand for goods fuelled the Victorian economy. Though British manufactures dominated European and transatlantic markets, domestic demand provided a secure bedrock for mid-Victorian prosperity. Increased demand resulted from rising incomes particularly for the middle classes and for workers with particular skills such as engineering. Demand was also driven by the sheer increase in numbers of consumers. This was a product of the population explosion and coupled with greater wage dependency, landlessness and urbanisation. Increased wage earning opportunities for women and juveniles boosted family spending, notably in textile districts and in the towns. More people were buying a greater variety of textiles, clothing, shoes, household and domestic items - on their list was china, cutlery, mirrors, books, clocks, furniture, curtains and bedding, as well as a variety of small wares, such as buckles, ribbons, buttons, snuff boxes and other fancy goods. More beer, butter, bread, milk, meat, vegetables, fruit, fish and all other foodstuffs were now being bought rather than made or grown at home.

An ornamental clock on display at the Great Exhibition of 1851  © It has been argued that this 'consumer revolution' from the later 18th century and into the Victorian period was also driven by social emulation. This was where each social class aspired to the habits and patterns of consumption of their superiors. This is difficult to substantiate but in a period of social flux and transformation there is no doubt that clothing, personal and household possessions were important ways of communicating one's position in society. Ever-changing fashions and designs also stimulated demand whilst new forms of marketing and retailing made products more easily available to the consumer. This was manifest in the growth of urban and village shops, the use of shop window displays, the development of city department stores (from the 1880s), and the extension of newspaper and billboard advertising.


The Victorian boom and the Great Exhibition

Exterior of the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park  © Until the 1840s the success of British industrial expansion rested largely on cotton and, to a lesser extent, wool textiles and a proliferation of smaller scale consumer goods. The economy flourished when cotton boomed and exports were high. However, when markets became overstocked and confidence was shaken, the economy went into recession. This pattern of boom and slump continued throughout the 19th century. However, the success of the economy came to rest on much broader foundations by the 1840s with the expansion of railway networks first at home then abroad. Furthermore, there was growing demand from other industrialising nations and the range of British manufactures was extended, particularly in iron and steel sectors and in engineering. Risks were great and bankruptcy rates were high but start up costs in most sectors were relatively low. Capital and credit were easily available and many individuals and families became wealthy and successful.

So superior in terms of competitiveness and pricing were most British manufactures of the mid 19th century, that the extension of free trade created a further positive dynamic. Even the much debated repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, which were laws preventing the importation of foreign grains until domestic prices reached very high levels, did not have the disastrous impact predicted by the agricultural lobby. This was because raised investment in the sector, growing specialisation and rising urban demands for foodstuffs ushered in a period of 'High Farming' and general profitability. Not only British products but British ships, British capital and British financial institutions dominated world trading.

The Great Exhibition of 1851 marked the peak of British economic dominance. A huge range of British products were displayed for foreign and domestic visitors in the monumental visionary architectural achievement of the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park. However, the storm clouds were already gathering. Other countries, particularly Germany, and the United States were catching Britain up. They had more abundant and cheaper supplies of energy and raw materials. Railways would soon open up the great granaries of the world in Russia, and north America flooding Europe with cheap grain. The way ahead lay in retreat into the unprotected and more easily exploitable markets of the Empire. Growth in the economy was decelerating from the 1870s. Some sectors, notably arable farming, textiles, iron and steel, engineering and several consumer goods were entering a more difficult phase. Entirely new industries such as chemicals were to be pioneered elsewhere, notably in Germany.


Find out more


The Industrial Revolution by Pat Hudson (Edward Arnold, 1992) - Useful on the roots and nature of industrialisation. Particularly strong on how the industrial revolution has and might be interpreted.

Progress and Poverty: An Economic and Social History of Britain 1700-1850 by M. J. Daunton (Oxford University Press, 1995) - The most up to date textbook on the economic history of the period.

British Society, 1680-1880 by Richard Price (Cambridge University Press, 1999) - A novel view about how the political and social history, as well as the economic history, of the Victorian period should be viewed in the context of changes since the 1680s.

The Factory Question and Industrial England, 1830-60 by Robert Gray (Cambridge University Press, 1996) - Excellent use of variety of sources to contemplate the coming of the factory and the extension of waged work. Particularly good on shifting constructions of class and gender on regional variations.

Places to visit

Visit an industrial museum There are a large number of industrial museums containing machinery from the industrialisation period. Amongst the most interesting for the Victorian period are: the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester; the complex of museums at Ironbridge Gorge near Telford; Quarry Bank Mill at Styal near Stockport, Cheshire; the Open Air Museum at Beamish, Northumberland; the National Railway Museum at York; and the Piece Hall Museum in Halifax West Yorkshire.

Visit a local history library Most larger town and county libraries have a local history section, often very extensive. Here can be found books about the history of the area, including the period of industrialisation. Such libraries also often contain microfilm or microfiche copies of some primary source materials such as Census returns for the 19th century (detailing the residents of all households) and local newspapers (try reading these to get a flavour of the period and its concerns from business and politics to crime and poverty). Sometimes such libraries also have printed primary sources such as trade directories (listing all firms in a town or region - these often date from the later 18th century, becoming more frequent in the 19th century).

Visit an archive The most easily accessible, important and varied archive collections are housed in County Record Offices. These contain most local government deposits from medieval times, Parish records, estate papers, business records, maps and plans and much more of interest and use in studying the Victorian period. The main archive for national records is the Public Record Office at Kew. Much the material is available online

Do some industrial archaeology You can learn a lot about the Victorian period simply by studying what remains of the period on the ground. It is fairly easy to date buildings from architectural features and from old maps and plans (copies of which can often be obtained at local history libraries) and from old photographs (there are now many published collections).

It's fun to look out particularly for industrial premises and warehouses and to see what function they serve these days. Using trade directors it's possible to match premises which survive today to their residents in the 19th century. Much Victorian housing remains, though increasingly this is middle and upper class housing as back to backs, tenements and courts have been bulldozed to make way for new developments. By using the Census Enumerators Books it's possible to have some fun matching a substantially unaltered Victorian house or street to its residents in the period 1841 to 1891.


Presentation on theme: "Chapter 17: Industrial Supremacy"— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 17: Industrial Supremacy
Doffers at the Bibb Mill No. 1, Macon, Georgia, Photograph by Lewis Hine. When bobbins of thread became full, doffers would replace them with empty ones.

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Rapid Industrialization betweenIndustrial Manufacturing: It had begun in the U.S. as early as the 1790s, but the last three decades of the 19th century saw explosive industrial growth.Growth of Wealth Inequality: The new industrial economy produced enormous wealth, but distributed it more unequally than the older American economy.Winners and Losers: Owners and big investors in industrial enterprises, professionals who served their needs (lawyers, insurance brokers, bankers, etc.), and a growing middle class experienced prosperity; industrial workers, and farmers generally did not.

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Sources of Industrial Growth:Industrial TechnologiesKey InventionsCyrus Field’s transatlantictelegraph cable (1866)Christopher L. Sholes’s typewriter (1868)Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone (1876): 1.35 million phones by 1900; 13.3 million by 1920.James Ritty’s cash register (1879)William S. Burrough’s adding machine (1891)Guglielmo Marconi’s radio telegraph (1895)

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Sources of Industrial GrowthIndustrial Technologies: Impact of Electric PowerGenerators: English scientist Michael Faraday invents the first device that converts rotary mechanical power into electricity (1831), starting the race to make electricity a commercially viable source of power.Thomas A. Edison ( ): Perfects the incandescent light bulb (1879); opens the Pearl Street generating station in Lower Manhattan (1882) to provide electricity to 59 customers; switch from direct current to alternating current improves transmission; large power plants begin providing enough current for public lighting, street railways, skyscraper elevators, factories, etc.High-Efficiency Steam Engines: Improvements in steam engines not only made large generators possible, but also high-speed ships that by the 1890s could cross the Atlantic in less than six days.

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Sources of Industrial GrowthIndustrial Technologies: The Technology and Steel ProductionKey Industry: The new American economy relied on railroads and urban construction, which required iron and steel. The iron and steel industry grew slowly until the 1870s, and then took off.Bessemer Process: In the 1850s, the English engineer Henry Bessemer and American William Kelly separately arrived at the same process for converting iron into steel by blowing air through molten iron, burning off the impurities.New Blast Furnaces: Industrialist Abram S. Hewitt imported the European “open hearth” steel-making method in the late 1860s that could produce 500 tons a week, a big leap in productivity. (Hewitt would later become mayor of New York City and one of the the major forces behind the construction of the NYC subway.)

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Nineteenth-century schematic of a Bessemer converterOpen-hearth furnace in operation ca. 1900

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Sources of Industrial GrowthIndustrial Technologies: The Technology of Iron and Steel ProductionNew Transportation Systems: Steel-making expanded into the Great Lakes regions because of the development of large steam freighters that could carry ore. Steel and the railroads became intertwined; Andrew Carnegie started working for the Pennsylvania Railroad, but then moved to steel production initially financed by the railroad.Rise of the Petroleum Industry: New York businessman George Bissell decided to market refined “rock oil” as an illuminant for lamps and lubricant for machines; his company drilled the first oil well in 1859 in Titusville, Pennsylvania.

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The Titusville, PA, oil well (1859)

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Sources of Industrial GrowthThe AutomobileAutomobile Invented: German engineerGottlieb Daimler builds the first auto thatcontains an internal combustion engine and is not affixed to a horse carriage in Used gasoline, a byproduct of oil refinement, as fuel.Duryea Brothers: Charles and Frank Duryea of Springfield, Mass., built the first American-made gas-powered car, which resembled a “horseless buggy,” and began commercial production.Henry Ford ( ): Produced the “Ford Quadricycle,” a gas-powered auto, while working for Thomas Edison in In 1901, he founded the Henry Ford Company, which was reincorporated as the Ford Motorcar Company in Detroit in He introduced the Ford “Model T” in 1908, which sold for $825. He was able to lower production costs by introducing assembly-line techniques in DecHenry Ford in 1919

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A Ford Model T in 1912

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Sources of Industrial GrowthThe AirplaneWright Brothers: Orville ( ) and Wilbur ( ), who had a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, began experimenting with a glider in , which led to the first heavier-than-air, powered, human-controlled flight for 12 seconds over the beach dunes in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on Dec. 17, 1903.Slow Development of Aeronautics in the U.S.: European governments, like in France, were faster to sponsor research than in U.S. federal government. It did create a National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics in 1915, and development was accelerated by World Way One. The first U.S. airmail service began in 1918.

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First Flight of the Wright Flyer, Dec. 17, 1903

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Sources of Industrial GrowthResearch and DevelopmentMenlo Park: Thomas Edison founded the first industrial research laboratory at Menlo Park, New Jersey, in 1876, and there developed products like the incandescent light bulb, early phonographic and film technologies, etc.General Electric: In 1900, this corporation based in Schenectady, New York, created one of the first corporate research labs, at a time when government support for scientific research was dwindling.

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Recreation of Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

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Sources of Industrial GrowthThe Science of Production“Taylorism”: Frederick Winslow Taylor( ), an American mechanical engineer, developed the principles of “scientific management” and served as one of the first management consultants. He advocated developing work tasks into smaller, simpler, tasks that could be standardized, done quickly and without much special skill.Assembly Line: The moving assembly line was introduced into Ford’s automobile plants in late 1913; it sped up productivity while making workers interchangeable. Other manufacturers quickly imitated this innovation, as well as the use of electricity for lighting, ventilation, etc. The Model T dropped from $950 in 1914 to $290 in 1929, and enabled the raising of wages and shortening of hours.

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Model T Assembly Line

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Sources of Industrial GrowthRailroad Expansion and the CorporationSignificance of Railroads: Gave industrialists improved access to distant markets as well as raw materials, developed new and more complex forms of corporate organization, and stimulated the American economy through money spent on construction and equipment. Total trackage expanded from 30,000 miles in 1860 to 193,000 miles in 1900.Importance of Government Subsidies: Federal, state, and local government subsidies were critical for railroad expansion.The Rise of the Tycoon: Mergers of railroads under tycoons like Cornelius Vanderbilt ( ) of the New York Central, James J. Hill ( ) of the Great Northern, and Collis P. Huntington ( ) of the Central Pacific generated massive wealth.

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Sources of Industrial GrowthRailroad Expansion and the Corporation“Limited Liability” and Public Sales of Stock: Corporations existed in the early nineteenth century, but had to perform a public good to obtain a charter. State laws in the 1840s and 1850s loosened this idea and allowed corporations to sell stock directly to the public, and offer “limited liability” to investors (legal liability for only the amount invested). Public sales of stock greatly increased the amount of capital and overall scale of enterprises.U.S. Steel Created: In 1901, Andrew Carnegie ( ) sold his massive steel holdings to banker J. P. Morgan ( ) for $450 million, who merged them with other steel companies to create the U.S. Steel Corporation, a gigantic $14 billion corporation controlling 2/3rds of the country’s steel production.

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Andrew CarnegieJ.P. Morgan

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Sources of Industrial GrowthRailroad Expansion and the CorporationNational Corporations: Isaac M. Singer ( ) created one of the first modern manufacturing corporations around his invention, the sewing machine. With the advent of the refrigerated boxcar, Gustavus Swift ( ) was able to build a massive meatpacking empire centered on Chicago.“Horizontal Integration” and “Vertical Integration”: The former means the control of companies that do the same thing; the latter means the control of companies that do different aspects of a process; Carnegie Steel, for instance, integrated vertically by not only owning steel mills, but also the ore mines and the railroad and steamship lines that carried the ore.

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Sources of Industrial GrowthRailroad Expansion and the CorporationStandard Oil: John D. Rockefeller ( ) founded the Standard Oil Company with several partners in 1870, in Cleveland, one of the nation’s main refining centers. Over the financially tumultuous 1870s, the company bought up 22 of its 26 Cleveland competitors, and by 1880, Standard refined 90 percent of the nation’s oil. Then it began to expand vertically by buying its own pipelines, tank cars, barrel factories, and delivery networks. It was the largest corporation in the world by this time.

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1904 Political Cartoon depicting Standard Oil as an octopus with tentacles in all facets of business and government

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Sources of Industrial GrowthRailroad Expansion and the Corporation“Cuttthroat Competition”: Gilded Age business tycoons, despite public endorsement of free market competition, sought to eliminate it because they saw it as destructive. To do so, they created cooperative arrangements like railroad pools—informal agreements to keep rates stable—and later, “trusts,” in which competitors would come together in “trusts” to share profits. Standard Oil became a trust. These new corporate forms inspired the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890.“Holding Company”: An 1889 incorporation law in New Jersey allowed corporation to buy up competitors. Standard Oil relocated there and began buying up the stock of trust members, becoming a “holding company,” establishing direct control of the trust’s companies. By 1900, one percent of corporations in the U.S. controlled a third of all manufacturing.

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Capitalism and Its CriticsSurvival of the FittestIdeology of Individualism: New economic forms were not taking away opportunities for advancement, but giving everyone a chance to become wealthy.Social Darwinism: English philosopher Herbert Spencer ( ) took Darwin’s ideas on evolution of species and applied it to human society, coining the phrase “survival of the fittest” in the sense of market competition.Corporate Wealth Legitimized: Spencer’s ideas about competition were used by industrialists to legitimize their wealth, but in fact most were trying to avoid competition.

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Capitalism and Its Critics: Gilded Age Literature“Gospel of Wealth”: Andrew Carnegie first publishes a version of this essay in 1889, emphasizing the social responsibility of wealthy self-made men to ensure that their money is distributed through philanthropy in socially useful ways, and not frivolously through heirs or organizations ill-equipped to handle these great sums.Horatio Alger, Jr. ( ): Wrote a series of wildly popular juvenile novels that were formulaic “rags-to-riches” stories in which an impoverished boy “made good” through a combination of hard work, but also a great stroke of luck. These books were nominally critical of the new economy, but later came to represent only “by-your-own-bootstraps” success.Louisa May Alcott ( ): Publishes Little Women in 1869; features an independent and ambitious young heroine, Jo March, who challenges the passive, sentimental female characters of most novels of the era.

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“This, then, is held to be the duty of the man of Wealth: First, to set an example of modest, unostentatious living, shunning display or extravagance; to provide moderately for the legitimate wants of those dependent upon him; and after doing so to consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds, which he is called upon to administer, and strictly bound as a matter of duty to administer in the manner which, in his judgment, is best calculated to produce the most beneficial result for the community-the man of wealth thus becoming the sole agent and trustee for his poorer brethren, bringing to their service his superior wisdom, experience, and ability to administer--doing for them better than they would or could do for themselves.”--From The Gospel of Wealth

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Horatio Alger Jr.

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Capitalism and Its Critics: Alternative VisionsSocialist Labor Party: Founded in the 1870s, the party became obtained a modest following under the leadership of Daniel De Leon ( ), an intellectual who had emigrated from the Caribbean. It sought to gain control of the state through elections, but never polled more than 82,000 votes. A faction broke off in 1899, ultimately joining the more influential American Socialist Party.Henry George’s “Single Tax”: Henry George ( ), a California writer and activist, published the bestseller Poverty and Progress (1879) that proposed a land tax to solve social problems. He believed increased value of land was produced by society at large, and not the owner, so a tax could be used to redistribute that wealth.Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward (1888): This science-fiction bestseller envisioned a future in which all destructive competition and class conflict had been eliminated through the evolution of a single great trust controlled by the government by the year 2000.

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Capitalism and Its CriticsThe Problems of MonopolyEconomic Concentration Challenged: Critics argued that monopolies—like railroads—could charge whatever they want due to lack of competition, fostering economic instability.Economic Instability: Beginning with the Panic of 1873, the American economy passed into a cycle of severe recessions every five or six years, leading people to believe the new business consolidation was at least partly to blame. Bank panics happened in 1873, 1884, 1890, and 1893.

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The Ordeal of the WorkerThe Immigrant WorkforceRapidly Expanding Working Class: Domestic migration into industrial areas from rural ones, as well as foreign migration: 25 million arrivals between 1865 and 1915, mostly from Europe but also from Asia, Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, etc.“New” Immigration: In the 1860s and 1870s, most Europeans came from Northern Europe, but after 1880 the flow came increasingly from South and Eastern Europe (Italians, Jews, Poles, Russians, Greeks, Hungarians, etc.).

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Immigrants landing at the Castle Garden Emigrant Depot in Battery Park in 1880.

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The Ordeal of the WorkerThe Immigrant WorkforceLabor Contract Law: Industrial recruiters could pay the passage of workers and deduct the cost from later wages, recreating a form of indentured servitude that had long since disappeared. This practice had been set up during the Civil War, but was outlawed in It continued illegally under the Italian padrone system, where an informal “boss” would recruit and the control labor of immigrants.Growing Ethnic Tensions: Newcomers like Poles, Greeks, and French Canadians accepted lower wages than Irish and English workers in New England textile factories. Italians, Slavs, and Poles became prominent in mining industries. Chinese and Mexicans competed against other migrant groups for low-wage work in the Far West.

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The Ordeal of the WorkerWages and Working ConditionsWages: The average American laborer made between $400 and $500 a year, below the $600 that was considered minimally comfortable.Harsh Work Conditions: Many newcomers from agricultural areas were not used to the harsh time discipline and repetitiveness of factory work. Most worked ten hour days six days a week.Women Workers: Since women and children could be paid lower wages, hiring them became common practice. By 1900, 20 percent of the manufacturing workforce were women, with many concentrated in the textile industries.Child Labor: During this period, roughly 1.7 million children work in factories and in agricultural work. By the 1890s, thirty-eight states had passed child labor regulations, but they were weak and not well enforced. Furthermore, they did not apply to agricultural work.

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The Ordeal of the WorkerEmerging Unionization“Molly Maguires”: Secret labor organization in Pennsylvania’s northeastern anthracite coal region of largely Irish workers who used violence and intimidation in their struggle for better wages and conditions, but often after being instigated by provocateurs. Mine operators, who received death threats called “coffin notices,” used private detectives to arrest and prosecute them. Several “Molly” leaders were tried and executed in , ending the movement.The Great Railroad Strike of 1877: In July, Eastern railroads announced a 10 percent wage cut due to the depression, which triggered a massive strike that brought the nation’s transportation network to its knees. Workers blocked rails, destroyed equipment, and rioted. State militias and even federal troops were called out to impose order. Troops often opened fire, and roughly 100 people were dead by the time the strike collapsed after forty-five days.

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Molly Maguire “Coffin Notice”

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Police beating back railroad strikers in Philadelphia in 1877

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The Ordeal of the WorkerThe Knights of LaborFirst National Labor Organization: Founded in 1869, it was the first attempt to create a genuinely national labor organization, and was opened to anyone who “toiled”—almost any worker except bankers, lawyers, liquor dealers, and gamblers—and even included African Americans and women in their efforts. The Knights fought for an eight-hour day and and end to child labor, and ultimately wanted cooperative worker ownership of businesses.Terence V. Powderly ( ): This son of Irish immigrants led the the Knights from 1879 to 1893 and transformed it from a secret organization to one that was out in the open. He embraced a “producerist” ideology that included small business owners rather than socialism. He was a nationally prominent spokesperson, although the Knights were not very effective due to disorganization.Seal of theKnights of Labor

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The Ordeal of the WorkerThe American Federation of Labor (AFL)Rival to the Knights: In 1881, the Federation of Organized Trade and Labor Unions was formed, and was renamed the American Federation of Labor in It rejected the Knights’ idea of one big union for everyone, and embraced the idea of many semi-autonomous unions under a larger umbrella organization.Samuel Gompers ( ): This English-born cigar maker became leader of the AFL from 1886 to 1924 (with onsmall break). He focused on immediate concerns: better wages and working conditions, and a shorter work day. The AFL organized a national “general strike” for May 1, 1886 to demand an eight-hour day.

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The Ordeal of the WorkerHaymarket Bombing: In Chicago, a hotbed of labor agitation, a strike at the McCormick Harvester Company was already in progress when the May Day strike of 1886 started. On May 4, a protest was organized since police had been harassing strikers, having killed four protesters the previous day. As police ordered the crowd to disperse, someone threw a bomb, killing seven policemen and injuring 67 others, leading police to shoot into the crowd, killing four more.Haymarket Trial: Eight anarchists—who did not throw the bomb—were put on trial for having incited the bombing. Seven were sentenced to death, four were hanged, one committed suicide in jail, and two had their sentences commuted to life in prison.Labor Discredited: After the Haymarket Affair, many middle-class Americans had little sympathy for the labor movement, associating it with “anarchism.”

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Mainstream press depiction of the Haymarket bombing

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The Ordeal of the WorkerThe Homestead StrikeAmalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers: This was one of the most powerful trade unions in the country, but new technologies had replaced many specialized skills, so by the mid-1880s Carnegie Steel got rid of the union in all but the oldest of the company’s three major plants: Homestead, near Pittsburgh.Henry Clay Frick ( ): Carnegie’s chief lieutenant decided to get rid of the union at Homestead, so he began lowering wages in 1890, to which the union acquiesced. In 1892, he did so without even consulting with the union.

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The Ordeal of the WorkerThe Homestead StrikeStrike: The union struck on June 30, setting up twenty-four hour pickets and even a patrol boat on the Monongahela River. On July 6, Frick sent in 300 strikebreakers from the Pinkerton Agency armed with rifles by boat. In the ensuing battle, three Pinkertons and ten strikers were killed, but the Pinkertons were forced to surrender and driven out.Government Intervention: At the Carnegie Company’s request on July 7, the Pennsylvania governor, Robert Pattison, sent almost all the state miltia, on July 12. That morning, 4,000 troops surrounded the plant and removed the picketers, and the company quickly brought in “scab” workers to replace the union workers. The town was placed under martial law, and popular opinion was behind the union, yet this sentiment was lost when an anarchist shot Frick in his office on July 23 (Frick survived the attack).

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Engraving depicting the Battle at Homestead, July 6, 1892


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