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Organized Labor Dbq Essays

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Relying on a critical evaluation of the accompanying documents and your knowledge of the time period, assess the validity of this statement: "The growth of organized labor between 1875 and 1900 was not a radical threat to American society."
Document A
Source: From the Depths, William Balfour Ker, 1906 ________________________________________
Document B
Source: Terence V. Powderly, The Knights of Labor Champion Reform, 1887
We are breaking up old traditions. We are breaking up hereditary rights, and planting everywhere the seed of universal rights. We are breaking up the idea that money makes the man and not moral worth. We are breaking up the idea that might makes right... We are…show more content…

. . when I tell you that all they ask for themselves is a fair chance; that you shall be no worse off by giving them that chance; that you and they will dwell in peace and harmony together; that you and they shall make on steady and strong pull til the laboring men of this country shall receive such pay for time made as such will secure them a comfortable living for their families, educate their children and leave a dollar for a rainy day and old age. Slavery, or slave labor, the main cause of degradation of white labor, is no more. It is the proud boast of my life that the slave himself had a large share in the striking off of the one end of the fetters that bound him by the ankle, and the other that bound you by the neck.
Document H
Source: The New York Herald (on the great railroad strikes of 1877)
The sight presented after the soldiers ceased firing was sickening. Old men and boys attracted to the [scene] . . .lay writhing in the agonies of death, while numbers of children were killed out right. Yellowside, the neighborhood of the scene of the conflict, was actually dotted with the dead and dying; while weeping women, cursing loudly and deeply the instruments which had made them widows, were clinging to the bleeding corpses.
Document I

How Successful Was Organized Labor In Improving The Position Of Workers In The Period From 1875 1900? Analyze The Factors That Contributed To The Level Of Success Achieved

From the years 1875 through 1900 many organized labor unions and strikes occurred. The point of these strikes and labor unions was to eliminate such long hours and low wages that many laborers of that time had to endure. The labor unions demanded eight hour workdays. The labor unions and strikes also worked to eliminate many other hardships that laborers had. The labor unions and strikes were not successful. The only thing they really achieved was in bringing attention to the plight of the worker as well as bringing attention to child labor. However, in their demands for better wages and an eight hour workday, they were unsuccessful. Furthermore, during this time period, the companies and employers enjoyed an improvement in the methods of production in machinery, while at the same time hardly losing anything to these strikes; at most having to agree to pay a little more wages to their workers. However, the eight hour workday was not an effect of the labor unions and strikes of 1875-1900.

One reason and factor to why the labor unions and strikes were not all that much effective was that the newspapers as well as other propaganda was in general against the labor unions and chose to generally portray them as ignorant and foolish. This can be seen from Thomas Nast's cartoon in Harper's Weekly in 1878 where he showed that what the laborers were trying to do was the equivalent of killing the goose that lays the golden egg, with the employers being the goose and the laborers being the killer. Nast portrayed them as being foolish for not realizing that by striking against their employers they would subsequently be "killing" them.

Another reason why the labor unions and strikes were not effective was because there were too many different groups that were working to help labor interests. This led to ineffectiveness as the different groups kept getting in each others way. This is illustrated in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper in 1887 in which he shows many "cooks" (groups supporting laborers) fighting over the "labor interest broth". This picture shows that while these groups kept fighting with each other, they were not taking care of the broth.

Another reason why the labor union and strikes were not effective was because of the radical ways through which the strikes were conducted. The strikes could sometimes get so radical that it could lead to violence and sometimes even killing. This can be seen from the Haymarket Riot in which someone threw a bomb into a crowd of policemen. This led to gunfire, the death of eight policemen, multiple civilians, and four anarchists being tried for murder. In general, when groups start to become radical, popular...

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