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Jump Start. If Social Darwinism works for Big Business, could it ever work for their employees? If so, how?. Working Conditions in the ‘Gilded Age’. ‘ I’m taking what they’re givin ’, ‘cause I’m working for a livin ’. Huey Lewis & The News. Problems of the Monopolies.

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jump start
Jump Start

If Social Darwinism works for Big Business, could it ever work for their employees?

If so, how?

working conditions in the gilded age

Working Conditionsin the ‘Gilded Age’

‘I’m taking what they’re givin’,

‘cause I’m working for a livin’.

Huey Lewis & The News

problems of the monopolies

Problems of the Monopolies

Artificially high prices from lack of competition

Economic instability – supply outpaced demand causing periodic recessions

Increasing income gap between wealthy and the poor

Increasingly angry workforce – strikes and introduction of Socialism to equalize “class” distinctions.

long hours dangerous work
Long Hours, Dangerous Work
  • Big Business drove labor hard – as hard as the owners felt they drove themselves.
  • Seamstresses, assembly line workers, coal miners, railroad brakemen, steel workers
  • 12 hour days, dangerous machinery, low pay, crowded with bad light and dusty air.
children held full time jobs
Children Held Full Time Jobs
  • Often female children worked so boys could go to school.
  • Immigrant families depended on child labor and didn’t necessarily feel it was all bad.
  • Children could do jobs larger people couldn’t.
reformers showed the evils
Reformers Showed the Evils
  • Jacob Riis photographed conditions
  • Newspapers published editorials and political cartoons about the abuses
  • Business grew bigger, more powerful and labor soon perfected the ‘art’ of organizing.
history of labor unions
History of Labor Unions
  • 1866 - National Labor Union – William Sylvis- 300 local unions in 13 states – focused on groups of unions

- Concentrated on Political power & candidates for office

  • 1868 - Knights of Labor – Terrence Powderly

- Organized individual Workers – all races & jobs – equal pay, injuries and avoidance of strikes – Last resort

- Too broad - died out after failed strikes damaged faith in leaders

social darwinism at work
Social Darwinism at Work



Labor Unions vs.

samuel gompers changes things
Samuel Gompers Changes Things
  • Skilled craftsmen only

American Federation of Labor (AFL).

  • Borrowed German Socialist philosophy in Cigar Makers Union
  • Used Strikes as MAJOR tactic.
  • Founded Collective Bargaining as a concept & tool to win concessions.
  • Helped wages rise & work week fall.
strikes socialism and violence
Strikes, Socialism and Violence
  • Tension mounted 1877 – 1893, corporations denied workers higher wages & shorter hours.
  • Immigrant workers brought socialist ideas from Europe & some leaders (Eugene Debs) agreed.
  • Great (Railroad) Strike of 1877 – Turning Point in Unionism. Strikes now became national events.
  • President Hayes ends it with Federal troops
  • Americans feared socialists - incited activism.
eugene debs industrial unionism
Eugene Debs & Industrial Unionism
  • Debs believed that workers could have power within their individual industries. Some strikes.
  • American Railway Union – All workers all races
  • 1894 won a wage increase through a strike, but faded away after a major failed strike.
  • “Paved the way” for other industrial unions.

This photo shows the devastated ruins of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s 28th Street roundhouse in Pittsburgh, soon after it was burned to the ground by strikers that July.

more bloody strikes
More Bloody Strikes
  • Haymarket Affair – Chicago (McCormick Plant ) A bomb thrown by an anarchist at police caused riots/deaths
  • Homestead Strike – Carnegie Steel, PA

Plant manager Henry Clay Frick cuts wages

- SCABS – workers hired to replace strikers.

- Strikers and armed Pinkerton Guards shoot it out &

strikers keep plant closed.

- National Guard ends strike & union loses power.

more bloody strikes1
More Bloody Strikes

Pullman Strike – Pullman, IL - - During the “Panic of 1893” Pullman laid of ½ of employees & cut wages of the rest by 45%...didn’t lower rent of homes!!

- After depression workers came back but not the pay/

- Eugene Debs called a strike & was arrested at the end

- President Grover Cleveland sends troops to end violence

Mineworkers Strikes – Mary Harris “Mother” Jones

ILGWU - Seamstresses, “Shirtwaists”

union appeal fades temporarily
Union Appeal Fades…temporarily
  • Business convinces gov’t. that strikes hurt commerce

used the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to win court decisions vs. labor.

  • Public tires of strike caused shortages – blame unions
  • Public fears influence of immigrating Socialist union members and avoids unions
  • Prejudice against immigrants taking American jobs.
  • Unions regain popularity in the ‘60s
social darwinism and unions today
Social Darwinism and Unions Today
  • Name two powerful unions, or industries in which they operate today.
  • Comment on whether unions have adapted according to the laws of Social Darwinism, since the 1880s, if so how, if not why do you think not?
  • Would you change your view from yesterday about whether Social Darwinism is a valid ideology for America?