Self-help in Hard Times Patricia Rivas
Industrial Workers of the World • The Industrial Workers of the World also known as IWW and the Wobbles was a union that believed that all workers should be united with common goals in mind. They were against the ideas that came with Capitalism. • By 1919 their leader was in prison however they believed in a general strike and that happened that year in Seattle, Washington. • 100,000 workers went on strike demanding better pay. It was a very peaceful strike and many acknowledged that the crime rates actually declined during the strike. • “The stroke had been peaceful but after the strike there were raids and arrests: on the Socialist party headquarter, on a printing plant. Thirty-nine members of the IWW were jailed as ring leaders of anarchy. (Zinn 379)
Frank Everett • Frank Everett also known as Wesley Everett by many historians was a lumberjack and member of the IWW • Fired a rifle into a crowd and ran into the woods. He jumped into a river but when the current was too strong we shot the leader of those chasing after him. Which led to his arrest. • Everett tortured and locked up in jail. That • That night his jail cell was broken into and he was tortured even more. They then took him on a bridge and hung him • “No one was ever arrested for Everett’s murder, but eleven Wobbies were put on trial for killing an American Legion leader during the parade, and six of them spent fifteen years in prison. (Zinn 379) • The reason that was used to back up the response to this strike was that the people were trying to start a revolution.
Taking a Stand. • In an article by the nation they described these strikes as, “The common man… losing faith in the old leadership, has experienced a new access of self-confidence, or at lease a new recklessness, a readiness to take chances on his own account… authority cannot any longer be imposed from above; it comes automatically from below.” (Zinn 380) • There had been workers strikes rising all over the world in places like Korea, India, Egypt, San Francisco, England ect.. It was very obvious that many things needed to change and the workers were realizing that they needed to take matters into their own hands if they were wanted to see a change happen in their own benefit.
Immigrants in Strikes • The Department of Justice began to focus on targeting undocumented immigrants that were involved in the strikes because it would be easier to arrest them and get them to just stop protesting all together. • One of the ways they did targeted the immigrants was by hiring steel corporations and making them spread rumors to stir up conflict among the different races. “We want you to stir up as much conflict between the Serbians and the Indians. Spread data among the Serbians that the Italians are going back to work… Urge them to go back to work or the Indians will get their jobs.” (Zinn 381)
1920s • It seemed as though the nation was in a better place. The economy was doing well enough that people were not rebelling and going on strikes before. • Congress passed laws against immigrants and set quotas that determined the number of immigrants allowed to come to the United States. • “The quotas favored Anglo-saxons, kept out black and yellow people, limited severely the coming of Latinos, Salvs, Jews. No African country could send more that 100 people; 100 was the limit for China Bulgaria for Palesttine; 34,007 could come from England or Northern Ireland…”(Zinn 382)” • The immigration quotas influenced in increase in the members of the Ku Klux Klan. • Even though a lot of the population was doing well many families still did not have many necessities
1920s • “ Millions of people were not doing badly- and they could shut out of the picture the others-the tenant farmers, black and white, the immigrant families in the big cities either without work or not making enough to get the basic necessities.” (Zinn 382) • The class that people belonged to was very obvious at the time and it was apparent in the jobs that people worked. It was a very small population that actually made a good income but that population was large enough to stop many strikes and prevent them from having a large impact.
Fiorello La Guardia • Fiorello La Guardia was a congress man from a district in East Harlem. He was one of the few political figures that spoke out for the poor. • He was concerned about the fact that many families could not afford the meat in his district because the price was so high. He was sent back a bulletin on how to use meat economically and his response was: “ I asked you for help and you send me a bulletin. The people of New York City cannot feed their children on department bulletins…The housewives of New York City have been trained by hard experience on the economical use of meat. What we want is the help of your department on the meat profiteers who are keeping the hard-working people of this city from obtaining nourishment”(Zinn 384)
The Great Depression • “A Socialist critic would go further to say that the capitalist system was by nature unsound a system driven by the overriding motive of cooperate profit and therefore unstable, unpredictable, and blind to human needs.”(Zinn 387) • During the great depression the United States economy was at a halt. Very large numbers of banks and businesses were closing at a very rapid rate. Ford who employed 128,000 in 1929 was down to only employing 37,000 in August 1931. • Herbert Hoover refused to recognize how badly the economy was doing and even claimed, “We in America are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land” (Zinn 387)
The Great Depression • Many families were starving and the problem was not that there was not any food to be sold. There was plenty of food and clothing available to buy but they were not being sold at affordable rates. • Many families could no longer afford to pay rent therefore they were forced to move into shacks and these were known as Hooversvilles. • Many self-help organizations sprang up in 1932 but quickly fell by 1933 because the economy was in such a horrible place and the job was to big to fix.
Franklin D. Roosevelt • When elected he proposed what was known as the New Deal. • The New Deal was supposed to help the economy get out of the great depression and prevent it from happening again in the future. • Implemented programs such as social security and unemployment insurance.
References • Zinn, Howard. "Self-help in Hard Times." A People's History of the United States: 1492-2001. New York: HarperCollins, 2003. 377-406. Print.