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For more information, please see full course syllabus of AP U.S. History
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Working People and the Labor Movement in the Gilded Age

  • Industrialization set people in motion: farm folk migrated to cities & artisans entered factories
  • U.S. women were increasingly working more for wages (still under 5% by 1890) although 30% of African American women worked for wages
  • The labor movement will eventually grow during this period but the emphasis would be on collective bargaining instead of socialism
  • The Knights of Labor was founded in 1869 by Uriah Stephens, a Philadelphia tailor, as a secret society of garment workers in Philly, by 1878 had emerged as a national movement.
  • On May 4, 1886, in Chicago was one of the most famous demonstrations that was blamed on anarchists who advocated a stateless society; the anarchists were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and antiunion hysteria broke out
  • The AFL (American Federation of Labor) created in 1886 & the underlying principle was that workers had to accept the working world as it was; it focused on specific workers’ ‘bread and butter’ issues: wages, hours, & working conditions
  • Homestead Strike: Frick cut wages by nearly 20%, used a lockout, private guards, & strikebreakers to defeat the steelworkers’ walkout after five months; this led to the Homestead Strike
  • Eugene Debs led the American Railway Union & led a secondary labor boycott: force was applied on a second party (the RRs) to bring pressure on the primary target: (Pullman). They boycotted & tied up rail transportation across the country
  • In re Debs: the Supreme Court approved the use of injunctions against strikes, which gave employers a very powerful tool to break unions
  • More about strikes: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carnegie/revenge.html

Working People and the Labor Movement in the Gilded Age

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Overview 0:07
  • The World of Work 2:14
    • Farm Folk and Artisans
    • White-Collar Jobs
    • Negative Aspects of Urban Life
    • Outside Labor For Industries
  • Types of Jobs 6:53
  • Working Trends 8:10
    • Women Working More for Wages
    • Race, Ethnicity and Gender
    • Mechanized Jobs
    • Collective Bargaining
  • Immigration Affects the Working World 10:53
    • Huge Migration from the old World
    • Austrian, Hungarians and other Slavic People
  • The Labor Movement 12:09
    • The Knights of Labor
    • Cooperative Commonwealth
    • Social Reforms
  • Collective Bargaining and Closed Shops 14:02
    • Terence Powderly
    • Closed Shops
    • Open to all who Toiled
    • The Woman's Bureau of the Knights
  • The Knights Boycotted Against Gould 16:15
    • Boycott Against Unfair Employers
    • Jay Gould's Southwestern Railway System
    • Disorganized Strike
  • Haymarket Square Incident 17:38
    • Blamed on Anarchists
    • An Antiunion Hysteria
    • Yellow-Dog Contracts
  • The Knights of Labor 20:21
  • The AFL 20:28
    • American Federation of Labor
    • National Trade Unions
    • Bread and Butter Issues
    • Samuel Gompers
  • Samuel Gompers, Unions and Modern Strikes 22:53
  • Homestead Strike 24:21
    • Henry Frick
    • Put an End to Trade Unions in the Steel Industry
  • Pullman Strike 26:13
    • President Cleveland
    • Secondary Labor Boycott
    • Contempt of Court
  • In re Debs in 1895 28:50
    • The use of Injunctions against Strikes
    • Socialism and the American Socialist Party
  • The IWW 30:07
    • The Wobblies
    • Marxist Class Struggle
    • General Strike
    • Syndicalism
  • Influence of Socialism and Debs 31:06
    • Social Darwinists
    • Eugene Debs
    • Labor Unions
  • Example 1 33:02
  • Example 2 35:40
  • Example 3 37:09