The late 1800’s was a vital period in America in which the first forms of major industry were formed. Industrialization is the process of replacing human labor with machines (Lecture, 9/10). Prior to large-scale companies, the free market system depended on supply and demand for the prices of goods. This meant that the prices were generally higher and about half of the population were self-employed. This would all change, as the enormous industries would dominate the market.
Large corporations removed independence in the workplace. Machines replaced labor and allowed for mass production. The ability to produce enormous amount of one product often forced factories to close for several months of the year. This was because they produced the product so quickly that they could not sell it fast enough and were forced to close until the demand was present again. The prices for necessities dropped and eliminated small family owned businesses. These machines de-skilled work and allowed any person to be hired and paid significantly lower wages. Every worker became an object that could be replaced, especially children. Families had no choice but to send their children to work in factories that were dangerous. This eliminated education of children amongst the poor population. Children were used to untangle looms, fix machinery in small places and in many cases would loose a hand or foot. These factories did not care and would replace them with another child in a flash. These workers thought that they should go on strike to get higher wages, better working conditions, and better treatment. The corporations quickly replaced them with the hundreds of thousands of people waiting to get a factory job.
The necessity for money triggered many to flock to cities that previously lived in the country as farmers or in other countries. The vast movement caused rapid overcrowding of cities. Millions of immigrants new to America lived in horrid living conditions where disease spread fast, and there was merely not enough room to live. The development of slums caused segregation within the cities as well as allowing disease to spread faster and easier than ever. The slums were not the cheapest housing, but when immigrants came to the country, they did not know anyone and would generally stick with people emigrating from the same countries as themselves. This poor quality of life forced between 25%-35% of immigrants to return home (Lecture, 9/17). For those fortunate enough to not reside in the slums, they wanted to stay far away from them. The upper class men created communities in which tenants needed to sign an agreement stating they would not sub-let their apartment or bring pets and various other rules governed. The wealthy population was often involved in politics where they used people’s poverty to their advantage. They often offered goods in exchange for votes and would have people put on costumes to vote more than once and keep providing them with more goods (Lecture, 9/24).
Jacob Rills stated that slums are the result of the environment and not the factories. He helped pass the New York State Tenement Act of 1901 banning tenements, requiring windows, courtyards, bathrooms, and fire safety (Lecture, 9/24). With this, George Waring established a citywide cleaning system while filtration of water was under way. By 1909, 78% of city residents had sewers and disease dropped 20% (Lecture, 9/24).
Some believed that immigrants were poor because of their socioeconomic background. Jane Addams in 1889 established the Hull House in Chicago that helped immigrants adapt to the American society. They assisted children, provided food, clothes and most important housing. By 1910, there were over 400 nationwide. This same group battled against prostitution, gambling and drinking (Lecture, 9/24).
Other groups believed that cities were negatively affected because immigrants were inferior to