Essay on Trade Union and Gilded Age

Submitted By Procrastinating1
Words: 597
Pages: 3

Industrialists vs. Organized Labor The Gilded Age was a time of chaos, corruption, and capitalism. After the Civil War, American industry and production boomed, especially in the North. Not only was the first millionaire class established, but also the wide rift between the rich and the poor became deeper and wider. Those who did succeed in their innovative industries—such as Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and J.P Morgan—were called captains of their industry. However, people developed a habit of also calling them “robber barons” because of their somewhat ruthless means of achieving and maintaining their high statuses. Their tactics revolutionized the idea of business, but it totally wiped out any competition in the process, not leaving much room for anybody to succeed but themselves. This era, the time span of the final three decades of the nineteenth century, was a time of appalling labor violence and the war for control between employers and their employees. Though it seems that the Gilded Age was a dark age, it did have its positive aspects. Many people felt that those who were “destined” by God to become rich were obliged to better society, thus promoting philanthropy. It also brought together industrial workers, impressing upon them the need to unite and organize in order to throw off the steel-iron grip of their proprietors. During the Gilded Age, workers organized the first American labor unions, which worked for the betterment of working conditions. These unions gradually helped to improve their wages and working conditions. An example of an attempt at organized labor was the National Labor Union, formed in 1886, which attracted an enormous amount of white men, but only lasted for six years until the depression of 1873 managed to kill it. However, it secured the eight-hour workday for government workers, which was a giant step forward for workers.
Terrence Powderly structured the Knights of Labor, an attempt that begun in 1869 by and continued secretly until 1881. Like the Nation Labor Union, it campaigned for economic and social reform and won a number of strikes for the eight-hour workday and were successful against Jay Gould’s Wabash Railroad in 1885. However, the Knights of Labor became entangled in a sticky scandal and were beheaded.
In 1886, Samuel Gompers