The nineteenth century changed the basis of work dramatically from an artisan based system to a mass production based system. The industrial revolution shifted this pattern of artisan based work to industrial. By the year 1880 the Census Bureau discovered that most of the workforce were involved with non-farming jobs. A decade later, two thirds of Americans worked for wages rather than owning a business, farm, or craft shop. Factories had drawn in people from everywhere with the promise of employment. Of course, these factories were in industrial cities such as New York, which created a whole new working class. From 1870 to 1920 about 11 million Americans ditched the farms for city promise and there were 25 million immigrants that had come to the country. This use of machinery with the division of labor reduced the required skill level of workers and also increased the output per worker This indeed meant change for these workers. Minority workers started to experience more freedoms.
Depending on the industry, a skilled worker could demand high wages and have power in the production process. Before one could rely on their shop or tools, in this new era a worker’s economic independence relied on their technical skill. For instance, skilled underground workers could be free of managerial supervision while on the job due to “the miner’s freedom”. These freedoms were distributed unevenly and only applied to a small portion of the industrial labor force. Some left out would be semi-skilled workers who tended machines in new factories. The populist party, or peoples party, grew from two decades of southern and western farmers suffering. Farmers were plagued by declining prices for their goods, high interest rates, economic depressions, land speculation, bad crop years, chronic debt, and increased unpredictability of national and international markets for farm products.
All of these factors played a role in making farming less profitable. Farmers responded to the situation in various ways. They criticized banks and railroads, which were the businesses that they depended on for credit and transportation to markets. They formed alliances and created cooperative ventures for storing and marketing their crops. Also, political action was taken after organization and they advocated policies designed to ease their debt, including regulation of railroad shipping prices, low-interest federal loans, and inflation of the money supply. The party gained recognition and spread their message through more than 1,000 local newspapers that were established as well as numerous pamphlets on political and economic questions. Also, many traveling speakers embarked on a journey throughout rural America. With the creation of the thirteenth fourteenth and fifteenth amendment it seemed as though white supremacy was coming to an end or at least its reign was.
By 1865 blacks had obtained access to streetcars and railroads on an integrated basis. But the populist party threatened the conservative democratic rule in the south. At this time, many blacks that could still vote joined the party. The political rebellion needed to be checked and southern democrats joined in on white solidarity to prevent African Americans from having such an impact on close elections. Thus, the alliance created anti negro sentiment, imposed strict segregation and the disenfranchisement of African Americans. After the disenfranchisement, few could participate in American democracy. They were barred from joining most unions and from skilled employment which is basically just no industrial freedom whatsoever. Lynching was a result of violent white people trying to reinvent new ways impose white supremacy.
World War I tremendously impacted the United States economically as well as socially. During the war race riots between African Americans and Whites became more common during 1917-1919. While men were away fighting the war, women were recruited to do their jobs. Women were given the right to vote on August 18th, 1920. This did not create a societal shift as women still thought it was right to vote with their husbands or not at all. Government incentives encouraged farmers to produce even more. This was great buit farmers and the agricultural industry suffered heavy cut backs because of the added competition from South America, deflationary federal reserve policies and a lesser demand for American goods from Europe. The end of the war period caused a recession for farmers and a large portion of American society involved in farming had become bankrupt. Although the war wasn’t so great for farmers, America mostly benefitted economically from the war in Europe. We sold food, munitions, and medicine to Britain and allies which boomed our economy. The war also led to an expansion and increase in our federal governments power. All in all, the World War I had an enormous impact on the U.S. and created a basis many reformations and changes in our society to come.
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