American dream promises equal opportunity to pursuit one’s happiness, personal wellbeing, and reward for all those Americans and immigrants who endure, overcome, and ultimately prevail hardships. However during the era of American Industrialization, many people were exploited and forced to work or else face starvation. New inventions increased the rate of production and the efficiency of the workers, thus greatly increasing profit. Success of capitalism further promoted continuation of exploitations lead on by few rich that are influential. American Industrialization had a negative effect on many groups of people, who were pursuing the great American Dream, and yet oppressed by selfish, greed driven upper class.
With the introduction of the machinery, factory owners no longer needed “skilled” craft workers for production of factory goods. The machines performed faster, better and with more reliability. At most jobs in factories required neither great strength no special skills any more. The owners thought women could do the work just as well as or better than men. In addition, they were more “docile” and “compliant”. Therefore, many women workers were hired during the progressivism era. Even though the wage was low, working hours were long and working condition was less than satisfactory, these women had no choice but to work, for they need to support their family. The tale of Rose Stokes is a good example. The factory owners were getting richer and richer, by cutting wages, and providing less compensation for his workers. Many times, women went on strike to protest the wage cut and hour increase. Nevertheless, it proved useless, because of the rapid influx of poor immigrants arriving into United States from Europe: to earn a living, these immigrants were willing to accept even lower wages and poorer working conditions.
Women in America did not have the right to vote until the year 1920. If women fought harder for their right to vote and gained suffrage earlier, I believe that women would have had a louder voice in the society, in turn better raise awareness of the exploitation and demand better treatment.
In colonial America, most manufacturing was done by hand at home. Relationships between the employer and workers were generally harmonious. They worked side by side, shared the same interest and held similar political views. However during the era of American Industrialization, as towns grew in cities, the demand for manufactured goods increased. Employers no longer worked with his employees. Employees were looked upon as a commodity; employer would be more concerned with the cost of their labor than their welfare. Workers were furious with the poor working conditions of the factory. Before the Industrialization, many workers had taken pride in their handicraft skills. Now, machines replaced most of their work, and they were reduced to the status of common laborers. They were often replaced by other workers who would accept lower wages. Similar to the union simulation game played in class, in order to survive, Ms. Rosen was able to cut down wages of her workers and still keep many of them. Many workers believed that the way of socialism was favorable to the country’s common laborers. There was much use of court rulings to halt strikes. For example, when Eugene Debbs did not cooperate with the government to return his rail road workers, he was arrested and the workers were forced to work. In 1890, for example, Congress passed the Sherman Anti-trust Act. This law’s purpose was to punish big business corporations that merged to eliminate competition. “Survival of the fittest” ideal of the social Darwinists were destroying the small businesses. Yet more and more it was being used as a weapon against unions. The factory owners used federal troops and state militia against strikers. They hired private armies against the strikers with an intent to maim and kill for stopping union strikes. These rapid changes in the ways of business caused a wide spread of socialism. Many common workers believed that the government should take full control of the big business and industries to regulate price, working condition, and enforce illegal deals’ between industries to wipe out competition.
I believe that total overthrow of the country’s economic system would not have accomplished the goal of reaching idealistic society where everyone is well-paid and happy. However through compromises and tweaks within the law, common workers can gradually, eventually benefit.
To many people, it was clear that justice for salary men would not come easily. Government law making process is without a doubt too slow, and it’s difficult to bend the influential upper-class to earn less money. Workers in America faced a long, uphill challenge to win their fair treatment. In that challenge, more and more workers would turn to labor unions to help their cause. As Confucius says, “a twig can be broken, however, a pile of twigs cannot.” Laborers would endure violence, cruelty and bitter defeats. Consequently, this suffering ensured them that in time, their cause will be fully worth.