AP U.S History
Chapter #18 Essay
February 24th, 2018
The Progressive Era was an important part in the American industrial history. It was a time when people started to stand together to fight for themselves as well as their livelihoods. After the abusive and criminal factories did anything and everything in their power to pay as little as possible for hard work, workers rebelled and started to form unions. But there continued to be an ongoing battle between the workers and bosses until factories had enough. Because of this, the lives of many people were destroyed by the loss of their jobs in an already unstable economy. Frustrated and out of options, people faced their depressing reality. The Progressive Era was a time of unstable economy and fighting for the rights of workers.
It was a time for people to start a new life and leave a legacy for their future generations. People from all over the world, traveled and moved into America because of the job opportunities that became available. Although the only job they could get was at various factories. These big city factories were known for their lack of safety and care for the workers. The only thing that was important for the factories, was the amount of profit they had. “When a fire broke out… those who tried to escape the blaze discovered that the doors to the stairwell had been locked-the owners’ way, it was later charged, of discovering theft and unauthorized bathroom breaks.” (677) 1 After constant pain and suffering, the workers banded together to fight for the rights they had. By forming unions (the action or fact of joining or being joined, especially in a political context) the workers thought that they could get everything they demanded. Including better pay, safe working conditions, shorter hours, no child workers, and better treatment, among other things. But things went wrong, causing the factories to fire everyone. To the factories, workers were expendable because of the need for jobs and money during the economic crisis America was going through. The now former factory workers didn’t let being fired stop them. it gave them more of a drive to keep fighting for what was right.
Factories did a lot of wrong to people during this time. They took the needs and desperateness of the people and used it for their own personal gain. Many people were extremely poor and needed to find a way to feed their families, get clothing, buy land/homes, education, etc. This caused them to send their children to get jobs. Factories were the most common place to work and many young children found themselves working at one. These factories tended to be dirty and polluted, which is definitely not healthy for a child or anyone. Along with the sanitation, factories had a problem with unsafe machines, long work days with little to no breaks and cruel superiors who didn’t help anyone besides the company. “jobs were ruled by the company time clock, not the sun and seasons. Every day, not just long summer days, was 12 hours long” 2 The payment was not enough for the never-ending blood, sweat and tears the workers had. Blood, sweat and tears is the perfect way to describe what actually happened in and due to the factories. The blood came from the countless victims of the dangerous machines and faulty equipment. The sweat came from the workers who would work seven days a week for twelve hours without being allowed to take more then two breaks, if that. Finally, the tears came from the heart breaks of people who were killed in the factories, the people who lost their jobs, along with the pain and memories the factories left on people.
Factories had to watch out for themselves first. Everything was unstable, and people feared they would lose all the money they had. Investing in something that was needed and useful was the only way to truly thrive and provide. The owners are just like everyone else, they are human. Factories were a business investment and a person has to do what is right for a company. The most important part of running a factory is being able to keep it going, to not shut down. “Factories were run for profit. Any form of machine safety guard cost money. As a result, there were no safety guards.” 3 They couldn’t afford to take safety precautions. If they did and then they shut down the next day, then they wasted money. Have a factory or any business is a risk. You can easily lose your business faster then it took you to create it. These factory owners were just trying to make sure they were protected.
The Progressive Era was a time of unity but also separation. There was a lot wrong with the way people treated each other but, in the end, it only created stronger bonds and a new confidence many people didn’t know they had. It was a difficult time for everyone. Eat or be eaten. Factory owners faced a decision of taking care of their workers or making the most money they could in a struggling economy. Workers also faced a challenging decision: face unemployment or the dangerous and cruel work environment. The Progressive Era was a time of unstable economy and fighting for the rights of workers.
Sources:Give Me Liberty pg. 677