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craft unionism Labor and Unions in America

The Industrial Revolution was dawning in the United States. At Lowell, Massachusetts, the construction of a big cotton mill began in 1821. It was the first of several that would be built there in the next 10 years. The machinery to spin and weave cotton into cloth would be driven by water power. All that the factory owners needed was a dependable supply of labor to tend the machines.

As most jobs in cotton factories required neither great strength nor special skills, the owners thought women could do the work as well as or better than men. In addition, they were more compliant. The New England region was home to many young, single farm girls who might be recruited. But would stern New England farmers allow their daughters to work in factories? The great majority of them would not. They believed that sooner or later factory workers would be exploited and would sink into hopeless poverty. Economic "laws" would force them to work harder and harder for less and less pay.

THE LOWELL EXPERIMENT
How, then, were the factory owners able to recruit farm girls as laborers? They did it by building decent houses in which the girls could live. These houses were supervised by older women who made sure that the girls lived by strict moral standards. The girls were encouraged to go to church, to read, to write and to attend lectures. They saved part of their earnings to help their families at home or to use when they got married.

The young factory workers did not earn high wages; the average pay was about $3.50 a week. But in those times, a half-dozen eggs cost five cents and a whole chicken cost 15 cents. The hours worked in the factories were long. Generally, the girls worked 11 to 13 hours a day, six days a week. But most people in the 1830s worked from dawn until dusk, and farm girls were used to getting up early and working until bedtime at nine o'clock.

The factory owners at Lowell believed that machines would bring progress as well as profit.

Workers and capitalists would both benefit from the wealth created by mass production. For a while, the factory system at Lowell worked very well. The population of the town grew from 200 in 1820 to 30,000 in 1845. But conditions in Lowell's factories had already started to change. Faced with growing competition, factory owners began to decrease wages in order to lower the cost-and the price-of finished products.

They increased the number of machines that each girl had to operate. In addition, they began to overcrowd the houses in which the girls lived. Sometimes eight girls had to share one room.

In 1836, 1,500 factory girls went on strike to protest wage cuts. (The girls called their action a "turn out.") But it was useless. Desperately poor immigrants were beginning to arrive in the United States from Europe. To earn a living, they were willing to accept low wages and poor working conditions. Before long, immigrant women replaced the "Yankee" (American) farm girls.

To many people, it was apparent that justice for wage earners would not come easily. Labor in America faced a long, uphill struggle to win fair treatment. In that struggle, more and more workers would turn to labor unions to help their cause. They would endure violence, cruelty and bitter defeats. But eventually they would achieve a standard of living unknown to workers at any other time in history.

GROWTH OF THE FACTORY
In colonial America, most manufacturing was done by hand in the home. Some was done in workshops attached to the home. As towns grew into cities, the demand for manufactured goods increased. Some workshop owners began hiring helpers to increase production. Relations between the employer and helper were generally harmonious. They worked side by side, had the same interests and held similar political views.

The factory system that began around 1800 brought great changes. The employer no longer worked beside his employees. He became an executive and a merchant who rarely saw his workers. He was concerned less with their welfare than with the cost of their labor. Many workers were angry ... more

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Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, (1882-1945),  32nd  of the United States. Roosevelt became president in March 1933 at the depth of the Great Depression, was reelected for an unprecedented three more terms, and died in office in April 1945, less than a month before the surrender of Germany in World War II. Despite an attack of poliomyelitis, which paralyzed his legs in 1921, he was a charismatic optimist whose confidence helped sustain the American people during the strains of economic crisis and world war.
He was one of America's most controversial leaders. Conservatives claimed that he undermined states' rights and individual liberty. Though Roosevelt labored hard to end the Depression, he had limited success. It was not until 1939 and 1940, with the onset of heavy defense spending before World War II, that prosperity returned. Roosevelt also displayed limitations in his handling of foreign policy. In the 1930's he was slow to warn against the menace of fascism, and during the war he relied too heavily on his charm and personality in the conduct of diplomacy.
Still, Roosevelt's historical reputation is deservedly high. In attacking the Great Depression he did much to develop a partial welfare state in the United States and to make the federal government an agent of social and economic reform. His administration indirectly encouraged the rise of organized labor and greatly invigorated the . His foreign policies, while occasionally devious, were shrewd enough to sustain domestic unity and the allied coalition in World War II. Roosevelt was a president of stature.
The future president was born on Jan. 30, 1882, at the family estate in Hyde Park, N.Y. His father, James (1828-1900), was descended from Nicholas Roosevelt, whose father had emigrated from Holland to New Amsterdam in the 1640's. One of Nicholas' two sons, Johannes, fathered the line that ultimately produced President Theodore Roosevelt. The other son, Jacobus, was James' great-great-grandfather.
James graduated from Union College (1847) and Harvard Law School, married, had a son, and took over his family's extensive holdings in coal and transportation. Despite substantial losses in speculative ventures, he remained wealthy enough to journey by private railroad car, to live graciously on his Hudson River estate at Hyde Park, and to travel extensively.
Four years after his first wife died in 1876, James met and married Sara Delano, a sixth cousin. She, too, was a member of the Hudson River aristocracy. Her father, one of James' business associates, had made and lost fortunes in the China trade before settling with his wife and 11 children on the west bank of the Hudson. Sara had sailed to China as a girl, attended school abroad, and moved in high social circles in London and Paris. Though only half her husband's age of 52 at the time of her marriage in 1880, she settled in happily at Hyde Park. Their marriage was serene until broken by James' death in 1900.
His record at Harvard, which he attended between 1900 and 1904, was only slightly more impressive. Thanks to his excellent preparation at Groton, he was able to complete his course of study for his B.A. in 1903, in only three years. During his fourth year he served as editor of the Crimson, the college newspaper. However, he was not accepted for Porcellian, Harvard's most prestigious social club, and he did not receive much stimulation in the classroom. As at Groton, his grades were mediocre, and he showed no excitement about his studies.
At this point politics gave him a sense of purpose. The Democratic organization in Dutchess county, the area around Hyde Park, needed a candidate for the New York state Senate in 1910. Party leaders recognized that although Roosevelt had no political experience he had assets as a candidate: the wealth to finance a campaign, and the best-known political name in the United States. Roosevelt worked as never before during the campaign. Acquiring a car, he crisscrossed the county in his quest for support. He showed skill at making himself agreeable to voters and a willingness to listen to the advice of political veterans. As at Groton and Harvard, during his political career he proved open and adaptable.  For all these reasons Roosevelt won impressively in the usually Republican district.
Roosevelt made an immediate impact ... more

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  • C: None4 C: None4 none4 LABOR UNION, LAUNCHED IN 1866, AND THE KNIGHTS OF LABOR, WHICH REACHED ITS ZENITH IN THE MID-1880S. ON THEIR FACE, THESE REFORM MOVEMENTS MIGHT HAVE SEEMED AT ODDS WITH TRADE UNIONISM, AIMING AS THEY DID AT THE COOPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH RATHER THAN A HIGHER WAGE, APPEALING BROADLY TO ALL PRODUCERS RATHER THAN STRICTLY TO WAGEWORKERS, AND ESCHEWING THE TRADE UNION RELIANCE ON THE STRIKE AND BOYCOTT. BUT CONTEMPORARIES SAW NO CONTRADICTION: TRADE UNIONISM TENDED TO THE WORKERS\'\' IMMEDIATE...
  • R: Labor and Unions in America R: Labor and Unions in America Labor and Unions in America The Industrial Revolution was dawning in the United States. At Lowell, Massachusetts, the construction of a big cotton mill began in 1821. It was the first of several that would be built there in the next 10 years. The machinery to spin and weave cotton into cloth would be driven by water power. All that the factory owners needed was a dependable supply of labor to tend the machines. As most jobs in cotton factories required neither great strength nor special skills, ...
  • A: Roosevelt A: Roosevelt Roosevelt Franklin Delano Roosevelt, (1882-1945), 32nd of the United States. Roosevelt became president in March 1933 at the depth of the Great Depression, was reelected for an unprecedented three more terms, and died in office in April 1945, less than a month before the surrender of Germany in World War II. Despite an attack of poliomyelitis, which paralyzed his legs in 1921, he was a charismatic optimist whose confidence helped sustain the American people during the strains of economic crisis ...
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  • Labor in America Labor in America Labor in America The Industrial Revolution was dawning in the United States. At Lowell, Massachusetts, the construction of a big cotton mill began in 1821. It was the first of several that would be built there in the next 10 years. The machinery to spin and weave cotton into cloth would be driven by water power. All that the factory owners needed was a dependable supply of labor to tend the machines. As most jobs in cotton factories required neither great strength nor special skills, the owners ...