Frustrated Workers and Stubborn Elites

Topics: August Spies, Samuel Fielden, Trade union Pages: 4 (1429 words) Published: March 18, 2014

In the United States during the late 1800’s many industrial workers, both foreign and domestic, banned together to stand against wealthy elites to obtain better compensation for their strenuous work. In this time of rising conflict, many labor unions attempted to speak out and demand better reward. Many big name companies owned by rich businessmen were mistreating their workers and eventually groups like the “Knights of Labor”, “The Workingmen’s Party of Illinois” and “The Lehr and Wehr Verein” were assembled to unify the workers allowing them to resist oppression. Many of these big name companies dealt with the major manufacturing of goods such as lumber and steel, while many others were more focused on the construction of the railroads that transported these goods or the press that advertised them. Because businesses were privately owned and singularly managed, there was little to no government attempt at setting up guidelines on how business owners should administer their employees. Taking advantage of the lack of governmental regulations, these businessmen were able to obtain massive amounts of money and power and leave their workers overworked and underpaid. Throughout the late 1800s, the growing tension between workers and their employers became increasingly apparent. As more and more people in Chicago agreed that they were being taken advantage of, it was expected that soon something would be done about it. On page 73 of Green’s Death in the Haymarket, he explains, “Everyone in Chicago knew that it would only take on bolt of lightning to set off a thunderstorm of protests…”1 This proved to be true as many Chicago socialists and anarchists grouped together and appointed Albert Parsons to compete for city council. While running for city counsil, he was able to meet people of similar interests such as August Spies. With leading men like Parsons and Spies, the workers imagined an optimistic outcome. Labor unions...
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