Industrial Revolution: Labor Exploitation In The States

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The American Industrial Revolution (1880-1920) provided some Americans economic wealth and social power. With the rise of big businesses (steel, oil, railroads, etc.) and industrial giants, however, many issues arose as well such as political corruption in the political machines and labor exploitation in the new companies. A broader gap among the wealthy and the poor, due to the system of monopolies and trusts (which gave too much power to only certain companies who could acquire it), was established and consequently, a separate educated middle class originated. Dilemmas with sexism and racial prejudice tampered with the opportunities available to some Americans during the industrialization period which became a major flaw during this time. …show more content…
Even though many states passed these laws, they could not be fully enforced by the government and, therefore, were not much help. Throughout the early 1900s, business owners challenged the labor laws through court proceedings. Some cases, such as the Lochner v. New York case of 1905, ended with the Supreme Court siding with the business owners because it was “a violation of the freedom of contract ( freedom to negotiate the terms of their employment) and the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits the states from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of the law” (Boyler & Stuckey, 2003, p. 283). Later on in 1908 however, the Muller v. Oregon case managed to provide sufficient evidence, although it was not considered to be concrete by the court, to keep the labor laws in Oregon and raise awareness of the stresses placed upon the workers. This case also served as the template to other cases that followed (Boyler & Stuckey, 2003, p. 283). The points the business owners brought up caused a tremendous problem in the battle for labor rights that caused serious delays for progressives and as a result, did not provide the results that numerous people expected from it. In the end, the attempts of the progressive era to obtain better labor conditions were only partially addressed and working conditions …show more content…
Many reforms were made in a pursuit to curb the power of political machines as muckrakers operated to expose the vast extent of the corruption to the public, yet many people remained dubious about the prospects a mostly democratic government would bring. Some of these reforms included direct primary (a system where voters got to elect their candidates in a general election), the Seventeenth Amendment (voters electing their senators directly), and the initiative, the referendum, and the recall system (Boyler & Stuckey, 2003, p. 298-299). This system gave the voters a generous amount of power to take someone out of office if they desired, however, it depended on the circumstances and proceeds through a more complicated process. Reform mayors were put in office in an attempt of the progressives to reform the city governments (Boyler & Stuckey, 2003, p. 300). However, many of these reforms ended up with mixed results since the way the candidates were chosen was still greatly influenced by business matters and they disseminated new fears in the people due to the uncertainty and unpredictable ways a democratic government usually brings (Boyler & Stuckey, 2003, p. 302). The reforms failed to provide the people the security that they were, in fact, made to aid them and, as a result, many Americans voted against progressive laws meant to improve their lives. Therefore, despite the

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