The Granger Movement In The Gilded Age

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The Gilded Age was a period in American History in which big business emerged, causing tension between the working class and owners of companies. This was all possible only by the occurrence of the Industrial Revolution in America. The institution of factories in the U.S. allowed for mass production, which hurt many small businesses and independent artisans and encouraged a system of wealthy business owners and impoverished unskilled workers. This stratification eventually reached its peak in the Gilded Age, with less than favorable conditions among the working class causing unrest between the aforementioned groups. This, in turn, led to reform movements among the working class people to improve their lives in the face of larger powers oppressing …show more content…
One of these groups was the Granger movement, an organization of farmers who sought to challenge railroad monopolies present at the time, as they imposed high shipping rates that hurt farmers. They succeeded in passing Granger Laws, which helped achieve these goals. The success of this group was widely praised among working class people, as depicted in the picture “Gift for the Grangers (Doc 1).” The painting serves the purpose of glorifying the Granger and exulting their accomplishments, depicting an average Granger as a strong, independent farmer who has accomplished much. The Granger Laws were a major success for farmers as a working class people, as these laws were upheld throughout the Gilded Age and made the Granger Movement a heroic pioneer reform movement during the time period. Later on in the Gilded Age came the Populist Party, or People’s Party. They were a group of reforming, working-class people who advocated for such causes as the end of national banks, the deprivatization of railroads, silver coinage, and a graduated income tax, as bolstered by the “National People’s Party Platform” (Doc 4). The opinions of working-class people, their platform was crafted to discourage many abuses of America’s economy and political system by big business at a time when political machines run by the wealthy elite were rampant in the U.S. Corrupt political machines had …show more content…
The ideas of many unions at the time, such as the American Federation of Labor, included mostly concepts of better working conditions, especially in areas of higher wages, better worker safety, and a shorter workday of eight hours. Such a sentiment is evidenced by I. G. Blanchard’s poem, “The Eight Hour Day,” which was published in the Boston Daily Voice, a journal aimed at the working class. It calls out to big businesses on behalf of all workers to demand shorter working hours (Doc 2). This very clearly shows the empowerment of workers and the things of businesses to give them more rights as laborers. However, not all protests came in the form of peaceful literature. Another tactic used by labor unions to attempt to improve working conditions came in the form of striking. These strikes often became violent and impeded labor unions, such as the Haymarket Square Riot. This is evidenced by the painting appearing in Harper’s Weekly, which shows a skewed interpretation of the event as perceived by the general public, depicting the rioters as acting in an extremely immoral manner, attacking the police and causing chaos (Doc 3). Although labor unions were only loosely connected with the incident, the event was painted as an evil act by out-of-control worker’s unions, setting

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