The Industrial Revolution

Many people would argue that the Industrial Revolution was one of the most important events to have taken place on earth. It laid the first stepping stones on the path to all the technology we love and take for granted today. With the building of railways and telegraph networks and the ability to get and make oil, coal, and steel cheaper and easier, America was becoming a prosperous country. That is, for those who sat at the top. What many people don’t know or realize is that only a small minority of Americans were benefiting from this rapid rise in industrialism. These were the owners of big businesses and monopolies. The workers for said businesses were exploited and used for cheap labor.

With industrialism on the rise, workers were suffering from a litany of health and safety issues. Employers would often cut corners and disregard safety hazards if they believed they would make more money. They would also work their employees for long hours with little to no breaks and unfair pay. “Workers often toiled 12 hours a day, six days a week, for wages that barely covered basic living expenses” (Keene, pg. 485). No one seemed to care about the workers. Even the government turned a blind eye to the big businesses and passed few if any regulations for worker safety. So, to protect themselves, the workers started forming unions.

Unions were formed so that the workers had a voice in their workplace. If they felt that something was unsafe, they now had a group that could express the concern with the employer. If we felt like they were being underpaid, they had a group that could try to reason with the boss. If the employers wouldn’t listen to the union, the union would go on strike. This means that for as long as the union’s requests went unanswered, the members of the union would not work.

The idea of unions being formed was not a thought that employers liked to think about. Many employers despised unions because they no longer had all of the control anymore. If they didn’t meet the workers demands, the union striking would be the best case scenario. Worst case scenario, the union might form a mob and attack the employers or cause damage to the workplace. So a balance had to be kept between the employer and the union.

Work Cited:

Keene, Jennifer, Cornell, Saul, and O’Donnell, Edward Revel Visions of America: A History of the United States, Volume 2, 3E.

9 thoughts on “The Industrial Revolution

  1. You are absolutely correct many people take for granted the technologies we have today. There are tons of memes that show even 20 years ago before cell phones and video games that kids had to find things to do, like playing tag. I’m not sure I would have wanted to grow up during the time of the industrial revolution, but I am thankful for the technologies advances since. The big companies back then did tend to monopolize the industries. They did shady things to buy out their competitors, and were able to charge any prices they wanted. It didn’t appear like the unions had as much power when they were first starting as they did in the later 1900’s. Even though some people do not like the government having control, the things that have been done such as standard 8 hr work days and health and safety regulations were positives.

    1. It is true our technology has made life so much easier for us in the modern day. However the drawback from that is now we depend for on technology’s than our own skills. There are now machines to do the simplest of tasks that we could do just as easy. Though I’m not complaining technology makes life easy for us all, but it makes me wonder when the need for human involvement in the labor force will end.

  2. It was certainly a terrible time to be working in factories or maybe even in general. It’s hard to think that people were paid so little and worked such long hours and so many days a week. This was made even worse by the fact that the work conditions were so dangerous. I think people take for granted our modern work conditions. I am sure nowadays people would work one of these shifts and quit instantly, it was simply an inhumane way to treat people.

  3. The Industrial Revolution was definitely of great importance to us and our history. This time period helped shape the United States into who we are and where we stand nowadays. Although during this time, many people were suffering in the work place from things such as low pay, long hours, and safety hazards, by forming the unions it helped to change the work place and conditions and get us where we are today. If this hadn’t happened, we may still be suffering from a lot of these harsh conditions in the workplace today. The people that were able to witness and work in these harsh conditions, and note that this is not a way that people should be treated, are very valuable to us in the modern day. Conditions in industries and work places have been greatly approved since this time and allow for workers to feel much safer and at greater ease.

    However, you are definitely right about how we take these technologies and liberties for granted. Today, if anyone were working in an industry like those ones, they would have no problem quitting or fighting back. Most of us though, are granted with many benefits from our jobs such as good pay, vacation time, sick leave, and more, but we don’t even think much about it. In fact, many people actually complain, saying that they need more vacation time, higher pay, etc. Although this is very understandable (because who wouldn’t want more money and more vacation) we have to take into consideration those who were never given any of this, and barley given human rights at that. Industries have definitely come along way since the Industrial era.

  4. You have a great and clear stand point! People didn’t understand what a lot of Americans had to go through before this revolution. Being taken advantage of is to put it lightly. Unions did a lot of good for people and our work environments. Could you imagine getting injured on the job and not being able to reap any benefits and not being able to support yourself and family? You had to die in order to make somewhat of a living. You have great valid points and information, especially with how much we take for granted in this millennial age. Unions made working more humanizing. We are people, not machines.

  5. I liked when you said, “Workers often toiled 12 hours a day, six days a week, for wages that barely covered basic living expenses”. I had relatable ideas in my post, it is terrible that so little people cared about workers well beings. They would work them long hours with little or no breaks, on top of how bad the actual working conditions were. No one seemed to care about the workers. It was sad that the government too did not help when the big businessmen would do that to their innocent workers.

  6. It is really crazy how the employers back then treated their workers and the work place just to make extra money. They did not care about any of their employees health, especially the hundreds of children who would work near machines with little to no protection. Employees working in the unsafe work place for 12 hours with little pay was not a good and fair way for employers to make money at all. Unions proved to be the best thing for workers who are in the workforce today.

  7. The industrial workers lives were horrendous. They were deprived of the luxury that life provides. They had limited family time, worn down bodies, and were granted minimal joy. They slaved through their days on the job just for that head honcho to reel in all the benefits. The creation of the union changed things tremendously as you said. The people’s deprivation was decreased, and with it rose their standard of living. The creation of the union was the first step into Americans lives prospering as it is today.

  8. The industrial age was a very important part in American history. The things that people went through to improve America was hard to imagine especially living in 2019.

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