Capitalists and Workers during the Gilded Age

Updated November 23, 2021

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Capitalists and Workers during the Gilded Age essay

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The Gilded Age from the 1870 to 1900, a time period where industrialization took over the United States. At the beginning of the 20th century, there was big economic growth, meaning new changes were bound to happen. These changes affected many, but especially both the capitalists and the laborers. The primary sources in Chapter 16 reveal how much power capital had over labor, not only in terms of them being so wealthy, but the extreme measures they took to be on top, such as the working conditions, corporate dominance in politics, and unregulated market place.

The rapid growth of industrialization brought in new job opportunities, however these jobs brought anything, but the opportunity to prosper. Workers had long hours, low wages, and poor working conditions. As seen on the Omaha Platform, they presented other resolutions, such as “shorting the hours of labor, and demand a rigid enforcement of the existing eight-hour law…” (Omaha Platform). Workers worked a 10-hour shift or more, and six days a week, and the wages that were earned were barely enough to make a living for themselves and their family. Long hours meant the majority of their time was spent at the factories surrounded by poor working conditions. This caused many of them to get injured on the job due to the heavy and dangerous machinery.

Workers were considered to be easily replaceable, so if they were injured on the job, they were replaced quickly by someone else. As demonstrated by the political cartoon “The Tournament of Today”, we can see what these particular issues do to a man in the labor force. The man in the cartoon is a representation of poverty as the donkey has written on its poverty, the man has no shoes and his clothes are ripped. On the other hand, we see a knight looking very wealthy from head to toe, this cartoon represents the major gap in wealth between the capitalists and the workers.

Someone who would not be concerned with labor practices would be Andrew Carnegie as stated in the Gospel of Wealth, “The contrast between the palace of the millionaire and the cottage of the laborer with us todays measures the change which has come with civilization.” His mindset was that this change was a good thing, it shows that the nation as a whole is moving forward. During the Gilded Age corporations had complete dominance in politics. This time period represented a time in which the government basically had no interference, and if they did it was just to support them.

The Republican Party was the face of American politics during this period. They helped business such as the railroad by giving them millions of acres and dollars to help them grow. The Omaha Platform pointed out the many corruptions of the government, such as “Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislature, the Congress and touches even the ermine of the bench.” They advocated for a change in the government for them to step in and be the voice of all of the people. They essentially wanted freedom, since many people felt they had none.

The government played an essential role in the injustices going on throughout this period, “we charge that the controlling influences dominating both these parties have permitted the existing dreadful conditions to develop without serious effort to prevent or restrain them.” (Omaha Platform) On the other hand, Andrew Carnegie, an American industrialist advocated on the Gospel of Wealth that the laws should be left alone, no changes should be made. If corporations, didn’t have the political system on their side than things would have been different for everyone.

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Capitalists and Workers during the Gilded Age. (2021, Nov 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/capitalists-and-workers-during-the-gilded-age/


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