Effect of Second Industrial Revolution
Effectof Second Industrial Revolution
Industrialrevolution marked a significant change in the global economy byreducing the countries’ reliance on agriculture. The revolutiontook place in two phases, where the first one occurred between 1760and 1840 (Engelman 1). The Second phase of the industrial revolutiontook place between 1870 and 1914. It refers to a period of rapidtechnological revolution. The technological development made in thisperiod facilitated an increase in industrial production in order tomeet the demand for manufactured goods. Some of the key examples oftechnological advancements that were made during the secondindustrial revolution include automated signals, knuckle couplers forrailroads, elevators, motion pictures, electric generators, andhousehold items, such as refrigerators (Engelman 1). This paper willfocus on the effect of the second industrial revolution on farmersand workers and their respective responses. Farmers used the beststrategies that were peaceful and diplomatic in nature (including theestablishment of cooperative movements, advocacy, and formation ofpolitical parties), compared to workers who chose violent andineffective techniques, such as riots and strikes to addresschallenges associated with the second industrial revolution.
Effectof Industrial Revolution on Workers
Theindustrial revolution brought a lot of changes in the labor sector.It was associated with four major negative effects on workers. Thefirst two effects that went hand in hand include lower wages and anincrease in the working hours. Under normal circumstances, it wouldbe expected that an increase in the level of efficiency, workinghours, and economic growth could lead to better wages. However, thiswas not the case in the nineteenth century. Wages varied depending onthe type of job and the employer. One study has shown that an averageAmerican made $ 483 per year in 1900, which was about $ 1.55 a day(Lutz 1). Children could earn as low as 48 cents per day (Lutz 1).However, immigrants were willing to take lower wages than the whiteAmericans. Apart from the issue of capitalism, which created thedesire among investors to make more profits by oppressing workers,the increase in the rate of immigration and urbanization provided asurplus labor force. Based on the market forces of demand and supply,the wages had to reduce.
Aboutfive million Americans were employed in the factories by the year1880, but most of the companies increased the number of working daysfrom five to six in order to meet the demand for manufactured goods(Lutz 1). Factory employees had to work, even on Saturdays andwithout any paid holiday in the entire year. The least number ofworking hours per day was 10, but 40 % of the factory employeesworked for more than this minimum duration.
Apartfrom the low wages and long working hours, conditions under whichemployees worked were dangerous and unbearable. The main focus of theemployers was profit making, which limited their motivation toenhance the working conditions. People who were employed in factoriesworked with the machines that they had little knowledge about. Theywere also not provided with protective devices that could keep theirbodies safe from machines and chemicals. These employees weresubjected to the risk of suffering from different diseases and death.It is estimated that about 35,000 workers died while one millionsustained serious injuries in 1900 as a result of work-relatedfacilities (Weber State University 1). Some employers forced theiremployees to work in enclosed buildings, where they were kept withthe byproducts of the production of processes. This made factoryaccidents a common phenomenon. For example, the Triangle ShirtwaistFactory incident, which took place in March 25, 1911, was caused byfire that caught fabric scraps that were stored carelessly within thepremises (Sigal 22). It resulted in the death of about 146 employees,where half of them were teenagers who had been subjected to childlabor (Sigal 22).
Theuse of machines that produce finished products limited theinvolvement of employees, which made them feel alienated. Theperception of workers’ alienation came from two sources. First, theemployees were required to feed machines with raw materials, whichmean that they had a limited control over the production process(Lutz 1). Secondly, a majority of employees had a limited knowledgeand skills about the new machines. These employees were rarelyengaged by employers in making decisions regarding the productionprocesses.
Workers`Response to Changes Brought About By the Industrial Revolution
Althoughworkers needed jobs in order to earn a living, they understood thatthere were different strategies that they could use to push theestablishment of better working conditions. One of these methods wasindustrial strike. There were many strikes organized during theperiod of the second revolution, but four of them made a significantimpact in the labor market. The first one was referred to as theGreat Upheaval and it involved a strike that was organized by peoplewho were employed to construct the railroad in West Virginia. Thestrike lasted for about 45 days, where 100 people were killed byfederal troops and local militias (Andrews 23). The strike occurredwhen the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad cut wages for its workers for athird time within the same year. The purpose of this strike was topush for an increase in wages.
Thesecond riot was named the Hymarket Affair and it was organized in1886 in Chicago. The objective of this strike was to push for areduction of the working hours from ten to eight per day (Andrews23). However, the strike ended as a massacre since about eight peoplewere killed when a bomb was through to the police officers by anunknown person (Andrews 23). About eight activists were convicted,which was a significant setback for the labor movement.
Thethird strike was named as the Homestead Lockout and it was held in1892. The strike involved a conflict between the Carnegie SteelCompany and the Amalgamated Association, which was a labororganization for iron as well as steel workers (Andrews 23). It wasorganized in Pennsylvania, with the objective of keeping the laborunion alive. Workers were defeated, which limited their capacity tounionize.
Thefourth stroke was referred to as Pullman Railroad Strike and it wasorganized in 1894. The strike involved a conflict between theAmerican Railway Union and Pullman Company. It was organized as aresponse to a cut in wages by 28 % (Conlin 477). This companyretrenched some workers and lowered wages in response to challengesthat resulted from the economic panic that took place in 1893 (Conlin477).
Thesecond strategy that workers used to respond to the issue of poorworking conditions is unionization. These workers were guided bythree different philosophies. The first one is the knights of labor,which is considered as the greatest labor organization in thenineteenth century. It emerged as an idealistic secret society in1869, but its members reached over 700,000 during the secondindustrial revolution (Trottman 2). The Knight fought for equal pay,abolition of child labor, political reforms, and an eight-hour day.
Thesecond one is the American Federation of Labor (AFL). This is a laborunion that was founded in 1886. It was started by the loose groupingof craft unions, including the hat makers, mason, and cigar producerunions. Its founders knew that they would have a significant economicas well as the political impact by excluding unskilled laborers(Trottman 2). The leadership of this organization was quiteconservative. It was a practical organization that focused on the useof diplomatic means to address labor relation issues.
IndustrialWorkers of the World (IWW) is a revolutionary organization that wasfounded in 1905. The IWW used tactics that were referred to asrevolutionary industrial unionism, which combined anarchical andsocialist labor movements to fight for the rights of workers(Trottman 3). It brought together general as well as the industrialunionism. The organization was headed by radical leaders, who usedviolent means (such as Wheatland Hop riots) to advocate of the rightsof the members.
Effectsof Industrial Revolution on Farmers in the Late Nineteenth Century
Thesecond industrial revolution had a lot of benefits to the globaleconomy, but it was associated with several challenges, especially inthe agricultural sector. One of the major breakthroughs that therevolution brought to the agricultural sector is the mechanization offarms (Austin Community College 1). The development of more effectivemachines that were used in the farm operations replaced a largepercentage of human labor. Although this was perceived as benefit,mechanization resulted in overproduction of different types of foods.Based on the market forces of demand and supply, the surplus foodproducts resulted in a significant decline in prices. Consequently,farmers had to sell a larger volume of their produce to earn the sameamount of profits as they used to get prior to the second revolution.
Initially,there was a general perception that mechanization of farms couldresult in a significant decline in the cost of production. However,farmers learned that the machines were expensive. It is only thelarge scale farmers who could afford the machines, which mean thatthe small scale ones continued to operate their farms using manuallabor. This increased the initial cost of investing in agriculture(ACC 1). It also reduced returns from this type of investment,especially during the initial years of venturing into farming. Inaddition, an increase in freight rates raised the cost of shippingproducts. This increased the cost of exports and imports, thuslowering the competitiveness of the agricultural products in thelocal as well as foreign markets. Moreover, the railroads chargedhigh prices for weighing the grains and taking them to the elevatorwhere they were stored (Stanford University 1). These prices reducedthe profits that farmers could have earned as a result of thereduction in the cost of operating their farms using machines.
Thehigh interest rate that was charged by financial institutions isanother challenge that farmers faced during the second industrialrevolution. During this period, the manufacturing sector had becomemore profitable than the agriculture sector. Lenders charge interestsdepending on the perceived level of risk. Consequently, banksconsidered the agricultural sector to be riskier than themanufacturing industry. To this end, they rarely gave loans tofarmers. Farmers who were lucky to access the credit facilities didso at extremely high interest rates (ACC 1). This increased the costof operation while reducing the profits earned by farmers. Moreover,the Coinage Act that was enacted in the year 1873 limited the amountof money in the circulation (ACC 1). This legislation increased thevalue as well as the buying power of the U.S. dollar. This wasaccomplished by limiting the currency to gold as opposed to itsalternatives, such as paper or silver. The new monetary policyoppressed the farmers because they had to pay the principles andinterests in terms of golden dollars that were hard to come by.
Farmersfelt the deep sense of alienation when their worth was devaluatedcompared to players in other industries. Most of the farmers wereleft with huge debts at the end of the crop season since thelandowners charged about 60 % of the cash purchase price while banksrequired an annual interest of at least 25 % for any credit facilitythat they gave to their farmers (ACC 1). The high cost of engaging inagricultural projects, coupled with the low prices made farmers feelthat the government policies were not responding to their needs. Thismade the farmers feel a deep sense of alienation since their worthwas significantly devaluated.
Formationof the Farmers Alliance
TheFarmers Alliance was a politically oriented organization that wasestablished with the objective of pressuring the government torespond to issues that affected farmers during the second industrialrevolution. It was established in the 1870s, and it helped farmers’access low interest credit of up to 80 % of the total value of grainsstored in the federal stores (ACC 1). This was a major breakthroughsince farmers were given an opportunity to lower the cost ofproduction by avoiding high interests charged by merchants and banks.
ThePatron Husbandry of 1887
ThePatron Husbandry, also known as the Grange, is an organization thatwas formed by farmers in the late 1880s with the objective of helpingthem to find solutions to their own problems. They intended toeliminate the middlemen in order to increase the price of theirproduce (ACC 1). However, this cooperative movement did not achieveits objectives since the middlemen reacted by refusing farmers tosharecrop the pieces of land that they had. They also refused creditto farmers, which limited their capacity to run their farmingbusinesses. However, cooperative movement tried several regalinterventions. For example, the ruling made in the case of Munnv. Illinoisin held 1877 favored the cooperative movement by allowing the stategovernment to regulate the interests charged by grain warehouses (ACC1). This ruling prevented the warehouse owners from exploitingfarmers. However, this breakthrough was watered down in the case ofWabashV. Illinoisheld in 1886, when the Supreme Court limited the capacity of thestate governments to regulate commerce to their respective boundaries(ACC 1). This resulted in the establishment of the InterstateCommerce Act in the year 1886. However, railway companies continuedto abuse farmers since they took advantage of the difficulty ofestablishing strong laws that could facilitate the regulation ofinterstate businesses.
Theestablishment of the cooperatives empowered farmers by allowing themto have some control over the prices. This was achieved by givingthem a chance to store non-perishable produce and wait for betterprices (ACC 1). The strategy increased their buying as well as theselling power. The cooperating movement gave farmers some credit oraccess to cheap loans using their stored grains as collateralsecurity in order to continue operating their farms as they waitedfor the prices to go up.
Afterrealizing that the cooperative movements could not address allproblems that farmers faced, they decided to establish politicalparties. They established the Populist and the People’s Parties inthe 1890s (ACC 1). The first strategy used by these parties was torequire the government to regulate the currency. They pushed for thereturn of the unlimited coinage of the silver, which could increasethe amount of currency in circulation. They believed that thisstrategy could reduce the scarcity of the dollar, thus enabling thefarmers to pay their loans easily. The second strategy involved aproposal for low-cost public financing. This was an effectivestrategy that allowed farmers to access credit at a lower interestrate from the government. This strategy reduced the cost of farmingsince farmers got an opportunity to avoid the high interest ratescharged by merchants and commercial banks (ACC 1). The third strategyinvolved a push for the public ownership of all railroads. Theparties believed that this strategy could allow the government toregulate the charges made by the railroad companies, thus reducingthe exploitation of farmers (ACC 1). The success of this strategycould reduce the cost of transporting the harvest to the stores andthe market, thus allowing farmers to make more profits.
Farmersadopted the best strategies to address their challenges compared toworkers since they chose the diplomatic alternatives that did notcause death and destruction of property. In most instances, workersadvocated for an increase in wages, improvement in their workingconditions, and a reduction in the working hours by organizing riotsand strikes. Most of these strategies resulted in deaths as well asthe destruction of property, but they did not achieve their goals.Farmers, on the other hand, used peaceful means to resolve theirissues. For example, they started by organizing cooperative movementsthat could allow them to resolve problems on their own. In addition,the establishment of parties (such as the Populist) enabled farmersto address issues (such as currency regulation) that were politicalin nature. Therefore, the strategies adopted by farmers were moreeffective and peaceful.
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