American History (Manufacturing during the pre-Civil War)

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“A Marble Monument to Cruelty” by Ray Sprigle is about the lives of Negroes in Georgia told firsthand by a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter. He immersed himself in the Black community and learned the truth behind racial discrimination…


American History (Manufacturing during the pre-Civil War)

. Manufacturing during the pre-Civil War era was dominated by self-employed, owner-operator producers like a series of locally-centered “island economies” which was almost self-sufficient. Goods were either hand-produced or traded from local artisans such as blacksmiths, millers, tanners or shoemakers. Owners controlled the pace and rhythm of work and were bound only by their own level of energy and by local custom. They also controlled the price of their products supported by local custom. However, with the advent of the government-sponsored railroad building the island economies of small-town America were connected to the national marketplace. The national marketplace was a contrast to the island economies in many ways. Big industrial owners gained power over manufacturing. Machines replaced manual labor and goods produced by these industrialists were cheaper and more readily available. Resistance began to build up and produced labor unions to regain a portion of their lost power and control. The two major organizing models were “industrial unions” and “trade unions.” Trade unions were more exclusive of a certain group of types of workers while industrial unions disallowed discrimination. The American Federation of Labor (1886-) was a trade union that avoided politics and focused narrowly and pragmatically on only three issues: higher wages, safer conditions and shorter hours. The Knights of Labor (1869-1890s) was an industrial union that sought a “cooperative commonwealth” where corporations would be owned by the workers themselves. ...
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