The New Challenges Of American Workers: Resistance And Adaptation (Essay Sample)
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The New Challenges of American Workers: Resistance and Adaptation
The 19th century United States is known to have experienced vast expansion in industrial plants and output. Production moved from home businesses where much of the work was crafted by hand, to machine-aided production in the factories. The Americans embraced technological changes, with machines being used for knitting stockings, cutting and stitching leather. Due to emerging systems of industrial production and a market economy taking root in the North, old systems such as family farming and local craft production were eroded slowly. Later, infrastructures such as roads, canals, railroads were constructed to enhance the movements of goods from place to place. The paper discusses new challenges faced by American workers, and how they responded to these changes. Some of the workers resisted the changes due to poor working conditions while others adapted to these changes for survival.
The working Americans embraced industrial and agricultural changes which led to the economic growth in the United States. Demographic, industrial and cultural changes profoundly affected the nation's political life. By mid-century, factory workers, domestic servants, artisans and slaves were drawn into a market economy where they sold their labor or products. This was as a result of economic growth that led to geographic expansion thus altering the lives of working Americans (Clark & Hewitt 266). During this period, men and women started depending on wages because the idea of self-sufficiency or working independently in the firms was undermined. The native-born American did not concur with the immigrants' contributions of radical theories and practices which resulted in industrial and urban development (Clark & Hewitt 291). In addition, the working Americans resisted the dependent idea. As a way of resisting they attacked the tyranny of their masters and employers. Workers were treated unfairly in the workplace, with less pay for work done. In the early nineteenth century, black women engaged in tedious labor activities such as cooking, washing clothes, and cleaning. For example, James Curry's mother performed hard tasks like milking fourteen cows as well as preparing meals for the slaves (Clark & Hewitt 291). Though field work ended at dusk, slaves worked for long hours.
Manufacturing began in the East with most Easterners seeking occupations to replace reliance on working in the farms. There was plenty of workforce due to the growing urban population and immigrants from Europe. The agrarian opposed the large-scale industry, suggesting the expansion to be at the domestic level (Clark & Hewitt 389). After the eighteenth century, farmers and artisan started working on seasonal manufacturing industries, making wagons and tools for sale. Rural artisan operated shops with assistance from live-in apprentices. Activities such as furniture making, printing, bookmaking, and leatherworking led to increased numbers of urban wage workers in the United States (Clark & Hewitt 340). Cloth and thread production yarn was now done in the factories. For example, in 1990, Samuel Slater, an immigrant with an experience of the English textile industry set up water-powered spinning machines in the U.S(Clark & Hewitt 340). These machines were used to weave the yarn into cloth. In addition, another textile factory system was established in eastern Massachusetts by the Boston merchants.
However, the early industrialization involved different types of economic organization and labor with people from different social backgrounds. An increase in the number of wage earners and the changing work organization was challenging for the republic of property owners (Clark, Hewitt and Noonan 341). For exa...
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