2.14 – The Gilded Age, Unions, and Populists (1st half of class)

In the first section of class, I will lecture on the Gilded Age, income inequality, and corruption in American politics and economic life. In the second section, we will discuss your outside-of-class readings on the rise of Labor Unions and the Populists and consider the ways that wealthy capitalists sought to defeat reform efforts.

Readings

“The Struggle of Labor”
Carnegie and Homestead (video) or Homestead Strike
History Matters, Broken Spirits: Letters from the Pullman Strike
Zinn Project, “Ludlow Massacre”
Andrew Johnson, Robber Barons and Social Control
Populism and Agrarian Discontent
Mental Floss (not a scholarly publication, but their research is usually reliable, and the general import of the article is correct), “11 Outlandish ways aristocrats displayed their wealth in the Gilded Age)”

These readings are simply an introduction to these topics. If you are particularly fascinated by the history of labor unions, welathy capitalists, populists, or other topics of today’s discussion, I highly encourage you to do additional research and share your work in class discussion.

Discussion questions

[1] In your view, what is the most noteworthy example of “conspicuous consumption” by wealthy Americans in the late 19th century?

[2] What were conditions like for factory workers in the United States in the late 19th century?

[3] For those factory workers who sought to improve their conditions, what reforms did they promote and what strategies did they use to attempt to achieve those goals?

[4] Identify three major Labor Unions from the late 19th century and early 20th century.

[5] What strategies did capitalists use to combat Unions?

[6] Identify three major examples of violent clashes between Labor Unions and capitalists.

Section II

[6] What were conditions like for farmers in the United States in the late 19th century?

[7] For those farmers who sought to improve their conditions, what reforms did they promote and what strategies did they use to attempt to achieve those goals? 

[8] How much political success did Populists (and sympathetic Democrats such as William Jennings Bryan) have?

[9] What strategies did wealthy capitalists use to attempt to defeat reform efforts by Unions and Populists?

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s