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Industrial Revolution

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So many things changed with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. The revolution came about as a product of the Transportation Revolution, which made the movement of goods easier and substantially cheaper. The market for manufactured products, especially textiles, greatly expanded. Hard workers were needed to produce these goods. Industry soon greatly expanded and new cities and towns sprung up to accommodate people at the newly opened factories and mines. However, while the growing industry in the United States greatly benefited the country, it did not necessarily better the lives of the individuals who were behind it. Due to the fact that laborers were forced to live in crowded and deteriorating housing and work in horrible conditions with little independence many people banded together to enact reforms to improve working conditions.

First of all, the living conditions many laborers endured were horrendous. The way piano manufacturer William Steinway describes the tenement housing system truly paints a disturbing picture. "The average workingman's family has one room in which they cook, wash, iron, and live, and one or two, or possibly three, bed rooms, of which generally one or two are dark rooms, without any windows, or without admitting God's pure air" (Firsthand, 67). Steinway was an immigrant from Germany who rose from working as an apprentice to becoming an industrialist. He was a witness at the Senate Committee on the Relations between Labor and Capital of 1883, which was organized in response to the rising number of industrial workers and their frequent strikes, and also because of the growing friction between management and labor due to firms growing larger. Steinway also said, in regards to the housing situation, "Ð'...I consider one of the greatest evils under which workingmen live, especially in the city of New York, is the horrors of the tenement houses-the terrible rents that they have to pay" (Firsthand, 67). The committee collected testimony from many types of witness: reformers, union leaders, workers, and clergymen, but having Steinway, a noted and wealthy industrialist, speak of the horrors of lower class housing really opened up many people's eyes. He called attention to a situation that many workers had attempted to call attention to for years. Now, with even the wealthy complaining about the situation, the government had to address the issues at hand.

In regards to the conditions of the factories, mill and mines during this time, Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle", offers a glimpse into the miseries of the workers of a Chicago packing-house. "Let a man so much as scrape his finger pushing a truck in the pickle rooms, and he might have a sore that would put him out of the world; all the joints in his fingers might be eaten by the acid, one by one" (Firsthand, 127). When describing the work of the butchers, Sinclair wrote, "The hands of these men would be criss-crossed with cuts, until you could no longer pretend to count or trace them. They would have no nails, -they had worn them off pulling hides; their knuckles were so swollen they spread out like a fan" (Firsthand, 127). Sinclair also wrote about the unsanitary practices of such slaughter-houses, and this really seemed to hit home. By exposing these evils of industry, Sinclair caught the attention of the nation and later President Theodore Roosevelt. After reading Ð''The Jungle', many were appalled and disgusted. Roosevelt felt the need to persuade Congress to enact the first national meat inspection and pure food and drug laws. So, by disgusting the nation with his accounts of a Chicago packing-house, Sinclair influenced the government to reform many aspects of industry.

Another problem facing workers during this time period was the loss of independence on the job. Prior to the rapid growth in industry, many Americans were self-employed and even worked side by side with their employers. Yet, later years proved that a drastic change had taken place. "By 1900, however, about two-thirds of the labor force consisted of wage earners rather than self-employed people, and conditions between management

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