Journal Postings

Group A

01/24/02 (The Missing Peace)

Lisa Bard

The one thing in the chapter “Workers in the United States” that I found to be somewhat disturbing is that the government sided with the side of the businesses in a lot of the conflicts between workers and employers. In the book it mentions a number of strikes that were handled in violence and some of the time it was the government that administer the violence. For example, the Ludlow mine strike of 1914, the government killed 13 women and children.

I found this strike in particular very interesting, and I looked it up at http://www.radio4all.org/anarchy/ludlow.html only to find out that there was a lot more to it. I was appalled by the actions of the government after the miners on strike sought to the National Guard soldiers that were placed around there camp in what the strikers thought was to help them. And the fact that there is no mention to this in the history books, makes me upset because you learn about Rockefeller’s fame and triumphs, rather is acts of violence against his own employees. This violence was only attacked by more violence by the miners.

I know in my previous I preached about the need for war, this incident was not war, and I am very disturbed my this violence, and the way that the government handled the situation.

 

Ewa Budzynska

The three groups of people that chapters 7 & 8 focus on, had to struggle against injustice and prejudice; blacks, workmen, and women, all had to defend their rights in the country founded on noble principles. They have achieved a lot in terms of the improvement of their situation. However, a question I was asking myself was: to what extent can bad things be changed by a law or a constitutinal amendment, and how long does it take to change mentality and deeply rooted stereotypes? How many people still believe that blacks are inferior? that women's voice shouldn't count? that physical workers have a lower status than white-collar workers? 

As for chapter 7, I was disturbed while reading about child labor in textile mills and mines. It was so cruel and unreasonable! It is hard to imagine what family life looked like for working people, who could hardly satisfy their basic needs. I don't think it was easy for any of them to climb the social ladder, despite the fact that the U.S was a democratic country, praised as the "alma mater" for those who seek freedom and shelter. Fortunately, there were people wise and brave enough to oppose the unfair system; a brilliant example is Mary Harris Jones and her attempts to end child labor (eg. joining 10,000 children on strike).

Another attitude, which seems worth praising is, that of some factory owners, such as Samuel M. Jones (Ohio) or Nelson O. Nelson. They challenged the prevailing standards for working conditions and transformed their workers' environment, so as to make it more friendly and just.

In the summarizing section of chpt.7, the authors say that " inequality in the distribution of wealth contributes to violence and instability..."(153), and furthermore, that capitalism is to be blamed for this inequality. Unfortunately, communism, though based on ideas of equality, has not proven to work any better in practice.

As for chapter 8, I was particularly interested with current data concerning domestic abuse; I did not realize that it was such a grave problem in America. The statistics only tell about cases when men beat or abuse women, not the other way round (that reminds me of the question raised by Angel in one of our previous classes, as to whether violence was "reserved" for males?). Apparently, violent husbands, or even boyfriends, use physical force to prove their manhood. For me, this idea of manhood is absurd.

I enclose two short web sites, relating to women during World War II:

http://www.nara.gov./exhall/powers/women.html 

http://www.lib.noaa.gov/edocs/women/women2.jpg

They show some posters encouraging women to work in factories.

 

 R. Eric Burdette 

I found chapter seven of The Missing Peace to be of particular interest to me.  I see myself as somewhat of a Marxist and this particular chapter was right down my line.

One of the more interesting subjects of the chapter was the subject of the very radical labor union the Most Holy Order of the Knights of Labor.  I had never heard of this particular labor party ever, and reading about its radical stances was very interesting.  I still find it very hard to believe that there was such a strong, radically socialist labor party in the 1880’s, envisioning government being restored to the people and the elimination of poverty.  These ideals are very left wing, even by today’s standards.  The book states that in 1885 the Most Holy Order of the Knights of Labor had 750,000 members, a very vast number for the time.  In seeing this labor union written about, I always wonder, “Why isn’t there a radical labor union present in American society today?”  I guess towards the end of chapter seven the book explains how socialist organizations opposed American involvement in the First World War, and were in turn outlawed by the government.  Also, the fact of the communist scare beginning after World War One lead to the overall demise of relatively powerful socialist movements/parties.

In discussing the First World War and socialism, I am lead to the person of Eugene Debs.  I had heard the name before, but never really heard what he did.  The book mentions some of the things that he did very briefly, but what is mentioned is very interesting.  I especially liked his quotes, such as “I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth; I am a citizen of the world.”  I see this as simply a supreme statement of solidarity with all peoples.  I wonder how Debs would react to the present state of undeclared war and killing of innocents.

http://www.eugenevdebs.com/

 

Jamie Burke

In the 1800’s and early 1900’s things were pretty bad in the US for many people.  Working conditions during the Industrial Revolution were horrible.  The days were long.  The pay was low.  The management systems were tyrannical and harsh.  The government ignored the workers pleas for a welfare system.  Yet they set up pension plans for veterans.  Women and blacks still had few rights.  The situations have changed but the issues have not.  Capitalism produces inequality.  The US has the freest economy of all industrialized nations, yet we have the most economic inequality.  How is that right?  Shouldn’t our nation be able to come up with a way that keeps people from being at one end of the spectrum or the other?  There is no middle ground.

Chapter 8 dealt with an issue that is very important to me.  Gender inequality is such a large issue in society.  Yet no one wants to recognize it as a problem.  The fact that gender is defined as “socially constructed differences between males and females”, yet no one in society feels that gender is a big issue.  Gender affects every aspect of life.  It affects who gets jobs, who gets promotions.  It affects who gets airtime on television.  It affects all levels of life.  In high school, gender affected how well my sports teams played.  The boys teams got most of the money for new uniforms every year, while the girls teams had the same uniforms for several years.  The boys baseball team had a perfectly groomed ball field, that nobody was allowed to set foot on if you weren’t on the team.  Meanwhile the fastpitch team had to play on the middle school kick ball field.  I am bringing this up because guys always think that there is not a problem.  Of course they would think that.  The problem doesn’t affect them.  I am sick of being treated like I am not equal.

The website I chose is one that incorporates both gender inequality and the Revolution in one.  The website is called Unheard Voices.  It is about the types of work that women did during the Revolution.  It talks about how some women left their homes and moved to live in factory boarding houses to work.  If women were so useless, then why were they such an important force during the Revolution?  Without the women, some of the factories would not have been able to function.  There are links to things like outwork-what women did that wasn’t considered factory work.         

http://www.library.hbs.edu/hc/unheard_voices/collections/work/ Site with large collection of “unheard voices”—primary documents from women, working people, others whose lives are often left out of history.

Matthew Chiles

The first part of the reading we had was on the rights of workers in the United States of America.  By the reading I feel that we have come a long way in the rights that workers have today compared to what people had back in the time frame between the Civil War and the First World War.  I agree with the start of the chapter about how the industrial revolution started an economic growth that gave workers a problem with their rights that they have in their environment.  I feel that the hours and the conditions that the workers worked in where harsh, and long.  They worked twelve hours a day for six or seven days a week.  That is extreme because today the average person works a forty-hour week.  The conditions that the workers went through were harsh and I’m glad that I do not have to go through what they went through at their place of work.

In the second part of the reading in chapter eight it is about what gender has more opportunities in life.  I feel that this topic on the opportunities for men in women are not equal because men have more rights than women do in our society.  There is a lot of this that men can only do but there are also a lot of things that women can do that men can’t.  In a way it is kind of close to the equalization of each of them but males do have a better opportunity to advance in life.

The web site that I found was on the first comprehensive cultural history of North America's largest and most inclusive labor organization of the nineteenth century.   It was the only nineteenth-century labor organization to make an effort to organize African Americans, women, and unskilled workers on an equal basis with white craftsmen.

http://www.takver.com/history/secsoc02.htm

 

Tony Cleveland

It is really hard to imagine that working conditions were ever as bad as they were.  Today so much emphasis is placed on safety and equality that it shows just how much difference a hundred years makes.  The fact that children were used as cheap labor is not new information.  It's just that today we could never imagine anyone, especially children, in those working conditions. I think that many people don't realize how poorly we used to treat child labor when they are criticizing the working conditions of other countries.   Also the fact that children were not paid more sticks out to me.  They were called an "asset" and any asset to a company today is going to make more than the other employees.  Since they were children they were just used and then replaced as needed. 

This quote in the book stuck to me.  "Anyone stuck permanently in a wage earning position, lacking property and security for old age, was not a free person."  I think that quote can still be applied in some cases today.   Replace the word property with education and many people today still are not entirely free.   They all have the same rights, but the level of education impacts one's job, that impacts how much one earns, and that influences the way one's life is lived. Those who lack adequate education get the joy of working the jobs no one ever dreams of working.    Also, they will likely work until they are older than those who are well educated, which makes them more of a slave to their wage earning position. 

My website, http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/jones/MotherJones.html, is one of many websites about Mary Harris Jones.  It gives a little more information than a few of the other sites I came across.  This site asks and tries to answer the question Who Was "Mother Jones?"  It gives some background information about her, like when she may have came to the states and when she was arrested, and describes her as a union organizer and other things. It tells briefly about some of her accomplishment and provides links to other sites that do the same.   

 

Kyle Cutnaw

Here is my website dealing with the reading for Jan 24, 2002: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Jupton.htm

After reading chapter 7 on capitalism and workers in the industrial revolution, the first thing that came to mind was the book The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. This link that I chose tells some background information about Upton Sinclair, along with some of the effects The Jungle had on American history.

Chapter 7 contains a lot of shocking information in it, however, I was not shocked when I read about it. I have taken business classes and I have learned a little about the history of our economy, and the industrial revolution. I knew about the poor working environments, the involvement of young children in factories, how technology was so primitive at the time, and all of the constant strikes and battles for equality. Rather, I am more amazed about how far we have come as a society. Looking back now at some of the labor conditions that workers suffered through, the long hours they worked, and the poor wages they received seems almost unheard of. I have become so comfortable now in our society that I take my current situation for granted. When I read this chapter, I felt really lucky to be alive now, and not at the time of the industrial revolution. Don't get me wrong, I feel pity for the workers of the time, but I am forever thankful for the advancements that have been made.

I find it interesting how all of these factors, combined with others,  mold our country into what it is today. Without these advancements or policies, we would not have the sophisticated society that we do today. In the end, that is what history is all about; the moments, conditions, and circumstances that mold our world into its current state.

   

Back to top

Journal Postings home page         Group A Journals Page       LAS 301-01 home page

  2002 Issues In Modern America

Bluffton College

Questions?  Comments?  Email me