The History of American Workers

In the history of America, the workers have had some of the most challenging experiences in bargaining for better working conditions and improved living standards. The pointed workers’ plight did not start in present day, but their struggle had a very long history, traced way back during the time of the Industrial Revolution and the Civil War epoch. Though much of the workers’ fight and history have not been put out in the public domain, the working class has had some of the most indelible protests in America marked with violence against factory owners. This particular paper is going to delve into the history of American workers’ plight to discuss some of the very reasons of why such protests started. Similarly, there is a need to establish the motivating factor background for the workers strikes, reaching the level of turning into violence. On the other hand, the paper will look closely at the business owners and how they encountered the protests from their workers. Thus, this paper seeks to establish the harsh economic dispensation in America triggered and formed into the violent strikes by the American workers.

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The battles between the American workers and the business owners go down in the history of the country as one of the civil wars that was marked by violent clashes. There had been various scholars, who made attempts to establish some of the reasons why the situation heightened to the level of violent clashes. One of the prominent historians with particular focus on the social justice and labor issues in America is Howard Zinn. In his book, History is a Weapon, he presents a very in-depth history of the occurrences particularly connected with the battles between the workers and the owners of production factories in America in the 18th century (Zinn).

Zinn asserts that at the centre of the protests and battles there is a call by the workers for better pay for a decent living. On the contrary, the owners wanted to maintain profits from their businesses. Thus, the conflict of interest from the two sides led to the violent clashes. The assertion from the author is well illustrated in what he terms as a war in his book. The formation of the workers’ protests groups was one of how the battles and confrontations between the workers and business owners started. One such movement was the Anti Renter movement that began at Hudson Valley (Zinn). The tenants protested against the system of Patroonship that started way back in the 1600s. During that epoch, the entire New York labor class was under the control of the Dutch that ruled the people, and they paid taxes to the one ruling family of the Dutch. Given the fact that the hard economic times had affected the people, they were frustrated by the turn of events in their economic situation in their region and the entire country; they resorted to seeking for economic freedom that would relieve them of the struggles (Nicholson). However, the efforts did not instantly bear any fruits; the justice system continually frustrated their efforts. Thus, it is evident from the anti-rent protests that the harsh economic dispensation made them demand for better living conditions from the wealthy and business owners by demanding better wages.

In pursuit of the American Dream, the numerous American challenges act as the obstacles making almost impossible for the American worker to achieve the American dream. Primarily, the American Dream refers to the ideal where there are equal opportunities for any American thus allowing being able to make their aspirations and goals in life (Ness). However, a challenge gave the array of issues that workers experienced at their workplaces. First, lack of the political will has far undermined efforts by workers to realize better wages and working conditions in America. Hinn in his book History is a Weapon explicates that presidential election had avoided real issues that were affecting the American workers. Since the politicians enjoyed massive support from their rich and the business owners, it was a challenge for them to address the plight of the workers. Though, such occurrences started way back in the 18th century, the contemporary American worker still grapples with the very same issues making it a huge challenge for them to realize the American Dream in a system where the rich and the business owners are given priority in terms of policy formulation (Douglas).

The capitalistic system in America makes it very difficult for the production factory owners to provide their employees with a decent living wage. The cost of production and the interests of the private manufacturers in maintaining upper-profit margins have continued to hinder the call for increased and better wages for the citizens working for the owners of the businesses.

Numerous approaches can be applied to ensure that American can realize the American Dream and equally make it great again. To “make America great again”, there is a need to have political will, supporting the course of ensuring that all Americans working in the various industries are provided with the better decent living wages. The government needs to check on its trade policies for more investors in the country, hence, creating more job opportunities for the unemployed Americans. With gainful employment, it becomes possible to raise the standards of living and ultimately making an impact in the economy of America (Goldstein). Another critical step that the government can use to make America great again is reducing the taxes on the industries to help them overcome the production cost. With the reduced cost of production, manufacturers will reduce the price of their commodities and ultimately decrease the cost of living. People will have a chance to build and establish their careers, pursue their dreams without many constraints and straining as currently, they are experiencing.

In conclusion, the history of the American workers captures some of the most violent clashes between the workers and the business owners. The essence of the entire battle is a conflict of interests between the employers and the employees. It is also imperative to note that the overall economic hardships influence the battles between the workers and their employees. As Hinn explicates in his book, History is a Weapon, workers have constantly faced oppression both from their employers and the entire political and judicial systems. Nevertheless, there is still the opportunity for improving standards of living of the workers when all the stakeholders involved will come together to address the economic reasons that continue to hinder better wages and living conditions for the American workers.


Works Cited

Douglas O. Linder, Famous trials: An account of the Molly Maguires, University of Missouri at Kansas City. Document, 2010.

Goldstein, R., Justin. Political Repression in Modern America. University of Illinois Press. Document, 2001, p. 29.

Ness, Immanuel. New Forms of Worker Organization: The Syndicalist and Autonomist Restoration of Class-Struggle Unionism. Document, 2014.

Nicholson, P. Y. Labor’s history in the United States. Philadelphia, Temple Univ. Press. 2004.

Zinn, H. History is a Weapon. New York: New York Press. 2015.