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A History of the American Worker

A History of the American Worker

Edited by RICHARD B. MORRIS
Copyright Date: 1983
Pages: 278
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zvd2n
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  • Book Info
    A History of the American Worker
    Book Description:

    Offering the six historical essays from the out-of-print Bicentennial volume originally published by the U.S. Department of Labor, this book tells the richly dramatic and rewarding story of the working men and women who built the nation, from colonial settlement and the beginning of the republic through the modern labor movement and the space age.

    Originally published in 1983.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5617-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[v])
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-5)
    Richard B. Morris

    It is with pleasure I note that this volume, published in the Bicentennial year, adds an important dimension to the history of the United States. It deals not with Presidents, the Congress, and the Supreme Court. Instead, it treats of the working men and women who built the nation and whose struggles and achievements deserve a central place in a people’s history of the United States. This volume represents the cooperative effort of six specialists in the field of American labor history.

    From the time of colonial settlement, American labor has been recruited from abroad, from Great Britain, the European...

  4. 1 THE EMERGENCE OF AMERICAN LABOR
    (pp. 7-41)
    Richard B. Morris

    On August 5, 1774, just a month before the First Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia, the shipNeedhamlanded in New York from Newry, England, Captain William Cunningham, master. The ship’s cargo was white indentured servants. On arrival they protested to the authorities that they had been kidnapped in Ireland and had suffered “bad usage” on the voyage across, the Atlantic. Whereupon the city fathers ordered them discharged. The servants had gained their freedom, but Cunningham nursed a grudge, and later, as the notorious provost marshal of the British army in America, he confined captured Patriots to atrocious prison ships...

  5. 2 BUILDERS OF THE YOUNG REPUBLIC
    (pp. 43-77)
    Edward Pessen

    In 1789 the British consul in America reported to London that “a series of centuries” would have to elapse before a people “possessing [so] strong a natural disposition” to agriculture as the Americans would undertake manufacturing on a large scale. His estimate proved wrong. In less than half a century the young republic emerged as a leading industrial nation, second only to England. About one out of six working Americans in 1800 were engaged in nonagricultural labor; by 1850 the proportion had risen to almost half. The second quarter of the nineteenth century saw canals, steamboats, and railroads carrying the...

  6. 3 LABOR IN THE INDUSTRIAL ERA
    (pp. 79-113)
    David Montgomery

    When the Skeffingtons left famine–ridden Ireland, they were determined to change their lives for the better. They did not rest until they reached the gold fields of California. Wealth eluded them, however, and they with their son, Harry, who was born in 1858, headed eastward to Philadelphia. When Harry was 13, they sent him to Portage, Wisconsin, to study for the priesthood. But he was destined to preach a different gospel from that which his parents had intended.

    Within a year the lad had returned to Philadelphia to try his hand as an apprentice at a number of trades....

  7. 4 WORKERS OF A NEW CENTURY
    (pp. 115-149)
    Philip Taft

    During the economic crisis that gripped the country in the early 1890s, farmers complained of low prices, businessmen of falling orders, and wage earners of salary cuts. Unemployment was widespread. Armies of jobless men swarmed over the countryside and rode freight trains. Bread lines and soup kitchens became commonplace.

    The depression of the 1890s had softened the public attitude towards organized labor. Between 1897 and 1904, union membership climbed from 447,000 to 2,072,700. In the same period, the number of internationals affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) rose from fifty-eight to 120. The AFL had come on the...

  8. 5 AMERICANS IN DEPRESSION AND WAR
    (pp. 151-185)
    Irving Bernstein

    Unemployment was the overriding fact of life when Franklin D. Roosevelt became President of the United States on March 4, 1933. An anomaly of the time was that the government did not systematically collect statistics on joblessness, actually did not start doing so until 1940. The Bureau of Labor Statistics later estimated that 12,830,000 persons were out of work in 1933, about one-fourth of a civilian labor force of over fifty-one million. March was the record month, with about fifteen and a half million unemployed. There is no doubt that 1933 was the worst year, and March the worst month...

  9. 6 UNIONS AND RIGHTS IN THE SPACE AGE
    (pp. 187-214)
    Jack Barbash

    World War II forced the integration of the newer unions into the war effort and forced business into working out accommodations with the unions for the duration. Absent the urgency of war, business might not have conceded industrial union power quite so quickly. In this sense, World War II and its immediate aftermath represent a period of consolidation of union power. This was followed successively by containment, which began with the enactment of the Taft-Hartley law, and renewal, as evidenced by the eruption of public–sector unionism in the early 1960s.

    Wartime controls inevitably built up tensions within the rank...

  10. THE BARGAINING TABLE
    (pp. 215-222)
    John T. Dunlop

    As Professor Barbash has shown, the destiny of the American worker is directly related to that unique U. S. institution—collective bargaining. It is therefore appropriate that the former Secretary of Labor should provide, as a capstone to this chapter, an essay on the evolution of collective bargaining.

    The American collective bargaining system embraces at least three characteristics distinctive to industrial relations in the United States. Perhaps the most significant is that our system of industrial relations is highly decentralized. The prevalence of plant and company negotiations grew out of the patterns of organizations among employers and unions scattered across...

  11. Authors’ Biographies
    (pp. 223-228)
  12. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 229-240)
  13. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 241-251)
  14. CHRONOLOGY
    (pp. 252-271)