Cal State San Marcos the Gilded Age Labor Movement
The aim of this first paper is for you to draw on your reading of documents related to Gilded Age labor movements, in order to produce a piece of written work that demonstrates your analytical and writing abilities.
The course textbook, The American Yawp, argues that “the explosive growth of big business, unprecedented fortunes, and a vast industrial workforce in the last quarter of the nineteenth century sparked the rise of a vast American labor movement,” and that union membership began to rise after the Great Railroad Strike.
Using ALL of the primary sources listed below, write a short essay discussing the priorities of the Gilded Age labor movement. What were the main aims of workers’ organizations and labor unions, and what changes did they seek in order to achieve greater justice and equality for workers? What were their main criticisms of capitalists and government, and to what extent were labor unions and the working class committed to full representation and equality for all poor and working-class people?
Trade Union members, Criticism of Andrew Carnegie’s Philanthropy, New Castle Dispatch. Reprinted in New York World (1901)
Workingmen’s Party of California (Dennis Kearney, President, and H. L. Knight, Secretary), “Appeal from California. The Chinese Invasion. Workingmen’s Address,” Indianapolis Times, 28 February 1878. [NOTE: the Workingmen’s Party was a labor organization, a combination of political party and labor union]
Peter Clark, Message of support for railroad strikers, The Cincinnati Commercial, July 23, 1877.
Editorial – Black Men and Labor Unions, The National Reflector, 9 October, 1897. (The article is on the left-hand side of the page, about half-way down)
American Federation of Labor National Convention debate, “Silver and Woman’s Work,” Kansas City Star, December 18, 1898.
You should read the textbook (Chapter 16, Section IV) and watch the class lecture (Capitalism, Inequality, and Labor Movements in the Gilded Age), and you may use these sources to help with background and historical context, BUT your essay should focus primarily on analyzing the primary source documents, and using your analysis to help you answer the question.
Note: of the five documents provided for this paper, four were included in your Week 2 reading, while the American Federation of Labor document is new.
Do NOT simply summarize one document after the other. While some summary of each author’s argument may be necessary, you should move beyond summary in order to compare and contrast the ideas of each author, and to offer a SYNTHESIS of their key arguments.
Try to avoid the use of quotations. You may use quotes, but only do so if absolutely necessary to make your point. You should be able to write your paper without using any quotations from the documents. One of the skills you are developing here is the ability to explain complex ideas in your own words.
You do NOT need a separate introduction or conclusion. Just focus on making these two paragraphs as strong as possible, and answering the assignment question as clearly as you can.
Take care with your writing. Choose your words and construct your sentences carefully, and proofread your work before submission. Clarity of writing will be taken into consideration when grading your paper. Papers that demonstrate spelling, grammar, punctuation, or sentence construction problems may suffer reduced grades.
Use ONLY the documents provided. Do NOT visit the library, or the internet. The aim of this paper is to test your ability to analyze and discuss the documents provided.
Use your own words. Plagiarism is unacceptable and is grounds for a failing grade. If you are confused about what constitutes plagiarism, consult the Academic Misconduct section the class website on Cougar Courses, or ask the instructor.