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Trailing the Civil War, America entered a time of reconstruction and repression as it joined the civil rights movement. The United States also begins the Gilded Age. This time period is between the end of the Civil War and the start of World War 1. During this era, there is enormous economic gain. However, as the economy grows and profits, problems arise as cities attempt to keep up with industrialization. Key industrial leaders such as Jane Addams and Samuel Gompers identified and responded to the economic dilemmas resulting from the rapid industrialization of America.
Many problems that appeared during the industrialization of America happened due to the brisk formations of cities and the conditions of those who lived in them. When new factories were built, people built around them, but many areas were not ready for this rapid growth. It takes many people to run a factory, and when places became highly populated opportunities for education, entertainment and housing became scarce. The arrival of immigrants also added to the numbers and confusion in cities.
Another problem during industrialization were working conditions. Many people working in factories spent long hours each day in an unsafe and unhealthy environment.
The workers also did not get fair payment or hours for the work they were preforming. Even though these people were not treated well, they could not speak out against the problem because people could be easily replaced. Jane Addams confronted the complications associated with the rapid urbanization and immigrants joining American society. Addams was inspired on a trip to England with her companion and co-founder Ellen Gates Starr.
Addams noticed the organization and success of social settlement houses and decided to bring the idea back with her to America. Addams and Starr created the first settlement house in America, the Hull House. The Hull House was made up of thirteen buildings and was located in Chicago, Illinois.
This foundation provided services to the community such as daycare, entertainment, citizenship classes, schooling, and art and literature enhancement, all free of charge. The mission statement of the Hull House was, “To provide a center for a higher civic and social life; to institute and maintain educational and philanthropic enterprises, and to investigate and improve the conditions in the industrial districts of Chicago.” (The Hull House Motto). Addams remained head residents until her death at the Hull House. By helping immigrants better understand and blend into the working class as well as provided quality services to the increasing working class, Jane Addams effectively responded to the problems created by industrialization.
Samuel Gompers dealt with issues related to the harsh working conditions of an American factory worker. Gompers was the founder and president of the American Federation of Labor (AFL). This organizations were formed due to the discontent with other labor unions such as the Knights of Labor. The AFL emphasized better working conditions, pay, hours, control, and stability. Gompers successfully created this federation by only allowing skilled workers to be members. Skilled workers were harder to replace than main stream Americans or immigrants. This concept plus the avoidance of politics allowed to the AFL to tangibly and strongly protest. The AFL was also mainly made up of workers rather than employers, unlike other labor unions. Samuel Gompers tells what the AFL stands for when he said, “The trade union movement represents the organized economic power of the workers.
It is in reality the most potent and the most direct social insurance the workers can establish.” Samuel Gompers helped solve industrial conflicts by improving the safety, stability, and quality of jobs worked by many Americans. As America grew and prospered, it had to learn how to be an industrial power. When problems arose due to rapid urbanization and harsh working conditions. Key figures helped find solutions to the problems at hand. By identifying and solving conflicts that rose during the industrialization of America, Jane Addams and Samuel Gompers were crucial advocators during the industrialization of America.
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