Colonial Era and early America- (1607- 1800)

  • Although only reduced to having farming and a few key blacksmiths colonial labor was entitled to mostly raw material gathering to give to the British for finished goods.
  • In the early life of the colonies indentured servants were brought over to expand to workforce as well as to gain more people in the colonies in general. After a series of uprisings or you could call them the first labor riots the amount of indentured servants dwindled. Due to this slaves became the major labor force of the southern colonies.
  • After the War for Independence in 1790 the first real industry became usable substance by Samuel Slater after copying the plans from the British. This led to the first factory workers as more workers had to fill the positions of the larger textile mills.

The 19th Century- (1801-1899)

  • During the mid 19th century there was a large influx of immigrants as the Irish and Germans escaped their homelands to come to the Americas.
  • Post-Civil War the south was in upheaval as their entire social network was demolished and reworked although the south recovered by incorporating share-cropping a large portion of freemen returned to their original master to work for a wage that was below the standard of the wage earner up north.
  • Industry after the Civil War picked up as the railroads and new methods of corporations were made. New machines were invented but due to these new methods and the greed of some CEOs most laborers were in terrible conditions along with low wages and high hours for the best profit.
  • Due to these poor conditions labor unions were formed to gain privileges for the workers that supported them.
  • One such so called union was the Knights of labor this organization was formed in 1869 but did not become well known until the 1880s. They strived for the eight hour work day and other reforms to labor in industry. But due to public belief in their affiliation with the Haymarket riot they lost support their decline was also instigated by their inability to unite the classes of workers involved.

The Early 20th Century- (1900-1949)

  • Due the urbanization of most industries reforms for labor in the progressive era became highly valuable as the presidents of the era were highly anti-trust. Due to these policies labor was able to gain ground on trying to bring reform to the workplace.
  • The New Deal especially sparked the quick revolution as the Wagner act allowed union collectives to lawfully bring the employer of the union to the table for discussions. The act was highly regarded as the magna carta of labor.
  • Later in 1947 the Taft –Hartley Act reined in the effectiveness and power of the unions to settle deals. This Act may have been a joint stride to cut the effectiveness of labor due to the fear of communism being started in the working class with radical liberals.