SAQs for APUSH Topic 6.7 — Labor in the Gilded Age

  1. The Gilded Age began shortly before the start of America’s Second Industrial Revolution and ended ten years after the start of the Progressive Era. It also overlapped the Era of Reconstruction. When did the Second Industrial Revolution begin? When did the Progressive Era begin and when did it end? Same question for the Era of Reconstruction.
  2. During the Gilded Age, the industrial workforce (aka laborers who worked in factories) became more diverse through internal and international migration. Click here for ten questions that relate to those the immigrants and migrants that made up a good portion of the industrial workforce during the Gilded Age.
  3. During the Gilded Age, child labor increased, with this child labor often consisting of the offspring poor immigrant parents. The ‘newsboys’ for example. What was a newsboy? Evidence of child labor during the Gilded Age can also be found in the street trades, mines, cotton mills, glass bottle production factories, home workshops, and farms. What’s a “street trade?” Name and briefly describe one way in which child labor was revealed in the years following the Gilded Age. Name and briefly describe one New Deal response to child labor.
  4. During the Gilded Age, the labor force worked to increase the production of goods. Name and briefly describe one of the more historically noteworthy “goods” that labor produced during the Gilded Age.
  5. During the Gilded Age, laborers’ (aka workers’) real wages increased. What does the term “real wages” mean?
  6. During the Gilded Age, laborers obtained new access to a variety of goods and services. Name one ‘good’ that laborers during the Gilded Age had access to? Name one ‘service’ that laborers during the Gilded Age had access to?
  7. During the Gilded Age, the standard of living of many laborers improved. As their standard of living improved, they were able to experience a growing amount of leisure time. Name and briefly describe one thing that laborers could do with their leisure time that did not exist before the Gilded Age, would bring the laborer great joy and entertainment, and that did not cost the laborer significant amounts of money.
  8. During the Gilded Age, labor increasingly sought to organize local and national unions. One of the first large-scale U.S. unions was the National Labor Union, founded shortly before the start of the Gilded Age. This union sought to organize skilled and unskilled laborers, farmers, and factory workers. Two large groups of Americans were however not allowed to join this union. What were the groups? Name and briefly describe the mission of one union founded during the Gilded Age that still exists today.
  9. During the Gilded Age, labor increasingly sought to directly confront business leaders. The word “strike” is most often used to describe labor’s direct confrontation of business leaders during the Gilded Age? What’s a “strike?” Despite the efforts of the Gilded Age labor unions, which staged more than 20,000 strikes from 1870–1900, unions made relatively little progress when it came to getting laborers to join a union. In fact, as the Gilded Age came to a close, less than 5 percent of working people belonged to a union. Give one reason why so few laborers joined a union during the Gilded Age
  10. During the Gilded Age, labor often battled with management. What two issues did labor and management most often battle over? The Homestead Strike is evidence of one battle between labor and management during the Gilded Age. The Pullman Strike is evidence of another battle. When labor and management would battle during the Gilded Age, which side would typically win? Name and briefly describe one effect that the Homestead and Pullman strikes had on American culture and society? What role did government play in the Homestead and Pullman Strikes? One other bit of evidence — the Haymarket Strike. Briefly describe.
  11. During the Gilded Age, the gap between rich and poor (aka laborers) grew. “Social Darwinism” was one thing that made it possible for some Americans to so distance themselves from the poor when it came to the acquisition of wealth.
  12. One other thing that made it possible for some Americans to distance themselves from the poor was the government’s policy of laissez-faire? What is “Social Darwinism?” What is “laissez-faire?”
Child Labor in the Gilded Age
The Haymarket Square Riot
The Homestead Strike

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Peter Paccone

Peter Paccone

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High school APUSH teacher with much in-class and online teaching experience. Also a blogger, keynote speaker, editor, podcast host, and conference presenter.