Strikes on Railroads??


The railroad strike in 1877 were during the gilded ages.  The strike took place in West Virgina. The reason behind the strike , was due to the cut in wages for the second time in a year by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. In order to help, these railroads to proceed in running, the state military tried their best to restore the train services. However this was not possible because the military soldiers did not want to work against the people who were already on strike.

This led to a negative fall back of the strike, the strike slowly moved towards Baltimore which caused serious violent street battles between the strikers and the Military of Maryland. Moving along the states the strike spread out to the Midwest. Here , in the state of St. Louis, the violence was in control for a week by the St.Louis Military. Certain issues depicted fights between strikers and the police.  By the time the strike was over with, nearly a 100,00o people had been dead. In the end there was very little gains, due to the fact that there was a enforcement on the iron rule on the workers and it made it very difficult to organize.




Dead End Jobs!

The first photograph shows that men in the United States were unable to get aid from the businesses in their own town. The sign is an indication that the businesses themselves were unable to take care of their own employees so men who were looking for work had to try to look elsewhere. The second photograph shows young children holding signs asking why their fathers were unable to get a job. The two photographs are significant to showing the effects of the Great Depression because it shows the severity of the situation people were in. No one was able to help anyone out, even those who were supposed to help others find jobs could not help. There was a dead end road for everyone.


Antiquated Census


       This is a primary document from 1870.  It is the census of The Seals Family living in rural Tennessee.  It indicates all the people that were living in the house this year and also some personal information.  There was a mother, father and nine children in this house ranging from the ages of 1 year to 25 years old.  It shows that four children, all boys, attended school and that all nine were born in Tennessee.  Some names indicate their profession.  Mr. Seal senior was a farmer and his wife Cornelia is listed as ‘keeping the house.’  The three girls stayed at home and James the eldest boy ‘ works on farm.’  The document also indicates who could read and write.       Censuses like this become a very important way that historians today can look at past information.  It gives an insight of what an everyday working man’s life was like.  A document such as this should hold only straight forward information however is possible, but not likely, the data being portrayed is biased or prejudice.  The war had only ended bitterly five years earlier and blacks were still seen as inferior to the majority of the south.  To many, they just ‘didn’t count.’         During and after the war, many freed slaves fled north or searched for loved ones that they had been torn apart from. A census’ main focus is to count the population.  In these situations it would become very difficult if not impossible for an enumerator to accurately accumulate the data that is needed.


King of Steel

A US Steel Bond from the early 1900's

Taking into account the fact that we do attend school in New York city, it’s more than likely that most of our families probably immigrated to the United States in just the past 100 years or so in search of a better life. America was free, and that meant opportunity for anyone to not only better their situation in life, but to really make it – to realize the “American Dream”.

To me, Andrew Carnegie represents better than anyone one else in history, the realization of this “American Dream”. He came here from Scotland in 1848 when his native land fell on hard times. He started as a worker in a cotton mill at the age of 13, working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, earning $8 a month. At 15, he began work as a telegraph messenger boy; and by 1853, when he was just 18 years old he had worked his way up to heading the Pittsburgh division of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company – the perfect place to be to witness and take part in the creation of the world’s first big business.

Fast forward a couple of years to the mid 1870’s. After a considerable amount of successful investments, many of which returned over $1,000,000, Carnegie founds the Carnegie Steel Company. Carnegie Steel quickly becomes an industry leader and plays a major role in The United States becoming the world’s overwhelmingly largest producer of steel. In 1901 Carnegie Steel is integrated as part of the newly found US Steel Corporation, a conglomerate of the largest steel producers in the country created in an effort to maximize profit by minimizing cost and waste, and eliminating competition. The company becomes the world’s first Billion dollar corporation – worth over $1,400,000,000.

Andrew Carnegie’s Shares are bought out for $225,639,000 – thats about $5,741,789,168 in today’s terms.

From his humble begginings as a cotton mill worker to one of the richest, most significant, most influencial men in modern history, Andrew Carnegie is proof that hard work, dedication, and the right opportunities can give anybody a chance and greatness.

Andrew Carnegie IS the American Dream.

-C. Salama


Pendleton Act (1883)

The Pendleton Act is a federal law established in 1883 that use British civic system as a reference and provision that government jobs should be awarded on the basis of merit. This is the first time federal government established the three principles of personnel management, included competitive exams, permanent position and politically neutral position.  It also made it illegal to fire or demotes government employees for political reasons. Started during the Chester A. Arthur administration, the Pendleton Act served as a response to the massive public support of civil service reform that grew following President James Garfield’s assassination by Charles Julius Guiteau.


The 13th Amendment

The 13th Amendment was established on December 6th 1865.  This amendment made it illegal to own slaves.  This was one of the largest amendments considering the excessive amount of slavery in the U.S. especially the South.  From 1865 till today it has been illegal to force someone to work for you even if there is compensation  involved.

The 13th amendment was the 1st amendment that protected blacks in the American constitution.   Abraham Lincoln was the president at the time and just witnessed the civil war which earned blacks the right to live as free people.  The Civil War and was really the major player in declaring America a “free country.”  Soon after the 13th amendment came the 14th and 15th amendments that once again protected blacks.  The 14th amendment allowed blacks to declare themselves as citizens, and the 15th amendment declared that no citizen shall be denired the right to vote regardless of their race, or ethnicity.

In our modern generation people are becoming more and more accepting of others despite their color, and it all started by the prestigious 13th amendment.


Huge Black Friday Sale … of gold on Friday, September 24, 1869

This was the first time the term “Black Friday” was used. It was coined by New York Times in response to the financial panic, caused by manipulation of the price of gold. The scheme was carried out by J Fisk and J Gould. They managed to recruit Abel Corbin, president Grant’s brother-in-law, to persuade president to start selling gold, and to gain access to inside information about when are the sellouts going to be. As a result of their activity on September 24th, 1869 the price of gold fell dramatically within minutes when government started selling. People lost fortunes. It had far reaching disrupting consequences for the economy, as gold was the cornerstone of monetary policy in the US at the time. Foreign trade was halted, export of agricultural products fell by over 50%.
The picture below is the photograph of the transaction board in the New York Gold Room on that day. It shows the prices at which the deals were made. The photograph was used in the subsequent congressional investigation, which was substantially limited because the members of the presidential family were not allowed to testify. Needless to say, presidential reputation was damaged by the crisis.

image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Friday_(1869)

based on:


You Go Girls!

The Seneca Falls Convention was held on July 19-20, 1848 consisting of both men and women whom came together to discuss about women’s rights. This convention was because it started the uprise of woman fighting for their rights. Some politcal gains immediately took effect such as the Married Woman’s Property Act which allowed the rights of ownership to property woman brought into or gained during the marriage.

The Convention had a heated debate over the right for woman to vote. Ultimately it was included and exactly 100 people signed off on this document, mostly women. As a result of the success the held a second convention in Massachusetts.


The First Vote

Congress passed  the Fifteenth Amendment on February 26, 1869  to the United States Constitution.  It prohibits each government in the nation denying citizens to vote, despite of their race, color, or the previous experience of being a slave  except for women. The drawing from above was by Waud, Alfred R.  to portray the first vote of the African Americans. The intention of the artist was to show the eagerness of the former slaves to vote. This amendment did not only granted the African Americans’ right to vote, but also marked the victory of the Civil War.


It Aint Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Sings!

Fat Lady Singing

Reconstruction virtually ended when the fat lady sang in Ford’s Theater.  A single bullet to the back of the head killed the hopes and dreams freed slaves. President Abraham Lincoln was assasignated on the night of April 14, 1865.  Lincoln’s death left Andrew Johnson to be president.

In January 1865 General Sherman issued Special Field Orders, No. 15, which is known to most as 40 Acres and a Mule.  It was an order that gave freed black slaves land. Approximately 10000 freed slaves had settled on 400,000 Acres of land when new President Johnson reversed the order and forced freed blacks to return the land.

Also Established in 1865 was the Freedman’s Bureau. The Freedman’s Bureau created schools & hospitals, negotiated labor contracts, leased or sold confiscated lands to the freed men, and tried to protect former slaves from their masters in the South.  President Johnson vetoed the bill for its extension in 1866. 

The final straw for a reconstruction period that barely got  anything done was in 1877 with the corrupt bargain.  The corrupt bargain was basically a deal that exchanged the presidency for an unsupervised south.  This is likely what lead to Jim Crow laws and other laws of that nature. 

Reconstruction ended at the very beginning, with Lincoln’s Death.


The Return of KKK

In 1865, American Civil War has ended, but the racial war has just started a new chapter.  Although the nation is once again unified, but the difference between racial perspective hasn’t been changed until many years later.  The lost of war did not make southerners give up their believe in slavery.  Many veterans of Confederate Army have organized and committed brutal crimes against white and racial republicans.  Although Ku Klux Klan is organized originally at local area, many other groups across the southern states have adopted the name.  The image above shows three members of Ku Klux Klan under arrest at Tishomingo county, Mississippi on September 1871 for attempt murdering a family.  In 1870, Government passed Force Act to fight the crimes and place soldiers to protect racial republicans and peoples.

This picture above shows a gathering of KKK members Gainesville, Florida at December 31, 1922.  With Government’s involvement, the scale of Ku Klux Klan gets smaller as more members of KKK is prosecuted under the law.  In 1920s, KKK re-emerges when racial conflicts is incorporated with religious conflicts.  The member of KKK become more organized and openly practiced.  The Klan fades away at 1940s because of criminal acts committed by the head of the organizers.


Grants Justify Exploitation?

This a letter from a library trustee to Andrew Carnegie asking for a grant to open a public library in Riverdale, California. According to Foner, “Carnegie dominated the steel industry and had accumulated a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars”. As we all know Carnegie gave much of his fortune away. My question is why couldn’t Carnegie also use his “hundreds of millions of dollars” to pay his workers more or  provide better working conditions for them?

Carnegie  was only one of many business employers that gave most of their fortune away but still took advantage of their employees. How are they “promoting the advancement of society” while exploiting their workers? Doesn’t their exploitation take away from the workers quality of life? I believe they could have promoted the advancement of society by letting workers organize unions and give them a safer work environment. Also, the government could have helped the workers fight for their rights more.


The Amendment that Freed U.S.All

The thirteenth amendment was adopted on December 6, 1865 and became the first amendment of the Reconstruction. This amendment abolished all slavery and involuntary servitude except for punishment for a crime. The importance of this amendment is that it was passed shortly after the Emancipation of Proclamation to show that the proclamation was not just a temporary war measure for the Civil War. President Lincoln wanted to guarantee the slaves their freedom.

In addition, it is also important to know that it took many years for this Amendment to pass. The amendment was rejected the first time by the House of Representative. It was President Lincoln whom worked closely with the House that got the amendment passed the second time around.


The Statue Of Liberty

No symbol of freedom is more revered than the “Statue of Liberty.” Its a global icon and a celebrated symbol of Liberty that embodies America. The Statue of Liberty was built in 1886, during the Gilded Age when America passed through a time of unprecedented economic growth and prosperity. The idea of the statue was conceived by a French educator Laboulaye, he hoped it would represent the historic friendship between France and America, and also the glory of Union’s Victory in the Civil War. Which was in by itself a victory of emancipation, of liberty and equality for all men.

As noted in the book, even though the Statue of Liberty was a celebrated icon when it was built, it couldn’t hide the conflicting social division that manifested during the Gilded Age. There was an unequal distribution of wealth between the upper class and working class where the top 1 percent of  America’s population controlled 99% of wealth. The rich capitalists would live in their fancy multi-million dollar mansions and engaged in “conspicuous consumption” while most of the urban population lived in slums and at the edge of poverty. Labor strikes and protests were common as capitalists tried to take full advantage of the lower class. This period of America created a dialogue which encompasses the crucial question of the social conditions needed for the liberty of it’s citizens and the role of government in fulfilling that condition for en masse.


Civil Rights Act of 1871

During the reconstruction period after the civil war was resolved, there was still turmoil in the south. Many white southerners were unwilling to accept the new government for reasons such as rise in taxes to improve the construction of railroads and schools but the chief reason of discontent in the south is that the southerners could not tolerate the civil rights act of 1866 which allowed males to vote despite their previous background. In response to the civil rights act of 1866, white southerners who opposed the ideas of the new government formed a secret organization known as the Ku Klux Klan. The main goal of the Ku Klux Klan was to prevent blacks from voting by harassing the blacks in their community and often time’s murdering them in order to cause a scare.

            In order to counter the actions of the Ku Klux Klan, the Civil Rights act of 1871 was enacted by President Ulysses Grant. With this act in power, federal troops were sent to the south to protect blacks from being harassed or assaulted by secret organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan. During this time many members of the Ku Klux Klan were arrested and were put on trial for the atrocities they have committed.


Making it right for everyone!

Women's rights leaders

Letter written by Susan B Anthony

Susan B. Anthony  was a great civil rights activist.   She was one of the founders of the National Woman’s Suffrage Association.  An organization fighting for the rights of women to vote and hold office. When looking through some of the primary documents, I was pleased to find the letter attached to this post.  Susan was well educated, as many of the men in that time period, but believed that blacks were humans and were just like whites.

Susan B. Anthony with the help of Elizabeth Cady Stanton stood up for women and lead a campaign that she did not live to see, but 14 years after her death, the 19th Amendment was passed giving women the rights to vote!


Robert E. Lee’s Surrender at Appomattox 1865

General Robert E. Lee, the Commander of the Confederate forces, found his army completely surrounded and ravished by Union soldiers. He was forced to surrender to the Union, or have his forces annihilated in a dragged out war in which he was vastly outnumbered in.  On April 9th, 1865, he agreed to meet with his opponent, Union General and future President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant.  They were to meet at a farmhouse owned by Wilmer McLean, where General Grant would officially sign the surrender of the Confederate Forces.  This therefore was the official end to the Civil War.

Lincoln wanted to make the nation a whole again; a solid, single, united nation, the United States of America.  In order to accomplish this Lincoln allowed confederate soldiers to sign a form to allow them to be part of the Union, citizens of the United States.  Confederate officers were, for the most part excluded from this offer, on the basis of high treason; however,Lincoln extended the honor of becoming a citizen to the opposing Commander, and one of his friends General Robert E. Lee.  It is a little know fact that Lincoln had originally asked West Point Graduate Lee to be his Commander AGAINST the South, but Lee declined the offer stating he was a Virginian and could not fight against his home.  Lee accepted the offer and was once again by all standards a legal citizen.


Citizenship for All

This text is a primary document because it is the original text of the 14th amendment. It was added to the constitution at July 9 1868. It established the citizenship clause, due process clause, and the equal protection clause. Each clause was meant to give African American’s equal rights after the civil war. This text was important because it was one of the first step to let the African Americans to taste what freedom is about.

When the 14 th Amendment that was ratified during the Reconstruction Era, the main portion of the amendment was that it indicates that a person will become citizen when they are natural born in the United States. Naturalized citizens will have the same rights as American citizens. They will be protected under laws. African Americans who were born after the ratification of this amendment have gained such freedom and they will be given the rights just like an American citizen. Many African Americans have the rights to own property, to go to school, and so on. They were also gaining political powers by having the chance to work in the congress. They also had the opportunity to set up their own community for gathering and socialization.


Fight for freedom after freedom

This picture was a democratic election campaign. In just under a year for the first time in history a president, Johnson, was placed on trial. Democrats openly appealed to racism during the election while Republicans concentrated on Reconstruction.

After the emancipation proclamation granted freedom to most slaves, the Freedman’s Bureau was organized by the government in an attempt to aid blacks whether it be in their attempt to attain an education, labor, etc. However, as was inevitable there was considerable resistance to granting freedmen and “freedoms.”


Progress and Poverty

Progress and Poverty by Henry George was published in 1879. It brought to light the economic conditions that existed in the Gilded Age. The Gilded Age was supposed to be a time of economic growth and reform for everyone in the nation once the Civil War was over. However, this was not the case and many were unsatisfied and unhappy with the economic situation; Henry George was one of these people.

In this book, Henry George not only brought attention to the unequal distribution of wealth during the time, but also proposed his own ideas and methods for a solution to this inequality. He was not the only one to create such a publication. During the time, there were many who were unsatisfied with the unequal distribution of wealth and had their own unique ideas on ways to fix the problem. However, Progress and Poverty received much public attention because of the fact that his explanations of the current economic situation were clearer than others and also because many agreed with his ideology that the current economic situation was one that should have been left in the times before the war ended.