A Short History of the U.S. Working Class: From Colonial by Paul Le Blanc

By Paul Le Blanc

Noting that normal debts of U.S. background usually pay little recognition to the operating classification, exertions historian Paul Le Blanc provides a colourful, fact-filled background that concentrates at the struggles and achievements of that often-neglected laboring majority. using a mix of monetary, social, and political heritage, Le Blanc indicates how very important hard work concerns were and remain within the forging of our nation’s heritage. inside a extensive analytical framework he highlights problems with classification, gender, race, and ethnicity, and contains the perspectives of key figures of U.S. exertions, together with Cesar Chavez, Eugene V. Debs, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Samuel Gompers, Woody Guthrie, “Big invoice” Haywood, Langston Hughes, Mary “Mother” Jones, Martin Luther King Jr., George Meany, A. Philip Randolph, and Carl Sandburg.

In addition to the most narrative, a bibliographical essay directs readers to vintage works and state of the art scholarship within the box of U.S. exertions historical past in addition to to suitable ¬fiction, poetry, and ¬films for extra exploration or research. The book’s massive word list bargains transparent definitions and thought-provoking mini-essays for nearly 2 hundred phrases, from the main uncomplicated to the main advanced and technical.

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Additional info for A Short History of the U.S. Working Class: From Colonial Times to the Twenty-First Century

Sample text

Extracting either kind of wealth—from mining or agriculture—required the control of a supply of skilled (if unfree) labor. However, diseases and the brutality of Columbus, Cortez, and others had killed off up to 90 percent of the native population. While the survivors worked in Spanish gold mines, plantations, or ranches, the ruling class sought a new supply of labor, and procuring this labor became yet another lucrative business. Millions of Africans were enslaved and crammed onto slave ships for the “middle passage” to the Americas.

There were landowners with huge estates, which depended on the hard work of agricultural laborers and tenant farmers. There were also more small family farms than were able to exist in the plantation-dominated South. Some of these were more or less thriving commercial farms run like small businesses, and many were simply subsistence farms on which relatively poor families would eke out a modest but independent existence. There was nothing quite so dramatic as Bacon’s Rebellion in the North. Yet growing tensions—sometimes punctuated by violent conflict—naturally developed between wealthy elites and hard-pressed majorities in the rural areas of that region.

This elemental understanding is shared more widely today than was the case back then, and there has also been, in our society, the deepened awareness that “great social changes are impossible without the feminine ferment” (as Karl Marx once noted). ” The organized labor movement has “seen better days,” to put it mildly. But what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. History shows that hard times, sooner or later, generate hard-fought struggles through which we’re capable of winning victories and bringing better times.

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