Age of Industrial Violence, 1910-15: The Activities and Findings of the United States Commission on Industrial Relations

Age of Industrial Violence, 1910-15: The Activities and Findings of the United States Commission on Industrial Relations

Age of Industrial Violence, 1910-15: The Activities and Findings of the United States Commission on Industrial Relations

Age of Industrial Violence, 1910-15: The Activities and Findings of the United States Commission on Industrial Relations

Excerpt

From the close of the Civil War until the early twentieth century industrialization swept through America with startling rapidity. Huge corporations rose to dominate the economy, while masses of workmen found themselves permanently dependent upon the wage system. Severe tensions emerged, particularly in the field of industrial relations.

American society assumed that people could resolve their disputes pacifically. It presupposed a willingness on the part of its citizens to compromise, to abide by civil authority, and to seek desired reforms by peaceful means. If men, regardless of justification, rejected these postulates and resorted to violence, they attacked the basis of civilized order.

During the Progressive era, the United States Commission on Industrial Relations, by public hearings and research, traversed the continent to discover the underlying causes of industrial strife. Congress had charged these commissioners to investigate a sweeping range of topics and armed them with extensive power. Concerned chiefly with events in the years 1910 to 1915, these investigators questioned over 700 witnesses and collected about 6½ million words of testimony. Into their presence came men of international fame: John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Andrew Carnegie, Samuel Gompers, William D. ("Big Bill") Haywood, Louis D. Brandeis, and Clarence Darrow. Equally the probers paid attention to humble people known scarcely beyond their own neighborhoods: miners and farmers, garment workers and lumberjacks, silk weavers and mechanics. Human warmth, deep hatred, intense drama, and occasional comedy highlighted these sessions.

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