History of the Labor Movement in the United States - Vol. 2

History of the Labor Movement in the United States - Vol. 2

History of the Labor Movement in the United States - Vol. 2

History of the Labor Movement in the United States - Vol. 2

Synopsis

The '80s Socialist movement and Labor; the Knights of Labor; Haymarket and May Day; Labor political action; The rise of the AFL; The Homestead strike; Coal creek and Cour d'Alene; American Railway Union; Pullman strike; Labor populism; Labor and the Spanish-American War; Labor and imperialism, more.

Excerpt

In 1947, the first volume of my History of the Labor Movement in the United States was published. It covered the period from colonial times to the founding of the American Federation of Labor which dates its inception from 1881, the year the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions was formed.

The present volume carries the story from 1881 to the close of the nineteenth century. While the scope is small in comparison with that covered by the preceding volume, the issues and events discussed are of great importance for an understanding of the emergence of the modern labor movement. The volume covers the two decades which set the mould and the outlook of organized labor for many years to come. These years marked the rise and decline of the Knights of Labor, the early development of the American Federation of Labor, the formation of the Socialist Party, the rise and decline of Populism, the growth of monopoly capitalism and the emergence of American imperialism. During these years the modern labor movement came into being in the United States.

In April, 1897, Professor W. M. Burke of Oberlin College wrote to Samuel Gompers and inquired if the A. F. of L. President could recommend a book that would give a thorough and accurate history of the labor movement during the 1880's and 1890's. Gompers informed his correspondent that the history of the labor movement for the period indicated "is not yet written. . . . Most of it is in the correspondence in the archives of our office and having been so engrossed with the work there have been few to write it, and thus far we have had none who have had the leisure and opportunity to take up this line of work."

The history of the labor movement in the eighties and nineties has not been ignored since Gompers replied to his correspondent. But none of the books covering these decades, including the monumental work by John R. Commons and his associates at the University of Wisconsin, were based on the source material in the archives of the American Federation of Labor. From its very inception, the files and records of the A. F. of L. remained closed to all but the officials of the organization. Scholars interested in the beginnings of the modern American labor movement were compelled to tell this dramatic and important story without the benefit of the most important source material.

The present writer was fortunate in obtaining access to the vast collection of manuscript sources in the A. F. of L. headquarters. I spent many . . .

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