For many of us, the word "Rebellion" conjures up the plot from a popular movie - you know the one - with that loyal group of rebels bravely fighting against an evil Galactic empire?
It is something you don't really associate with America because it is a country that has never been conquered since it won its freedom from Britain. However, America did experience various uprisings from 1886 to the late 1930s. Yes, this was a thing in the United States back then and who or what were they rebelling against and why?
The answer is that Americans workers waged a half-century rebellion against the corporations who employed them in protest of their lack of freedom from labor inequality.
Immediately after the Civil War, America experienced a massive industrialization boom made possible by new "tech," such as the telegraph and the railroad, which improved communications and boosted productivity. For the first time, farmers could transport natural resources such as cotton, coal, and grain all over the country at higher speeds. Industrialization was extraordinarily rapid and so widespread that the USA became the world's leading industrialized nation from 1865 to 1913!
Famous American businessmen such as Rockefeller, Carnegie and others formed monopolies, particularly in the steel, railroad and manufacturing industries. Of course, for the industry to move workers were needed and, with the country's growing population, and the arrival of many immigrants from Europe, the supply of labor seemed never-ending.
But almost all workers lived and toiled in horrible conditions, with 12 to 16-hour shifts, no pension, health benefits, job security or even day-offs. Company profits were increasing, yet it did not trickle down to the employees.
Over time, these workers began to push back against the big corporations. Workers across America organized themselves no matter their sex, religion or race. Unions were born, and they demanded or collectively bargained for better working conditions and to end unfair labor practices immediately.
This thrilling first part is an in-depth guide on how the American labor movement unfolded, its ties to American industrial economics and how equality is also an aspect of freedom.