The European Immigrants Socialist Tradition
Socialism in America dates back in 1850s during the arrival of immigrants from Germany as confirmed by Russo (2000). It had a hope and belief that through proper governing, people can be saved from boom and depression. In the period between 1880 and 1920, the US experienced a variety of political and social movements, which were geared towards the improvement of different areas. These disruptive and rapid changes did not come easy to many Americans who felt uncomfortable especially those who were participating in those movements in a bid to influence these changes. In short, this change brought a lot of controversy as different people viewed it in varying perspectives. Socialism was particularly felt in the labor movement. In 1894, there occurred a Pullman strike among workers in the railway and roads construction company called Pullman in Illinois. This company was named after a young entrepreneur known as George Pullman. The strike was focused in ending unrest in the labor union, balancing the economic interests of capitalism and labor. Socialism was also a key concern during this historical moment. It grew rapidly in 1900s under the influence of Eugene Debs (Trommler & Shore, 2001).
This unrest brought about a major drop in US gold reserves and unusual spending of the United States. This financial panic was felt in 1893 when massive job losses occurred as well as closing of banks, which led to a major depression. Desperation resulted to establishment of a union called American Union (ARU) where many workers joined. Eugene Debs organized this union and in 1894 he led a successful strike, which was in opposition to the Great Northern Railway Company. In the year that followed, workers storm into Pullman Company in support of Debs asking all train workers to boycott all work concerning Pullman`s vehicles.
The period towards the end of the 18[th] Century also experienced labor violence. A strike occurred in Homestead at a steel Plant called Carnegie (Russo, 2000). Workers exchanged gunfire with Pinkerton Detective Agencies at Monongahela River as many people from Pennsylvania joined the battle. This followed as the owner of the plant Carnegie attempted to reduce wages after several confrontations with Henry Frick, his business partner, over breaking of the union. In 1880s, farmers from Midwest and South formed a movement called Populist Revolt, which was against Republican and Democratic parties over ignoring their grievances and needs (Trommler & Shore, 2001). This is after they realized that they were experiencing many challenges such as lack of market for their products, poor crop production as well as denied access credit facilities.
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire was a tragedy that occurred in a clothing factory in New York in 1910s.This was a company owned by two immigrants from Russia, Isaac Harris and Max Blank. However, the workers mostly young girls worked in this factory under poor conditions, low wages and long working hours. Fighting for equality and liberty was also felt in America in 1900s (Russo, 2000). Francis Bellamy, a Christian socialist inn 1892 wrote a pledge of alliance and added the word `Equality` to the nation flag in a bid to fight for justice.
Katharine Lee Bates was another socialist who had a great love for the America and protested against exploitation and greed of capitalism. She was very optimistic that one day America will be wisely governed and become a beautiful country for every citizen. This was confirmed through her poem “America the Beautiful” (Russo, 2000). After a long period of exploitation of workers by their employees, The Industrial Workers of the World was established in 1905 (Trommler & Shore, 2001).The, union had a feeling that all workers be united as one. The union also aimed at abolishing wage labor and capitalism. In 1920s, most workers had joined the Union, which achieved some of its intended goals for the benefits of its members.
Russo, D. (2000). American History from a Global Perspective: An Interpretive Text. New York NY: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Trommler, F. & Shore, E. (2001). The German-American Encounter: Conflict and Cooperation Between Two Cultures, 1800-2000. London UK: Berghahn Books