The Second Industrial Revolution Era

The Second Industrial Revolution Era ranged from 1878-1913. The last three decades of the nineteenth century ushered in the era of political machines and spoils system. The Comprise of 1877 secured victory for President Rutherford B. Hayes at the cost of withdrawing troops from the South, which rendered the government funded reconstruction effort a toothless lion, relinquishing formerly enslaved people subject to the whim and good will of their previous enslavers. The federal government’s abandonment of the south forced African Americans to provide for themselves from within their communities.  The new industrial era connected big business and government, silencing the needs and concerns of women, working class and African American people.  Industrial giants like John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, and J.P. Morgan employed white ethnic immigrants in their factories. Many of these people were exploited in slave-like conditions until workers united and forced change, such as an eight-hour work day and moderate safety measures.

Photo of an unknown sharecropper. Library of
Congress, LC-USF34-017112-C.
The majority of African Americans lived in the south and did not have the economic means to escape their vocations, most often sharecropping. During this period, a trickle of men, women and young adults began to leave the south and travel northward; this trickle led to the largest internal migration in US history. The Great Migration of 1910-1930 relocated millions of African Americans from southern states to northern cities such as Chicago, Pittsburgh, Washington, DC, New York, and Detroit. The push-pull factor was economic: the belief that better jobs with skilled and semi-skilled labor would lift many out of poverty took on spiritual meaning. Unfortunately, the new life sought by these migrants was filled with great difficulty, and they encountered conflicts with racism, white ethnic tensions and poverty. To counter this period of indifference, black women remained stalwarts throughout the black community.


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