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Curriculum Unit on the Gilded Age in the United States

Grade Levels

High School 9-12



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During the Gilded Age, numerous political, social, economic, and cultural reforms were taking place all at once. One of the major reforms of the time was labor because of the problems workers and their employers had with each other. Up until the 1860s, most Americans either worked on a farm or ventured into the city to obtain an industrial position in a cut-throat factory. Life working in the factories was hard and lacked regulation. Child labor, instant job termination, low and unreliable wages, and long hours were the common job expectation. It was not until grassroots movements and labor organizations, such as the Knights of Labor, started forming that workers finally began having a voice. While the Knights of Labor started out small with the members having common goals, the organization grew rapidly into a diverse membership including everyone from factory workers to shop owners. The disagreement over the preference of strikes instead of unions led to the Haymarket Disaster on May 4th, 1886. This incident occurred in Haymarket Square in Chicago when anarchists threw a bomb into the police line. While eight police officers were killed and eight anarchists were tried for murder, no one to this day knows who threw the bomb.

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lesson plan, Gilded Age, Haymarket, Knights of Labor


Curriculum and Instruction | United States History

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The Haymarket Disaster and the Knights of Labor



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