The History of Freedom

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Throughout history freedom has had many different meanings and definitions; based on race, gender, and ethnicity. According to the dictionary freedom means the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint (“freedom” def. 1). Freedom may seem like something given to everyone however it was something workers had to fight for. Not everyone believed that workers’ rights needed to be changed, which led to a long battle between workers, employers and the government. To the working class people freedom meant making higher wages, having regulated hours, workable conditions and the right to free speech. The fight for equal working rights can be tracked back to the time of reconstruction with the institution of sharecropping. Sharecropping is a type of farm tenancy that developed after the Civil War in which landless workers farmed land in exchange for farm supplies and a share of the crop (Foner A-63). This system seemed like a decent thing to many blacks because now they could own their own land and work without supervision. Not all aspects of sharecropping were good though, blacks had to provide clothing, medicine and pay for medical bills all on their own. Also the working conditions were not the greatest. Blacks were expected to labor ten hours a day on average in the winter and summer and any time that was lost would be at the cost of one dollar per day (“A Sharecropping” 12). This was just the beginning of harsh working conditions and low wages which would continue to be a concern for workers throughout the years. In a time where jobs were scarce and the economy was suffering, the second industrial revolution brought about new changes to the work force and the economy. Du... ... middle of paper ... ... they were able to receive shorter work hours, the right to free speech and overall better working conditions. These changes were just the beginning of what would be a whole new sense of freedom for the working American people. Works Cited “A Sharecropping Contract,” in Voices of Freedom. Ed by Eric Foner Definitions. Web. 08 Mar. 2011. . Elizabeth Flynn, “The Industrial Workers of the World and the Free Speech Fights,” in Voices of Freedom. Ed. By Eric Foner "Freedom | Define Freedom at Dictionary.com." Dictionary.com | Free Online Dictionary for English Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty. 3rd ed. Vol. Two. New York: Norton &, 2011. Print. John Ryan, “A Living Wage,” in Voices of Freedom. Ed. By Eric Foner William Sumner, “William Graham Sumner on Social Darwinism,” in Voices of Freedom. Ed. By Eric Foner
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