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Robber Barons and Wretched RefuseEthnic and Class Dynamics during the Era of American Industrialization$
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Robert F. Zeidel

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501748318

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501748318.001.0001

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Into the New Century

Into the New Century

Economic Expansion and Continued Discord

(p.108) Chapter 5 Into the New Century
Robber Barons and Wretched Refuse

Robert F. Zeidel

Cornell University Press

This chapter details how the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901 reinforced the presumed connection between immigrants and class-based radicalism that had been building for the previous thirty-five years. Concurrent developments, above and beyond the president's murder, would insure continuation of the linkage. With the end of the 1890s depression, the new century's first decade saw the arrival of record numbers of immigrants, increasingly coming from southern and eastern Europe. Return of commercial prosperity cemented employers' need of their labor, but the continued reliance on foreign-born workers by businesses came amid intensified concerns about the foreigners' problematic behaviors. Over the next ten years, against a backdrop of economic growth coupled with virtually continuous labor conflict, these presumptions would bring heightened calls for immigration restriction, and would push business interests to intensify their efforts to control labor, notably in industries with predominately alien workforces.

Keywords:   William Mckinley, immigrants, class-based radicalism, employers, foreign workers, economic growth, labor conflict, immigration restriction, alien workforces, businesses

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