This essay sample essay on Why Is America The Land Of Opportunity offers an extensive list of facts and arguments related to it. The essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion are provided below.
The progressive era, being known for reform of political corruption, health laws, and labor laws all came with the suffering of thousands. Many of these reforms were at the torment of the immigrants that came to America in search of a better life. In “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair, we are brought to the pain and distress of the progressive era through Jurgis and his family. Through this family we are taken to Packingtown in Chicago to view the effects of progressivism on the nations industries and immigrant families.
In Sinclair’s, “The Jungle” we are shown the progressive era’s effects on immigrants and their families which lead to the creation of many laws we have today. Immigrant families came to America in search of new opportunities through the idea that America was a place to prosper-possibly become wealthy-and provide a better life for their families. “It was Jonas who suggested that they all go to America, where a friend of his had gotten rich. He would work for his part, and the women would work, and some of the children, doubtless- they would live somehow.
Why Is America The Land Of Opportunity Essay
”(Sinclair 22) Every Immigrant who came to America believed that America was the land of opportunity. Between the years nineteen hundred and nineteen hundred and twenty, over fourteen million Immigrants had come to America to make their lives better. Upon arriving in the United States many of the immigrants had a dream that the money would begin to flow in and their dreams would come true. Besides the opportunity to make money most of the Immigrants fled their old lives to escape the shortage of land, and political and religious persecution in hopes that America could free them from all of troubles of their homeland.
“…Employment for thousands upon thousands of men, of opportunity and freedom, of life and love and joy. When they came away, arm in arm, Jurgis was saying, ’tomorrow I shall go there and get a job! ’”(Sinclair 29) Many had dreams of finding great jobs as soon as arriving in America. This dream was quickly destroyed when future workers began looking for jobs. True getting jobs were not impossible but for Immigrants these jobs that they were able to acquire were not great jobs.
They were jobs that required little skill and much more focused on stamina. These backbreaking jobs were tough and did not let up. Without the labor laws and help from the American Federation of Labor (AFL)-and many of its subsidiaries (i. e. UMWA, IWW, NCL)-that we have today-limiting the amount we work and a set minimum wage-many of the immigrants worked twelve hour days, seven days a week for a mere twelve dollars and fifty cents a week. That’s a fourteen-cent hourly wage.
This is shown in Jurgis’ family for which in order for them to get a house and possibly get married, Jurgis’ wife, Ona, has to also get a job. The immigrant women were also a major part of the workforce in the immigrant factories. Along with taking care of children women would work in sewing factories for a small six to seven dollar weekly wage for the same amount of hours that a man would work. These sewing factories were just as dangerous as any other factory with over crowded shops, filled machines that would often injure and possibly kill these ladies.
Many of these ladies when they became pregnant, quite possibly, would have to return to work only a week after giving birth in order to retain their jobs. “This was more cruel yet for Ona, who ought to have stayed home and nursed him, the doctor said, for her own health as well as the baby’s; but Ona had to go to work. ”(Sinclair 107) In The Jungle, Ona becomes pregnant and does return to work only a week, leaving her with a fragile body that has not completely healed.
She loses her job and goes into the last resort of prostitution which many of progressive ladies resorted to in order to beat the capitalistic society that they thought their dreams were made of. The result of the women suffrage and forced prostitution in the early nineteen hundreds led to the creation of the New York State Factory Investigation Commission (FIC) setting the standard for factories to limit hours that women could work in the factories and make safer working conditions.
The FIC not only helped out the women at the turn of the century but also made the lives of many children better. The children before the time of the FIC also had many hardships to deal with. Although being illegal for children under the age of sixteen to work many families in order to survive in the industrial jungle of America. Immigrant families often lied about their children’s age to get them out of schools and into the workplace. “The law made no difference except that it forced people to lie about the ages of their children.
”(Sinclair 68) This was often necessary for families to put their children through the industrial monster of big business in order to possibly have a chance at their own American dream of opportunities. The children often worked in the same hazardous places that the adult men and women would work. The conditions of these factories were grotesque. Fertilizer plants were unsafe with many of the workers possibly falling into the machines and would end up themselves part of the fertilizer.
When Sinclair wrote The Jungle, he said that he was writing the novel to touch the American heart but in society actually reading his novel he hit their stomachs more than anything. Through Sinclair’s muckraking tactics in exposing the unethical ways of the meat packing industry he showed how “meat so spoiled it could not be used for anything else”(133) it would be used to make sausage and how the rat problem was so bad that when they died from poisoned bread “the rats and the poisoned bread along with the meat would be put in the hoppers together.
”(135) After the publication of Sinclair’s all to real novel, the American public as well as the government would take part in investigating the meat packing industry. Directly related to the stories told in The Jungle, President Roosevelt declared the Meat Inspection Act which made the department of agriculture responsible for inspecting and labeling meat. One of the main reasons that there was corruption any way throughout these industries is the fact that they relied on a capitalistic way of business.
Capitalism was the way the businesses worked in which the companies would reap all of the profits while only paying the workers the bare minimum. The business controlled the economy and through social Darwinism or “survival of the fittest” the only people making any money were the business owners. Sinclair often refers to his trust in socialism and dislike of capitalism as a way of lowering the impact of social Darwinism and bring the economy back to the government and the government back to the people.
The debate of the capitalistic ways of the companies lead to many violent strikes that lead to distress between companies and its workers. Through the fighting and suffering of the early century immigrants of the progressive era we now have many laws and regulations that we all take for granted today. Sinclair through his writings in The Jungle has showed us that through the lives of Immigrant families what we may have had to live with if they did not go through the turmoil of capitalistic big business.
The laws and regulations set as a result of the suffrage in the progressive era and Sinclair’s muckraking make our lives much more enjoyable and healthier. Just imagine without the changes of early nineteenth century progressivism we to could be working eighty- four hour work- weeks and having diseased rats and meat for dinner. Bibliography : Bibliography 1. Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. New York: Bantam, 1906 2. Faragher, John. Out of Many: A History of American People. 3rd ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2001