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Jump Back in Time Reconstruction (1866-1877)
Occupational portrait of three railroad workers standing on crank handcar, between 1850 and 1860
Typical railroad workers like the ones who organized to demand an eight-hour workday and were involved in the Haymarket Riot

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"Steel-Driving Song" sung by a worker on the railroad recorded during the Depression Era

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National Labor Union Requested an Eight-Hour Workday
August 20, 1866

The result of the Haymarket Riot was that the eight-hour-workday movement came to be seen as "radical." Therefore, popular support for organized labor decreased. As the Knights of Labor declined, the American Federation of Labor rose. The Federation focused on protecting the independence and established privileges of individual unions.

Little progress was made in establishing an eight-hour workday until 1933. During this year, Congress passed the National Industrial Recovery Act, an emergency measure taken by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression. The Act provided for the establishment of maximum hours, minimum wages, and the right to collective bargaining (allowing unions to represent their members in negotiations with an employer). The Recovery Act was soon replaced by the Wagner Act, which assured workers the right to form unions. It was not until the 1950s that most workers gained the eight-hour workday. Do you know anyone who belongs to a union?

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CREDIT: "Occupational Portrait of Three Railroad Workers Standing on Crank Handcar." Between 1850 and 1860. America's First Look into the Camera: Daguerreotype Portraits and Views, 1842-1862, American Memory collections, Library of Congress.
AUDIO CREDIT: Truvillion, Henry, performer. "Steel-Driving Song." May 16, 1939. Southern Mosaic: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip, American Memory collections, Library of Congress.