A Symbol of Division and Exploitation

A New York Tenement House

"A New York Tenement House--The Home of the Rioters" (295)

Late 19th Century America was heavily divided by class and income. The Antebellum period had a similar problem, but the effect of the Civil War on the lower classes exacerbated the issue in post-war america. In "Riot and Respectability", Brian Laskey explains that America experienced a deepening of lines dividing classes "marked by intense industrialization and labor exploitation” (Laskey 63). This division was emphasized by phrases such as "dangerous classs" versus "respoctable" ones (Laskey 64). Insinuating that being poor meant you were shady or criminal. Whose who study class in American history "have long considered the Great Strike to be a prominent example of late nineteenth century class conflict between employers and workers” (Laskey 63). Working-class men, women, and children were exploited in almost every industry, but famously so in the railroad industry.

   When you first look at the book, it is obvious that it was meant for a wealthy person. This work was clearly meant for an elite upper class that is incapable of relating to the struggles of the rioting workers. The ornamented binding and state of the art illustrations prove that this book was unobtainable for the very people it is about. The book was not even sold in stores and could only be bought through an agent of the publisher. Because the book was published in the same year as the riots and uses many primary sources, there is no doubt that the information is at least mostly accurate. However, when you take into account the bibliographic factors, it is clear that the information inside has a bias against the rioters. The author and publisher used the struggle of these people for profit.