The 4th of July, America’s birthday, is a time for celebration and reflection. A look back to the beginning of the 20th century provides us with a measure of how far we have progressed up to now. Unregulated big business dominated American life at the beginning of the 20th century. Capitalists like Vanderbilt, Rockefeller and Hurst amassed great wealth and built themselves palatial homes. Average Americans struggled to pay for housing and put food on the table. The poor made up the largest class of society.
The goal of big business was to accumulate the greatest possible profit. In 1900, the beginning of the 20th century, unions were very weak. Workers labored for low wages. Environmental concerns and safety standards were sacrificed to enhancing the wealth and power of corporations. Teaching was a lowly, poor paying, profession.