Friends and enemies: the impact of the 'labor problem' on political attitudes in America, 1919-1924

Bremner, Michael Wilson (1983) Friends and enemies: the impact of the 'labor problem' on political attitudes in America, 1919-1924. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the relationship of trade unions to
the American political system from 1919 to 1924. It does so by
Studying the state of industrial relations and the effects of
contemporary events on their conduct. The President's First Industrial
Conference is employed to examine the state of industrial relations at
the end of the First World War. Changes caused by the rise of the
Engineering movement, the Open Shop Campaign, the recession and
recovery and by successive crises are then traced to reveal the
nature of the problem with which politicians had to wrestle.
The rest of the thesis studies the response of Congress and the
administration of Wilson, Harding and Coolidge to what was known euphemistically as the 'labor problem' and analyses any trends in political outlook occasioned thereby. The research relied heavily on the private papers of contemporary politicians and official government,
business and union documents falling within the dates which delineate
the thesis and concentrates on the relationship aspect rather than
purely political or labour issues.
The thesis contributes to knowledge of the period by
emphasising the complexity of the political landscape. It
contributes to the understanding of trade unionism's role within
politics. The major themes are the continuing development of
progressivism during the early twenties, the consequent diminution
of the importance of traditional partisanship and the political
climate which resulted. The other major theme is the debate
among unionists regarding their movement's political implications
and the effect of this on the nature of unionism's relationship
with progressives.

The conclusions are that progressives remained a force in
these years and drifted leftwards as Progressives understood and
expounded the economic power struggle underlying industrial
disputes. Unionists had many friends; economic factors, not
political hostility, were its most damaging enemy. But the
friends and enemies policy submerged unionism's political identity,
hurting its own cause by contributing to the. ambivalence between
unionism and progressives and thus aggravating the political
confusion between 1919 and 1924.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: E History America > E11 America (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Supervisor, not known
Date of Award: 1983
Depositing User: Miss Louise Annan
Unique ID: glathesis:1983-6566
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2015 08:28
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2015 10:21
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/6566

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