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That depends upon which era you are talking about.


The earliest labor unions go back to the 1830s when "mechanics" banded and the women of New Hampshire and Massachusetts sporadically banded together. They plight was usually over working conditions and seldom about pay.

Early post civil war farmers of the plains banded into the Grangers, more a brotherhood than a union, but still worked in common cause, keeping the plains open, not barbed wired.

In the early 1870s the Knights of Labor was founded to provide skilled laborers with a platform to address grievances against particular mills. This too was general over working condition but wages did occasionally enter in.

In the 1880s and 1890s the United Mine Workers, an independent union. always struck over working conditions in the mines, too many explosions, cave-ins and other hazards. They almost always lost by-the-way.

In the early 20th century the focus turned to number of hours worked and wages, almost as a single issue. This was handled by the recently formed American Federal of Labor, AFL, but only for skilled laborers. The Industrial Workers of the World, I.W.W., a socialist group, took on the plight on unskilled laborers but took on skilled laborers as well. At that time mill operatives were expected to work upwards of 60 hours a week at 7 cents an hour and had no expectation of job security. Also, and depending upon the state, children as young as 8 were employed in mills and required to do dangerous jobs.

The 40 hour work week is the result of labor strikes in the 1910s, as were the child labor laws. Children under 14 not allowed to work.

Most of the early 1920s forward and to the 1970s strikes were over wages and benefits.




People in the 1700s loved tea. A lot. And the best tea was grown in India, which happened to be a British colony.

England set up a company, called the British East India Company, to grow and ship tea to Britain so that taxes could be paid on the tea.

But not all of the tea was consumed in Great Britain - some was shipped to the 13 colonies where is was sold and tax paid.

So the tea that was being drunk in the 13 colonies was shipped from India, sold and taxed (in England), then sold and taxed again (in North America) before a colonist could drink it. All of the extra transportation costs, plus the double round of taxes, made the tea expensive.

And so the colonists drank a lot of tea that wasn't purchased from British - instead, merchants were buying it from the Dutch. And because the Dutch tea wasn't being double-shipped and taxed, it was cheaper. It wasn't as good, but it was good enough. But the British didn't like the fact that the colonists weren't buying as much English tea as they should be, so they considered the Dutch tea to be "smuggled".

It's no wonder that the British were upset - 900,000 pounds of "smuggled" tea was imported into the colonies every year, while only 562,000 pounds of English tea was imported every year. So much tea was "smuggled" in that the British East India Company had huge warehouses full of tea intended for the colonies but they weren't buying because instead they were buying the cheap stuff.

So the British government passed a law - the Tea Act of 1773. What it did was to allow the British East India Company to ship tea directly to the colonies from India, which would eliminate the middleman and get rid of one layer of taxation, and would thus reduce the cost of English tea to be below even that of the smuggled Dutch tea. So everybody should be happy - the colonists get their favourite tea at a low price, the British East India Company doesn't have warehouses full of tea that is rotting and they can't sell, and the British government still gets tax money. Every one wins, right?!?!?!

Wrong. The colonists had long held that they shouldn't be taxed without representation - it was a matter that had come up again and again as England sought tax money to pay for the stationing of troops in the colonies (which the colonies didn't want) to help with the protection of them from Native Americans (which the colonists said they didn't need). England would pass a tax, the colonists would avoid paying or pressure those who collected the tax to resign, and England would repeal the tax.

And so this new scheme - to sell cheap English tea to the colonists, on which tax would still be collected, was too much to bear for some of the colonists - they saw that England would feel that a tax was being collected successfully and might just pass more taxes that way.

To prevent that, protesters targeted the 4 ports the tea arrived in: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston. In all but Boston, the importers caved to the demands of the protesters, so the tea was either sent back or left to rot on the dock, both with no tax paid. In Boston, the importer refused to heed the protesters' demands and allowed the ships to dock with the intent of selling it. That's when the 100 or so protesters, dressed as Mohicans, threw over 500 chests of tea, 90,000 pounds, overboard.

The British government was quite upset that this happened and passed several laws in retaliation for the Boston Tea Party, including closing Boston Harbour until the tax was paid, which angered the colonists, and which brought both sides one step closer to the American Revolution.



It was the battle where the USA went from being on defence onto offence in the Pacific theatre.


Japanese expansion into the Pacific had begun long before the US entered WW2 (the late 1930s for the Japanese whereas it wasn't until 1941 that the US entered the war, primarily due to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbour). They had two reasons for this expansion: to collect necessary resources for their continuing war effort, and to create a large defensible boundary by occupying and fortifying islands.

Phase 1 of that strategy was completed relatively easily - the US wasn't in the war yet and seemed to show little signs of getting ready to do so (although it was helping its allies England, France, and Russia in their wars against Japan's allies - the Axis powers - of Germany and Italy) and also was helping in China's efforts to resist Japan's invasion.

As Japan continued to expand further and further into the Pacific, it wanted certainty that the US would be unable to interfere with its plans, and so it attacked Pearl Harbour. In that attack, a big part of the US fleet was destroyed (including essentially all of their battleships). Japan continued expanding, the US entered the war, and the Pacific Fleet, or what was left of it, began trying to prevent further Japanese expansion.

One side note response (and on the surface quite foolhardy) to the attack on Pearly Harbour that turned out to be quite important was a raid by James "Jimmy" Doolittle in April 1942. Sixteen medium bombers set off to bomb Tokyo with no fighter escort, not enough fuel to get home, and no real plan to do so. It was, in essence, a suicide mission that was designed to be a morale boost for the US by bombing a city thought unreachable by bombers. Doolittle did indeed bomb Japan (the raid did little more than minor damage) with his 16 bombers - 15 of which crashed in China and the 16th that successfully landed in Russia (where the crew was immediately interned and the aircraft confiscated). Fourteen complete crews made it back to the US.

The reason why this raid was so important was for its symbolic meaning - the US could bomb Japan, something the Japanese populace had not thought possible. And so demands grew for an extended zone of protection so that bombers would never again reach Japan.


The Japanese decided to set a trap for the remaining American fleet at Midway. The plan itself was pretty straightforward - send bombers from the four Japanese carriers to bomb the island. The Americans, who consider the island strategically critical, would rush up to defend it. Then other elements of the Japanese navy, that were scattered a few hundreds of miles away, would swoop in and destroy what Japanese air power couldn't.

Simple. Except for a couple of things. One was that the battle plan was written as an enormously complex plan that depended on hundreds of little details going exactly right. Another was that ships and men were fatigued from years of fighting. Yet another was that the plan was rushed so that parts of the plan didn't even have a chance to work right.

The last thing, and perhaps the biggest thing, was that the Americans had figured out a part of the Japanese code - meaning that, in this case, they knew there was going to be an ambush somewhere (known only as location AF) but they didn't know where AF was. A member of the intelligence team guessed it was Midway and a plan was put together to confirm. The team broadcast through an unsecured radio channel on Midway that the water purifiers were broken - and the Japanese began chatting about it on secured channels that location AF was out of water.

The Americans knew where and when the ambush was going to be. Now all they needed was luck. Which they got in the form of weather.

The battle spread over June 4-7, 1942 and it was cloudy at the start. The Japanese sent half their aircraft to bomb Midway and the other half were left on deck, ready to attach the American navy, and a few scout planes were sent to look for the Americans - but they never got a good look.

The Americans, for their part, also couldn't find the Japanese fleet despite have many scouts looking. The launch of aircraft off the carriers was slow and inefficient and meant that different aircraft types, instead of flying together and helping each other, were flying separately and many were easy targets of Japanese fighters. But luck played a part - an American scout plane found the Japanese fleet and radioed it in.

Wave after wave of American planes flew in to attack the Japanese - the first waves being easily picked off by Japanese fighters. But as the strike aircraft made their way back to land on Japanese carriers and to refuel and rearm (with gas lines full of fuel on deck and armaments stacked up on deck), with Japanese fighters out of position and low on fuel, waves of torpedo bombers destroyed three Japanese carriers.

The Japanese counterattacked and the Americans counterattacked that, but the real damage was done in that first big part of the battle.

The loss was a blow and an embarrassment to the Japanese - only the High Command knew about the extent of the loss and the public was told it was a great victory. Japanese tactics changed from being very aggressive and confident in their military engagements to trying to minimize their losses - so that their big ships would run rather than fight big battles.

The Americans gained new confidence in their naval air power and developed tactics that enhanced this focus and they also developed new training programs to make air more flexible and faster at dealing with threats.



I presume you are asking about earlier times (late 1700s to late 1800s) as opposed to modern time situations;

Women formed labor unions and went on strikes, determined for better working rights for women.


Labor unions are groups or association of workers that were created specifically to protect their rights.

Women made many labor unions in the 1800s, when the Industrial Revolution was a prominent era and factories, mills, and other businesses opened up. Women were seen as inferior and not capable of carrying out tasks.

A strike is a form of protest, usually when a band of workers refuse to do their job. These workers had hopes to gain rights or better working conditions.

Many women went on strikes. They organized themselves and demanded rights. They made it clear that while slavery was a major issue at the time, so were women's rights.

Women also held conventions and meetings to discuss and plan for the movement.

Women spoke out confidently about their conditions and got many men to follow and support them as well. They held meetings as a way to spread their ideas. One famous convention, the Seneca Falls Convention, was the first women's rights convention.

From the simple idea to improve working conditions, women and men increased their motives and demanded better general rights for women. These included social and civil rights, including the right to vote, or suffrage. The movement expanded and soon many people agreed. Famous women who took the movement seriously and spoke out are remembered for their hope and bravery.


The Patriots and Loyalists; Patriots favored independence and Loyalists favored staying as a British colony.


Tensions were simmering prior to the start of the Revolution, and the Declaration of Independence, signed in 1776 formally broadcasted to all that the United States was a new and independent nation. This led to two factions being formed: Patriots and Loyalists.

Patriots believed that the United States should be an independent nation separate from Britain. They felt that they were being treated unfairly as a colony and that their basic rights were being trampled upon. It was their view that the time for compromises was over and that the colonies needed to leave the British Empire.

Loyalists thought that the colonies were better off staying with England. Some did this out of loyalty for the king, but others feared instability and anarchy in the event of a change in government. In addition, many feared that the economic fallout with the mother country would destabilize the American economy.

All in all, these were the two groups that were formed, and as you know, the Patriots emerged as successful and formed a new nation.


Bunker Hill


Though Lexington and Concord came first, they were merely skirmishes. The first Battle of the Revolution was the battle of Bunker Hill, which was fought on Breed's Hill outside Boston on June 17, 1775. Confusion caused it to be named after Bunker Hill, which is where the colonists had some reserve troops.

The British were in Boston and the colonists held positions outside the city. On the night of June 17, 1775, some 1,200 colonists under William Prescott moved onto Breed's Hill and threw up earthworks.

In the morning, the British commander Lord Howe decided to attack. He did this in the proscribed method of the times--full frontal assault. Howe and most British leaders believed the colonists would break and run at the first sign of an attack.

Howe attacked the hill two times, and each time he was forced to fall back with heavy casualties. During his third assault, the colonists ran out of ammunition and were forced to fall back.

The British claimed victory as they held the hill at battle's end, but it was a moral victory for the colonists. It showed they could stand up to the British.

Joseph Warren, an early colonial leader was killed at this battle. Had he lived, he would be remembered today as one of the greatest of the Founding Fathers. Unfortunately, his early death in the war has left him all but forgotten.

Bunker Hill was one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolution.

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