Freedom: A History of US.
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Webisode 10: Yearning to Breathe Free
Introduction Segment 1 Segment 2 Segment 3 Segment 4 Segment 5 Segment 6 Segment 7 Segment 8

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Mother Jones
Segment 2
Mother Jones in her later years Telling It Like It Is

Most Americans in the Gilded Age were better off than people anywhere ever before. See It Now - New York Street Scene They were buying sewing machines, kitchen appliances, and factory-made furniture and clothing. Some working people were enjoying a luxury that only the rich had enjoyed: See It Now - Ice Skaters leisure time. They were going to ball games, and riding bicycles, and a few were even playing tennis. But others were left out. They worked long hours for little money and had no time for play. Some were children and they worked twelve or fourteen hours a day. See It Now - Child Laborer A tiny, feisty, white-haired woman named Mary Harris Jones decided she was going to do something about it. See It Now - Mother Jones

Mrs. Jones had four boys, and they got malaria. In those days before modern medicine there wasn't much anyone could do. All four boys died. Then her husband died. So Mary Jones moved to Chicago and opened a sewing business. But in 1871 Chicago had a great fire, and Mrs. Jones's sewing shop burned along with most of the city. Mary Jones had nothing left. She decided she would start over again and do something important with her life. She would help children who needed help. See It Now - "Breaker Boys Working In Ewen Breaker" She introduced little James Ashworth and Gussie Rangnew to a group of prosperous New Yorkers. James's back was bent from carrying heavy loads. See It Now - Coal Miner Boy "Here's a textbook case in economics," Mary said. "He gets three dollars a week working in a carpet factory ten hours a day. And this is Gussie Rangnew, a little girl from whom all the childhood is gone." Gussie, whose tired face was like an old woman's, packed stockings all day long, day after day, summer, winter, spring, and fall. The prosperous New Yorkers were moved to tears.

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Did You Know?
Journalists who wrote about the problems of unregulated business were called "muckrakers."

Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?

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