What did freedom and equality mean to workers in the US's new industrial economy during the mid 1870s?

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We cannot know exactly what freedom and equality meant to all workers during this time because we do not have access to their thoughts, but we can infer how they would have defined these things from the demands that led to the strikes of 1877 (since you have tagged the question with these strikes, I assume you are asking about them).

The major issues in these strikes and others of the time were wages and the right to unionize.  From this, we can infer that the workers thought that these things were synonymous with freedom and equality.  We can say that the workers thought that equality meant being treated with respect and being paid a fair wage.  We can say that freedom was defined as the freedom to join unions and, thereby, to fight for better working conditions and wages.

 

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