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The Rise of Big Business. Henry Bessemer. 1850’s – Henry Bessemer creates the Bessemer Process – allowed manufacturers to make steel much quicker and more efficiently This allowed for faster expansion of railroads & more construction of buildings. Andrew Carnegie.

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The Rise of Big Business

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The Rise of Big Business


Henry Bessemer

  • 1850’s – Henry Bessemer creates the Bessemer Process – allowed manufacturers to make steel much quicker and more efficiently

  • This allowed for faster expansion of railroads & more construction of buildings


Andrew Carnegie

  • Andrew Carnegie – he and his company dominated the steel industry *Video 203*

  • Used a philosophy known as vertical integration – owns not only the company that produces goods, but also the companies that provide the materials needed


Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth

  • Carnegie owned the steel mills, the iron ore and coal mines, and the railroads/ships that transported the coal and iron

  • Through this, Carnegie created a monopoly – exclusive control over the supply of a particular product without competition

  • Despite being a powerful businessman, Carnegie donated much of his wealth to the public causes

    • Gospel of Wealth – believed that it was the responsibility of the wealthy to make sure their money was put to good use helping others


Edwin L. Drake

  • 1859 – Edwin L. Drake – conductor of a New Haven railroad

  • Successfully drilled for oil in western Pennsylvania


John D. Rockefeller

  • John D. Rockefeller – became one of the nation’s richest and most powerful businessmen

  • He created a company, Standard Oil which became the nation’s first trust

    • Trust – a business arrangement under which a number of companies unite into one system

  • Allowed Rockefeller to dictate prices, eliminate competition, and control the oil industry


Cornelius Vanderbilt

  • Cornelius Vanderbilt – in 1869 he extended a railroad from New York to Chicago

  • Revolutionized the railroad industry to move faster and easier for passengers


J.P. Morgan

  • As US business grew, there came the birth of the finance capitalist – bankers who handled stocks and bonds of businesses

  • J.P. Morgan – most powerful and influential finance capitalist

  • 1913 – worth over 22 billion

  • Became so rich he eventually purchased Carnegie’s steel company and renamed it US Steel

    *video 204*


George Westinghouse

  • George Westinghouse – made a significant impact in the field of electricity

  • Founder of Westinghouse Electric Company – used a transformer that enabled electricity to be transmitted further distances


The Idea of Social Darwinism

  • Mid-1800’s – Herbert Spencer – political theorist introduced the idea of Social Darwinism

    • Belief that life is a battle and it is “survival of the fittest.”

  • This idea was appealing to business leaders who placed their faith in laissez-faire capitalism – belief that the government should not interfere with the market or regulate business

    • They believed that only the strongest businesses would make it and letting them survive was of benefit to the consumer as well as the businessman


Social Darwinism Cartoon


Horatio Alger

  • People in society had great respect for these businessmen

  • People began to believe that anyone could make it and “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”

  • Horatio Alger – his children books expressed characters who left poverty for success through hard work and diligence versus inherited social status

  • Most famous of these stories – Ragged Dick


The Gilded Age

  • Not everyone however felt that this rise of Big Business was as great as it appeared

  • Many felt that the wealthy continued to get rich at the expense of the working class

  • Mark Twain – famous author who coined the phrase known as the Gilded Age

    • Period between 1877 and early 1900’s – comes from the idea that a thin layer of wealth was covering the overwhelming amounts of poverty


Mark Twain Picture


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