INDUSTRIALIZATION AND THE “GILDED AGE”. THE BIG QUESTIONS. What factors encouraged American economic growth in the decades after the Civil War? How did workers fare in the new industrial America? Could workers have improved their working conditions without organizing labor unions?
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What factors encouraged American economic growth in the decades after the Civil War?
How did workers fare in the new industrial America?
Could workers have improved their working conditions without organizing labor unions?
How did industrialization bring both positive and negative changes?
You learned about the Industrial Revolution in World History last year, its beginnings in Great Britain, and the results of industrialization on society
American industrialization proceeded at a rapid pace in the decades following the Civil War. Some people consider this period America’s “Second Industrial Revolution.”
The United States soon became a world leader in industry
Steam and electricity replaced human and animal strength
Iron replaced wood, and steel replaced iron (The Bessemer process made steel production more economical)
Steam power drove textile mills and depended on coal
Petroleum products were used in lighting and machine lubrication
The internal combustion engine used gasoline from oil to run cars and the first airplanes
After the Civil War, work began on the Transcontinental Railroad
Many workers on the California side were Chinese immigrants
Finally connected in 1869 at Promontory Point, Utah
Trunk lines were soon built to connect to the main transcontinental line, and additional new tracks were laid throughout North America
Railroads, canals, telegraphs and telephones linked together different parts of the country
Shipping was less expensive (improved transportation)
Goods were cheaper (less expensive and quicker to produce)
New methods of selling were developed (department stores, chain stores, mail-order)
Manufacturers advertised in magazines and newspapers in order to sell goods throughout the country
Between 1850 and 1900 the population more than tripled
Fueled by high birthrate and a constant stream of European immigrants
Created favorable conditions for business expansion
Placed increasing demands on the natural environment and resources
Corporations became common
Corporations issue shares to investors (stocks)
Shareholders are partial owners
More stock = larger share = more dividends ($)
By people pooling money, companies could raise vast sums of money needed to fund industries
Corporations made industrial production possible
An entrepreneur is a person who starts a business in the hope of making a profit
They were able to reap huge profits and create great personal wealth
Many became known as “Captains of Industry” as they forged the modern industrial economy
Critics called the “robber barons” because many used ruthless tactics to destroy competition and keep worker’s wages low
In 1873, America experienced a depression. Larger corporations began driving smaller companies out of business, hoping to establish monopolies.
At first government did little to regulate big business
Believed in laissez-faire (gov’t. should not interfere in the free market)
Even under laissez-faire, gov’t. protects property, enforces contracts, issues patents, and enacts tariffs
Reformers called for legislation to remedy some of the anti-competitive practices of big business
Interstate Commerce Act (1887) – prohibited unfair practices by railroads, such as charging higher rates for shorter routes. Provided for the Interstate Commerce Commission to enforce the act. This was the first time Congress stepped in to regulate business in America.
Sherman Anti-Trust Act (1890) – stopped monopolies engaging in unfair practices that prevented fair competition. Showed a significant change in the attitude of Congress toward abuses of big business
Long hours & low wages (10-14 hr. days; 6 days a week; $3-12 weekly; immigrants, women, and children lowest paid)
Poor conditions, boring and repetitive tasks
Work became less skilled, repetitive, monotonous, and boring
Hazardous conditions (inadequate safety – thousands killed or injured in accidents each year)
Child labor (1/5 of children under 15 worked in 1910)
No job security or benefits
Early on, government was critical of the labor movement
Business leaders contributed heavily to political campaigns and politicians saw business as being responsible for American prosperity and worker demands as greedy
Feared disruptive effects of strikes would hurt the economy (sometimes used troops to put down strikes)
Public opinion also supported laissez-faire and thought wage demands would increase prices and violence and radical ideas would increase