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THE RISE OF INDUSTRIAL AMERICA: The Gilded Age. Mr. Phipps U.S. History. California State Standards.

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california state standards
California State Standards

11.1.4. Examine the effects of the Civil War and Reconstruction and of the industrial revolution, including demographic shifts and the emergence in the late nineteenth century of the United States as a world power.

11.2 Students analyze the relationship among the rise of industrialization, large-scale rural-to-urban migration, and massive immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe.

11.2.1. Know the effects of industrialization on living and working conditions, including the portrayal of working conditions and food safety in Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.

11.2.2. Describe the changing landscape, including the growth of cities linked by industry and trade, and the development of cities divided according to race, ethnicity, and class.

11.2.4. Analyze the effect of urban political machines and responses to them by immigrants and middle-class reformers.

11.2.5. Discuss corporate mergers that produced trusts and cartels and the economic and political policies of industrial leaders.

11.2.6. Trace the economic development of the United States and its emergence as a major industrial power, including its gains from trade and the advantages of its physical geography.

era characteristics
Era Characteristics
  • Strong and rapid growth of industry, mass production, mechanization, and the factory system
  • Consolidation of wealth and creation of an American aristocracy
  • Political and corporate corruption and laissez-faire/hands off approach to government involvement
  • Exploitation of cheap, immigrant labor
  • The creation of the American city and the expansion and urbanization of the West
  • Rapid population growth (natural and migratory)
  • Increased social, racial, and labor tension
  • The beginning of social, political, and labor reform movements
  • Laissez-faire: “Hands-off”, the idea that government should not be involved in business or regulation
  • Mechanization: The use of factory machines for mass production
  • Infrastructure: The “skeleton” of a country, referring to transportation (railroads, roads, canals), the postal service, tax collection, ability to vote, civil protection, sewage treatment, etc
  • Free Enterprise: a.k.a. “Capitalism” The idea that society benefits from free competition in the market price, yielding individual profit, a better/cheaper product, and wide availability of goods
  • Spoils System: Corruption in government, where a person in authority (i.e., the President) rewards friends with special privileges and political positions
  • Political Machines: Corrupt mafia-like organizations which sold votes for rewards and ran the cities corruptly
  • 1820-1860: Period of Manifest Destiny
    • Territorial expansion, extension of slavery
  • 1861-1865: American Civil War
    • Fought over states’ rights, control of industry, and slavery
  • 1865-1877: Period of Reconstruction
    • Reunify the U.S., aid Freedmen, extend railroad
  • 1866-1898: Period of the Gilded Age
    • Growth of industry, unchecked immigration, political corruption
the gilded age system
The Gilded Age System




why america
Why America?
  • Large tracts of open land
  • Abundance of natural resources
  • Excellent soil
  • “Can do” attitude
  • Eager population
  • A government that encouraged rugged individualism and free enterprise
the gilded age
The Gilded Age?
  • Termed by Mark Twain satirizing the period
    • Claimed that the period was not as wealthy as it looked
  • Political parties were the same: laissez-faire and corrupt
  • Political offices given through spoils system
  • Local government run by political bosses
political scandal
Political Scandal

Federal government known for constant scandal

  • Credit Mobilier Scandal
    • Pres. Grant ignored a private contract to a railroad company, V.P. made a ton of money
  • Whiskey Ring
    • Cabinet stole money from whiskey excise tax
    • Sec. of War sold junk to Indians for profit
  • Panic of 1873
    • Economic depression due to over-speculation in industry and inflation
  • Pres. Garfield assassinated by office-seeker

Cartoon from Puck: “Bosses of the Senate”

the influence of business
The Influence of Business
  • Powerful individuals forced and intimidated Americans and politicians
  • Used tactics similar to mafia
  • Targeted immigrants for labor exploitation and votes
  • Used bribery, violence, and extortion to get job done
political bosses
Political Bosses
  • Ran local business and politics
  • Forced immigrants to vote for specific candidates in exchange for citizenship
  • Forced lower class to pay “protection” money
  • Stole money from city coffers through extortion, graft, bribes, private contracts, and misallocation of funds
  • Most famous political bosses were in the biggest cities (i.e., Boss) William Tweed of NYC

Political bosses cartoon by Thomas Nast


The New York Solar System: Boss Richard Croker of NYC. Croker organized NYC politics for nearly twenty years. It was nearly impossible to win an election without his support: local or national.

the titans of business
The Titans of Business
  • Private investors and businessmen contributed money to elections and campaigns in exchange for a “hands off” approach
  • Emphasis on business and making money over reform
the men
The Men
  • The Titans
    • J.D. Rockefellar--Standard Oil
    • J.P. Morgan--Investment banking and financier
    • Andrew Carnegie--U.S. Steel
    • Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, and Jay Fiske--Railroads
in sum
In Sum
  • Local and federal politics were influenced by business leaders and political bosses
  • Few Americans believed that the federal government would positively affect their lives and improve their future
  • The “democratic” process did not reflect the diversity of beliefs, peoples, and classes in the U.S.