After the Civil war in the United States, Corporations grew significantly in number, size, and influence between the 1870s and 1900s. Big business impacted America’s economy, politics and as well as the Americans responses to these changes. Big business began when entrepreneurs in search for wealth and success combined their business into massive corporations. Vertical and horizontal integration were tactics used to make business grow faster. Vertical integration is the acquiring of material from the bottom up for means of production, for example Carnegie used this strategy. Horizontal integration is the controlling of other companies that produce the same product, which Rockefeller used.
The corporations were so large that they could and some did, force out the competition which resulted them in gaining control of that particular market. This allowed corporations to set the prices they desired, which affected the consumers pocket as that was the only place they could obtain the product or good from. Business men who ran these large industries became extremely wealthy, powerful and influential, often at the expense of many poor workers, and much of the public saw them as robber barons who exploited workers, in order to accumulate immense fortunes.
For example, in 1882 Rockefeller solidifies his control by establishing a monopoly or trust, which centralized control of a number of oil related companies under one board of trustee. By 1879, Rockefeller controlled 90% of the county’s oil capacity. As a result of this, companies in other industries quickly imitated this trust model and used their broad market control to raise prices. Also in document A, statistics are shown of the index prices to the average prices during a certain period of time and it is evident that as the years progressed, the cost for food, fuel and lighting decreased significantly but the cost of living of also decreased but not to the degree of the above mentioned. Trusts were a common way to force out the competition and control a market in the 1800s. Big business also impacted America politically as seen on document D. This political cartoon shows wealthy industrial owners, which are taking up most of the space in the US senate and are coming in from a door that is labeled “Entrance for monopolist” and all the trusts are lines up to enter.
Also, in the left corner there is a door labeled “People’s entrance” that had a “closed” hanging from it, which clearly shows that the people do not have a say in the senate. This means that industries have a great amount of power in the senate as well as a big impact politically. Also in document B, from George E. McNeill, a labor leader, is a short passage about “The problem of today” in 1887. He starts out explains how the railroad president holds so much power that it is almost as if he were the king of the railroad. The article states that the railroad king collects his tithes, which is the 1/10th annual income given to clergy and to support the church, by lowering the worker’s wages. He also has the power to fire anyone, take away their income, delay trial on a suit at law, and postpone judgment indefinitely.
This shows the amount of power in his hands, and how he has a say in politics and court. At the end, McNeill states, “In his right hand he holds the government; in his left hand, the people” to show the sense of control he has in both areas and the degree of his influence on both, the people, and his government. American’s responses to the growing corporations were evident in document C. In this document David A. Wells claims that individualism or independence of the producer in manufacturing has been in great degree destroyed as well as the pride workmen took in their work. Also, he says modern manufacturing systems have been brought into a condition similar of that of a military organization.
This shows the rigidness of the bosses and the demand for their work to be perfect. It is also mentioned in this document that as a rule, workers are only good for one thing, and then are useless once there is no more work of that kind. Lastly, the works are no longer independent. But depend and have to obey rules to keep progressing. In document E, by Andrew Carnegie, he states that to set an example of modest he has to provide to those who depend on him. Andrew Carnegie of the steel industry donated much of his wealth to building libraries, schools, and universities to support the less fortunate or poor. The growth of corporations evidently impacted the economy and politics, as well as the American responses to these changes, in 1870-1900.
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