Outline The “Gilded Age” Corporate Structures Businesses and Technology Social Darwinism & Laissez Faire Labor and urbanization Immigration and “National Culture”
“The Gilded Age” Cheap plastic painted gold Anti-competition & monopoly No government “Laissez Faire” Anti-union “Strikes vs. Lockouts” No liability, regulation –Corruption!!
Industry & Mechanization Rise of Factories Mass production –Bessemer Process Low wages –Exploitation of women, children, immigrants De-skilled labor –Work anyone could do Technology –Innovations, Inventions
Corporations Monopolies – What are they? –Control supply of a particular product –Set prices (supply and demand) –Laissez Faire industrialization
Corporations High fixed costs –Expensive to build and maintain factory Low operating cost –Wages This enabled corporations to stay open during slow economic times! Produce more goods at lower costs Very efficient! Invest in machinery, etc.
The Railroad Vanderbilt’s industry –Government gave land grants Encourage rapid construction RR’s allowed to sell land to raise $$ for construction Leads to scandals!! –Credit Mobilier Company set up by Union Pacific overcharged itself for construction Paid members of Congress for more land grants!
Standard Oil Rockefeller –Discovered that refining oil was more profitable than finding it –Used HORIZONTAL integration to create a Monopoly By 1880’s, he owned 90% of all oil refineries in U.S. Made $1.5 Billion by any means necessary
Carnegie’s US Steel Andrew Carnegie: U.S. Steel (1870s)Andrew Carnegie: U.S. Steel (1870s) VERTICAL integrationVERTICAL integration Bought all of the mines, quarries, Shipping companies, mills Created a monopoly
Laissez Faire “Free markets” = no government intervention Prices set based on Consumer demand Competition creates innovation and keeps prices low Monopolies eliminated competition to keep prices high sometimes, low other times
Laissez Faire No government regulation except to protect property rights and maintain peace. Let Supply and Demand regulate prices –If monopolies control supply, then they can fix prices, right?
Social Darwinism Herbert Spencer Distorted Charles Darwin’s “natural selection” and “survival of the fittest” Social & economic system was natural Poor were naturally poor, rich were naturally rich No gov’t intervention (Laissez Faire!)
Problems with Philosophy Tariffs (high taxes on imported goods) Railroad Land Grants ( Who’s controlling the grants ) Laws written for & by rich elite men (bribery scandals galore) Force used to benefit corporations No competition –It’s not my fault I’m a billionaire, I’m just the strongest to survive the game
Survival of the fittest So don’t tell me how much I can pay my Employees, don’t tell me how much I should Sell my product for, and don’t tell me that I can’t eliminate the competition! I am the WINNER!!!
Technological Innovations Alexander Graham Bell, 1876 Thomas A. Edison (phonograph) 1877 –Electric light bulb 1879 Pressure sealed tin cans Bessemer Process, steel Replace workers with technology
Thomas Edison & Alexander Bell Light bulb Telephone
Urbanization Growth of industries concentrated people & power in cities Industrialization pulled people off the land Technological advances: elevators, sewage, piped water, electricity, subways, electric streetcar (1888), refrigeration increased urbanization
Cities and Populations New York (40%) Chicago (42%) San Fran (45%) El Paso (31%) Foreign Born
City Life Fast Growth Few social services or regulations Tenement buildings Settlement Houses Multicultural & ethnically organized
Immigration and National Culture 1870-1910, 20 million immigrants Southern & eastern Europe Culture, language, religion, ethnicity Chinese, Japanese, Mexicans Chain Migration Assimilation stripped people of their cultures, attacked diversity, and tried to make them into WASPs
Immigrant Life Ethnic enclaves –Immigrants felt more comfortable in their own “towns” Little Italy, Chinatown, etc. Employment –Industrialists exploit them –Pay them much less than American’s
Urban Life Tenements –Low income housing –Creation of lower classes –Living conditions were just as bad as working conditions –Several families living in small tenements –Couldn’t afford rent on wages –Terrible situation
Chinese Immigration 1870: 63,000 Chinese, most in CAL 22% in Idaho 1930: 470,000 in U.S 90% in West Railroads, mining, service sector of cities
Working Conditions Terrible –Dangerous, unhealthy environments –Workers breathed in lint, dust, toxic fumes –Dull, repetitive tasks (led to inattentiveness and injuries) –Dangerous machines with no safety regulations
Unions Organized workers in a particular craft to ensure better working conditions –Pipefitters, Electricians, steel workers, etc. Organized strikes for better wages –Strikes usually met with violence –Owners would “lock out” workers, hire new ones
Unions Immigrants were flooding the U.S. –Many joining unions –Marxists and anarchists –Unions associated with “radical European ideas”
Strikes Railroad Strike 1873 –Workers wanted more pay, troops sent in, 12 days later, 100 people dead Haymarket riot –Workers wanted 8 hour days, troops called in, bomb goes off, 170 injured 10 police dead Pullman Strike –Employees had to live in Pullman apartments, shop only at Pullman stores. Wages cut, employees strike, troops called in, boycott halted, gave industrialists advantage.
Nativism Anti-immigrant fears –Because of these strikes –Because of massive amounts of immigrants –1882 Chinese Exclusion Act Violence towards immigrants –They’re just trying to survive, right?