In the years 1865 to 1900 the United States had flourished in their industry business, giving the era the rightful name of the Industrial Revolution. During this time period thousands of submitted patents and successful inventions connected the country, brought life to cities and boosted both the Northern and Southern economy post-Civil War. This revolution made the rich like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie richer while the middle class workers like the new immigrants remained in poverty with terrible working condition.
This 35 year time frame was both prosperous for some while long and grueling for others. During the years following the Civil War corporations like the steel, oil and railway businesses were booming. Businessmen like the steel king Andrew Carnegie and oil king John D. Rockefeller began to take over all aspects of not only the industrial industry but also government branches like Congress. Carnegie expanded his industry using vertical integration, combining all aspects of the system from manufacturing to the market into one large organization under his name.
Carnegie’s miners mined the earth for valuable minerals to produce metal that was shipped across the lakes on Carnegie’s ships,to be delivered to employees from Carnegie’s railroad systems, to be turned into metal by his employees in Pittsburgh. This method also tied into his belief in social darwinism. Carnegie did believe in survival of the fittest and that the rich was more competent and educated than the poor, middle class but, he also believed in aiding the less fortunate in a non-direct way by”… bringing to their service his superior wisdom, experience and ability to administer… “(Doc 4).
In controlling multiple industries he provided the less fortunate with jobs and work experience, bettering them in a non-direct way. John D. Rockefeller on the other hand believed in boosting himself using horizontal integration, monopolizing the smaller businesses, expanding his industry further and further. Rockefeller once had monopolized almost 90% of the oil and oil refining businesses. He lowered his prices to attract a customer base slowly eliminating all of his competitors by either buying them out or forcing them out of business, to then jack up his prices once he owned most of the industry.
Because of his monopoly in the oil industry he and the railroad tycoon Vanderbilt were in league together giving “discriminating rates” to outside , small business competitors (Doc 7). In 1890 the Sherman Antitrust Act was passed to prohibit the rapidly growing monopolies. This law seemed to have no affect on the business tycoons due to their growing ties in government. The growing trend of Rockefeller,Carnegie and Vanderbilt’s monopolies in oil, steel and railway industries began to have unjust influences in the government, specifically congress (this is shown in in Doc 3 and image 7 of the political cartoon sheet).
Because of the laws lack of enforcement in government the rich became way more rich. Although they were at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, these growing industries were not the only aspects of manufacturing that was advancing. From 1860-1890 440,000 new patents were submitted spanning from the revolutionary technology of the telephone, stove, car, sewing machine and much more. These new inventions lead to the creation of new jobs and the rapid growth of cities.
The Southern cotton industry was booming due to the increased need for cotton thread in the northern textile mills. The increase in machinery and advanced technology also lowered the prices of food, lighting and fuel (Doc 1). Although the revolution brought about positive effect like more jobs and lowered prices on goods; it also brought about negative effects like overcrowding and poor conditions. Immigrants started to flood the cities in search for factory jobs resulting in areas with extremely high populations, overcrowded houses and poor sanitation.
Not only did the middle class factory workers have poor home conditions, they also underwent extremely poor working conditions. Both men and women factory workers worked in dim, dangerous factories for long, grueling days spanning up to 12 hours to be paid the bare minimum. Factory workers were not looked at like human beings by the big corporate business men; their lives did not matter to them at all. The only positive to come out of the extremely dangerous condition was the rise of unions.
Unions that formed during the Industrial Revolution were meant to unite the working men against the wrongdoings of the wealthy business owner. Unions demanded things like “… reduction of the hours of labor, which would give a due share of work and wages… insists upon the exercise of the right to organize for self and mutual protection… the lives and limbs of the wage-workers shall be regarded as sacred as those of all others… that an injury … of either by reason of negligence or maliciousness of another, shall not leave him without redress… (Doc 6). ”
Although the rise of nation wide unions like The National Labor Union and The Knights of Labor united many of the workers they proved to be ineffective. The big businessmen did not take them seriously. The wage-workers soon began to lose pride in the work they were doing. The deadly condition mixed with conditions similar to that of military organization lead to a lack of independence and the pride in what once use to be a special skill that was mastered through long and varied practice (Doc 2).
The 35 years between 1865-1900 was a period of major prosperity of the few fortunate like Rockefeller and Carnegie along with many other inventors. This era brought about life changing technologies that united the country in ways humans once thought was impossible. This time also brought poor home and working conditions for the less fortunate that consisted of the majority of the population. This time period known as the Industrial Revolution is one of the most important Revolutions in history.