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HIS271 The Gilded Age: Myths and Realities January 13th 2011
www.ilr.cornell.edu/trianglefire/
Period after Reconstruction, ending around 1890-1900
Themes of today: Industrialization, urbanization, immigration, nativism
Gilded Age: came from the title of a book called The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today
Excess, what is beautiful on the outside may not necessarily be beautiful on the
inside
Beyond the golden exterior of growth, the interior was ripe with inequality, poverty,
and social decay
Today: causes and consequences of this characterization by looking at the myths and
realities of the age
Big Business vs. Labour
Myths
The Self-Made Man
Rags-to-Riches
Individualism
Social Darwinism
Realities
Hardship
Workplace peril
Poverty
Dependence
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HIS271 The Gilded Age: Myths and Realities January 13th 2011
Big business success was built on their ability to consolidate and monopolize
Many of the businesses grew out of the new needs emerging at the turn of the
century
Sources of Growth
Railroads and Communications networks
Required more materials
Connected cities and towns
Urbanization
Required new materials
Massive influx of people moving to cities
Domestic markets
Population in 1870 was 40 million and grew by 20 million in 20 years
Demand for cheap and standardized products
Shifts in production and consumption
Raw materials
Technological innovations
Cash registers
Electricity
Bessemer Process
Industrial innovation
All of this made it possible to increase industrial production
Labour/Immigration
The robber barons
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HIS271 The Gilded Age: Myths and Realities January 13th 2011
Entrepreneurial men, cutthroat, who were the chief force behind big business
in America
Significant because they are the ones that embody the myths of the Gilded
Age
Biggest name in the steel business was Andrew Carnegie
He was originally from Scotland but arrived in the US in 1848
Found his way into the railroad industry
In 50 years he became the richest man in the world
He made shrewd investments, opened a steel works in Pittsburgh
His success depended on:
The Modern Corporation
Efficiency
Taylorism and Scientific Management
oTaylors goal was to better integrate the workforce with
machine-operated tools
oMaximize production at the lowest cost to maximize profit
Division of tasks and work place hierarchies
New management techniques
Cost-accounting
The introduction of middle-management
oMiddle management between the workers and the owners
Consolidation
Horizontal Integration
oRefers to the combining or merging of firms occupied in the
same business into a single large corporation
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Document Summary

gilded age: came from the title of a book called the gilded age: a tale of today. excess, what is beautiful on the outside may not necessarily be beautiful on the inside. beyond the golden exterior of growth, the interior was ripe with inequality, poverty, and social decay. Today: causes and consequences of this characterization by looking at the myths and realities of the age. big business success was built on their ability to consolidate and monopolize. many of the businesses grew out of the new needs emerging at the turn of the century: sources of growth. massive influx of people moving to cities. population in 1870 was 40 million and grew by 20 million in 20 years. all of this made it possible to increase industrial production. entrepreneurial men, cutthroat, who were the chief force behind big business in america.

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