HST 102 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Transcontinental Railroad, Expulsion Of The Acadians, Gilded Age

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6 Feb 2017

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All that glitters is not gold: America in the "Gilded Age"
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
10:30 AM
Post Civil War America
Mass dislocation and disruption after the Civil War
The war had brought significant changes to the American economy:
o Infrastructure
Transcontinental railroad
o Banking
Establish national paper currency
o Land Use
Homestead act
Moral land grant act (established colleges
Engines of Change
Railroads are one of the most powerful forces of transformation
New transportation revolution takes hold
Encouraged by federal subsidies
Transcontinental railroad completed in 1869
Spurs mass economic growth and financial speculation
Railroad companies created time zones
Trouble in the Land
Corruption plagues many industries
Especially railroads
o Construction
o Operation
"Transit" payments
"Watering stock"
Crash and Burn
Panic of 1873
o Failed railroad speculation by large investment ban triggers crash
o 18,000 businesses collapse within two years
o by 1876, 14% unemployment. Remains double digits for a decade
Hardships are worsened by the Crime of '73
o Ends silver currency
o Tightens money supply and causes deflation
o Very band for farmers and debtors
Leads to turmoil unrest few and extend depression/repression
Explosions of discontent
Declining wages and economic hardship bring tensions
Increases clashes with labor
great railroad strike of 1877
o Response to coordinated wage cut
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