HIS271Y1 Study Guide - Final Guide: Immigration Restriction League, Sherman Antitrust Act, Gilded Age

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Published on 30 Apr 2011
School
UTSG
Department
History
Course
HIS271Y1
Gilded Age
Period after Reconstruction, ending around 1890-1900
Called the gilded age because what may appear to be beautiful from the outside is
not necessarily beautiful on the inside
Beyond the golden exterior of growth, the interior was ripe with inequality, poverty,
and social decay
Businesses and the Workplace
Features of large-scale manufacturing:
oExploitation of immense coal deposits as a source of cheap energy
oThe rapid spread of technological innovation in transportation,
communication, and factory systems
oThe need for enormous numbers of new workers who could be carefully
controlled
oThe constant pressure on firms to compete tooth-and-nail by cutting costs and
prices
oThe relentless drop in prices
oThe failure of the money supply to keep pace with productivity
Modern Corporation
oEfficiency (scientific management, divisions of tasks and workplace
hierarchies)
oNew management techniques (middle-management between the workers and
owners)
oConsolidation (Horizontal Integration and Vertical Integration)
John D. Rockefeller
oCreator of Standard Oil and master of the use of pools and trusts to
monopolize the industry
oHe aggressively forced out his competitors
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oWhen local refineries rejected his offers to buy them out, he priced his
products below cost and strangled their businesses
oWhen rival firms teamed up against him, Rockefeller set up a pool an
agreement among several companies that established production quotas
and fixed prices
oBy 1879 Rockefeller had seized control of 90% of the countrys oil-refining
capacity
oHe then established the Standard Oil Trust, which unlike the pool, created
an umbrella corporation that ran them all
oIn this way Rockefeller integrated the petroleum industry both vertically and
horizontally, by merging the competing oil companies into one giant system
oFearful that trusts would stamp out all competition, Congress passed the
Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1890, which outlawed trusts and monopolies
oExample of the ways in which consolidation had resulted in the formation of
huge corporations by the end of the 19th century
Ideology behind the myth
oThere were several key ideologies circulating during this age to justify this
cutthroat capitalism
oDeep-seated belief in individualism and equal-access to opportunity
Supporters of big business argued that anyone who was willing to
work hard had the same chance to gain success as anyone else
oGospel of Wealth
Rested on the idea that even though things many look uneven, if one
sector of society was successful, eventually it would translate into
other areas
Idea that people like Rockefeller had a responsibility and that his
success would create opportunities for others
oSocial Darwinism
A way of explaining why some people were still unfortunate (they
didnt work hard enough or try hard enough)
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(the average income of an industrial worker was $100-200 lower than
the minimum required to live with reasonable comfort)
Hardships of the workers
oThe average income of an industrial worker was $100-200 lower than the
minimum required to live with reasonable comfort
oUnions at this time were limited to skilled and semi-skilled workers
oThere were no real options for unskilled workers, who needed help the most
oBig businesses had changed the place of the worker... no need for skilled
workers, and unskilled workers were very replaceable
oCorporations targeted the most vulnerable (women, children, immigrants)
because they were the least protected
oCorporations did everything they could to limit the connections that workers
had with one another (split language groups, etc.)
Homestead Strike
oCompany lock-out that sparked a strike and violence at a Carnegie steel plant
in 1892
oTo destroy the union, managers had cut wages and locked out the workers
oWhen workers fired on the armed men who were hired to protect the plant, a
battle broke out
o7 union members and 3 armed guards died
oA week later the governor sent 8000 National Guardsmen to restore order
Unions failed in this period because
oIneffective in the political arena
oBlocked by state officials
oDivided by ethnic differences
oHarassed by employers
oFrustrated by court decisions
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Document Summary

 called the gilded age because what may appear to be beautiful from the outside is not necessarily beautiful on the inside.  beyond the golden exterior of growth, the interior was ripe with inequality, poverty, and social decay.  modern corporation: efficiency (scientific management, divisions of tasks and workplace hierarchies, new management techniques (middle-management between the workers and owners, consolidation (horizontal integration and vertical integration) Sherman anti-trust act in 1890, which outlawed t rusts and monopolies: example of the ways in which consolidation had resulted in the formation of huge corporations by the end of the 19th century. Ideology behind the myth: there were several key ideologies circulating during this age to justify this cutthroat capitalism, deep-seated belief in individualism and equal-access to opportunity.  supporters of big business argued that anyone who was willing to work hard had the same chance to gain success as anyone else: gospel of wealth.

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