The United States changed drastically after the civil war mainly because of industrialization. Corporations became powerful and significantly grew, changing the dynamic of America. What once used to be a country that consisted of puritan societies is now the largest industrial center of the world. Between 1870 and 1900 the impact of big business affected the economy (Agriculture v. Mass production), politics (Monopolies v. Labor unions), and even the American people (employment opportunities v. Discrimination).
Railroads controlled almost everything, including the economy. The railroad president “can fix the price of freights, and thus command the food” supplies of the nation (Doc B). Improved agricultural innovations drastically reduced food prices (Doc A), which led many farmers to become discontent. Thomas Edison’s invention of the incandescent light bulb allowed for twenty-four hour production, longer work days, and night shifts. This led to mass production of goods, which combined with improved transportation allowed for department stores to open. Retail is what drew people into the city (Doc I), and job opportunities (Doc J) are what kept them from ever leaving.
“This is a senate of the monopolists by the monopolists and for the monopolists” (Doc D), clearly indicates that the senate is controlled by the big businesses. John D. Rockefeller was a monopolist that used horizontal integration in order to put his competitors out of business (Doc H). Small businesses believed that it was the government’s job to protect and defend them against unfair practices such as the ones used by Rockefeller. The populist platform wanted to work towards being able to elect the senators (Doc F) so that monopolies were no longer present. Labor unions were created because mass production quickly became dehumanizing (Doc G) due to specialization of labor (Doc C). Workers became unskilled, which made them very easy to replace (Doc C). Therefore labor unions were created in order to protect workers from big businesses. There were many different labor unions, but almost all of them worked towards shorter hours, better pay, and safer working conditions (Doc G).
People came to cities because of all the job opportunities, but because work was specialized, it was extremely easy to replace workers. Inventions such as the telephone and typewriter led to many more job opportunities, especially for women (Doc J). However, many jobs became gender specific. For example, men worked in the mines and women worked in sweatshops.
This was the beginning of America as we know it today. Between 1870 and 1900 the impact of big business affected the economy (Agriculture v. Mass production), politics (Monopolies v. Labor unions), and even the American people (employment opportunities v. Discrimination). It has always been said that America is the land of opportunity, but sometimes there is a price to pay.