Industrializing and Rockefeller as Robber Baron


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America as we know today is a society that runs mostly on technology and machines. With the addition of these machines and technological advances, growing crops and accomplishing other actives takes no time. Imagine having to use candles for your home every day instead of having electricity. Imagine having no railroads that took you places or transported your package? Even though it may seems as if it is impossible to live without technology that remedy problems these like these, America actually was once a predominantly agrarian society. Before the industrial revolution, most of America was rural, the complete opposite of today. There was a lot more farmers and basic necessities like electricity did not exist. In response to Britain’s industrial movement, America was able to transform its predominately agrarian ways and become the world’s foremost industrial power. The 1870 Industrial revolution affected America in positive and negative ways through the changes in urbanization and workers, technology and economy.

Urbanization played a big role in what we call the industrial revolution today. Life in America before the industrial was mostly in the countryside and consisted of farms. Crops took a while to harvest and manufacturing was usually done at home. During the industrial boom, rapid growth in farming technology left many labors in need of work. Due to the innovation like the McCormick reaper and the steel plow, farming became more efficient, but meant fewer laborers were needed to work. Those laborer’s left without work flocked to the cities looking for whatever work they could find. Eventually, three out of four Americans lived in an urban city. By 1900, America had over seventeen hundred cities, compared to 1840, only having a hundred and thirty one. Workers who were struggling to find jobs were not the only people who were migrating into cities. By 1890, there was double the amount of Irish people in New York City then three was in Dublin Ireland. In fact, by 1910, immigrant family’s made up more than half the total population in 18 of Americans major cities. Due to the absurd amount of people who migrated these cities, the condition of the houses they were crammed into were unsafe. They were forced into crowded and unsanitary tenements. Even though they passed laws that forced them to install air conditioning, people stashed garbage into the vent, causing it to attack vermin. In response to the horrendous smell, families nailed the air shaft shut. The cities in America during this period of industrialization offered unskilled labors jobs in mills and factories. Factories provided work for the people flocking into these American cities during this time. With an overwhelming amount of people coming into these American cities, materials and products began to flourish, but at the cost of the workers physical dignity.

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Even though the rise of factories provided many workers, mostly unskilled, with the opportunity to work during the period of industrializations, workers were taken advantage of. The workers in the factories were forced to work twelve hours a day, six days a week. Boys and girls ranging from the age of five to fifteen were forced to leave school to help to work to provide for their family. The average pay for the child’s fourteen hour shift was twenty seven cents. Workers were forced in sweatshops with horrible conditions and had zero say, so they were forced to put up with the conditions. Employees were not entitled to a vacations or sick days and were not compensated for any injuries that occurred on the job. During 1882, on average 675 workers were killed a week in the hot, bad facilitated factories. Due to the inhumane way these factories were run, the Triangle Shirt Waist fire was an effect to the neglected safety features within a factory building.

On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory in New York city caught on fire and killed a hundred and forty five workers. This industrial incident is notable since it could have been easy avoidable if factories during the industrial revolution did not neglect safety features. In this factory, owned by Max Blanck and Issac Harris, young immigrant girls who did not speak English were employed for twelve hours a day, everyday. It only had one working elevator, and the fire escape was so narrow that in the best case scenario, it would have taken multiple hours for all the women to use it. The doors were also locked from the inside to prevent stealing. In reality, this was a true sweatshop. During the fire, the women were forced to jump out the window or sit behind the locked doors and await the fire to reach them and burn them alive. A march ensued the next day, protesting the conditions that led to the fire. More than eighty thousand people attended this march. Most importantly, this tragedy brought widespread attention to the inhuman and dangerous conditions of factories.

In response to the dangerous working condition and unjust hourly wage, labor unions in America emerged. Labors, both unskilled and skilled worked together in unions to attempt to improve there working conditions and increase their hourly wage. Even though unions gave workers an opportunity to unite together and fight for their cause, some union actions were not success during this time period. Business owners and the police worked together to shut down strikes. When strikes occasionally went violent, people viewed the workers as anarchist and, causing the public to go against the workers. Unions formed during the industrial revolution did work however. In 1894, a union won a strike for higher wages. The union has over a hundred and fifty thousand members, both skilled and semiskilled workers. The Knights of Labor, was a trade union that formed during the industrial revolution. They were a trade union that accepted any gender, any sex and all workers regardless or trade. They believe America needed to pass laws to protect the American work force. Even though unions during the industrial revolution did not prove to be successful all the time, laws were passed to help workers improve their conditions.

Due to the advances in technology during Americas period of industrialization, America was able to become the world’s industrial power. The inventions created during this period helped share America into what we are today. Without simple inventions like these, America would have not have been where it is today. In 1876, when Thomas Alva Edison made the lightbulb perfect and was able to invent the a system for distribute and producing electrical power, electricity was born. The invention of electricity during this period changed the nature of business in America. Electricity allowed Americans to replace gas and oil for something more convenient. By 1890, electricity was the component used in most machines, ranging from fans to printer. Due to it being so cheap, electricity soon became available in homes. Due to street cars making it possible to make urban traveling so cheap, the spread of cities was promoted. The invention of electricity is also credited with helping invent time saving appliances. The industrial revolution not only birthed electricity, but it is also credited with the invention of the telephone. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was credited with inventing the telephone. Bell discovered that that movement of reed in a magnetic field could produce the tone of sound waves. With the invention of the telephone not only marked a new era of communication, but it also was the death of the multiple telegraph. The telephone had a big impact towards society. It broadened the idea of communication during the industrial revolution. It made worldwide communication network possible. The telephone helped make business more efficient and effected offices by opening new jobs. With the telephone being a cheaper route, it saved people money from having to travel back and forth from distant places to communicate. The industrial revolution also birthed new uses for steel. Steel created innovative construction possible in the United States. The biggest construction that came from steel was the Brooklyn Bridge. It was supported by steel cables. The industrial revolution not only created technology that we use today, but with the inventions of railroads, expansion was made possible in the United States.

The invention of railroads during the American industrial revolution was the most important, if not the most important phenomena during this period of industrialization. With the invention of the railroad, America was able to expand west for business and for people. With this invention, standard time and time zones were introduced into America, which influenced towns and many communities. Time zones were introduced into America to remedy a problem caused by railroads and the time. To fix this problem, Professor C.F Dowd announced that the United States would contain four time zones. The time zones would include the Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific. Railroads influenced the personal lives of the countries citizens, but also led to abuse. When railroad companies went unchecked, they started to abuse their powers, which lead to widespread abuse. This caused citizens to demand regulation on the railroad industry. By 1856, railroads in America went all the way west to the Mississippi river. On May 10, 1869, perhaps one of the greatest feats was accomplished in America during the industrial revolution, the transcontinental railroad. This railroad included the central pacific railroad, which began in San Francisco, and a new railroad, the Union Pacific, beginning in Nebraska. An absurd amount of immigrants, crossed mountains and dug tunnels to be able to lay the track down. Many transcontinental railroads and regional railroads followed after. The growth of railroads during the industrial revolution in America helped influence many other businesses in America. To keep up with the industrial demands railroads caused, iron coal and other materials grew rapidly. The railroad lines are also credited to produce the growth of towns and helped offer new opportunities to profiteers. With the addition of railroads, materials were able to be transported faster. They were able to delivery materials fast and fairly inexpensive. This was important for cities who lived in rural areas because they were able to get what they need. Another important factor that the railroads brought was it enabled factories to be built in different places. Railroads were able to transport items to and from factories. Transportation during the industrial revolution was solved by the addition of railroads.

During the industrial revolution, Americas economy was built of business men like Carnegie and Rockefeller, who capitalized upon the new technology. Businesses during the industrial revolution succeeded by controlling and finding a way to beat your competitors. Examples are Carnegie and Rockefeller, two men who were able to control all of the steel and oil company. There businesses had a big impact on the United States economy during the industrial revolution. During Americas period of industrialization, Andrew Carnegie was able to achieve success by making his products cheaper and incorporating new machinery. Carnegie, an immigrant from Scotland worked until he had one million dollars. He then used his money to capitalize on his opportunity to pursue his ambition to modernize the steel and iron industries. He attempted to achieve as much control in the steel industry as he could. He bought out his supplier and was able to control railroads, in attempt to have the transportation system in his hands. Carnegie went on to buy out the newly built Homestead Steel Work. Carnegie was able to control his supplier, which lead to him having no big competitors. By the end of the century, his company was running annual profits in excess of forty million. He was able to transform the United States by modernizing the steel and iron companies. Eventually, Carnegie donated more than half of his wealth that he had earned in his lifetime with his company.

Like Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller was able to achieve success by holding up a company. Rockefeller, owner of the Standard Oil company, was ruthless in his pursuit to control the whole oil business. Rockefeller was able to crush his opponents before they had a chance. He was able to forge agreements with railroad companies that allowed him to ship his products for discounted freight rates. Rockefeller also used large railroad companies to find out information about his competitors’. He would go after those who would refuse to sell to him, due to him trying to achieve as much of the oil industry as he could. By 1870, Rockefeller’s company, Rockefellers Standard Oil Company was able to process two thirds of the company’s crude oil. Within a decade, his company controlled ninety percent of the business. He earned profit and beat his competitors by selling his oil at a very low price. His price was lower than what it cost to produce it. He then proceeded to control the market by marking his price up very high compared to the original level. Due to the tactics Rockefeller used to sell and promote his oil, critics and citizens began to call him a robber baron. Eventually, the government was concerned with these cooperation’s expanding and passed the Sherman Antitrust act. The government wanted to allow free trade within the country, but companies that were targeted under this act reorganized into single cooperation’s. By then one percent of the country’s businesses controlled forty percent of the nation’s economy.

The 1870 Industrial revolution that America underwent affected America in urbanization and workers, technology and the economy. America would not be where it is at if it did not change from its agarin ways into beings the worlds industrial power. With change comes people, and that is what America experienced during the industrial revolution. The change from an agarin society to a urban society not only brought the farmers into cities, but brought many immigrants from different countries. With most of the population being in the city, there was more production being done in factories, but at the cost of the workers rights. Workers experienced inhuman factories and were forced to work 12 hour shifts, every day for a 15 dollar weekly pay check. Due to production and minimizing the cost of labor being put in front of workers rights, unions started to emerge in America. Technology during this period also boomed. The invention of electricity, the telephone and steel allowed America to accomplish tasks that were not possible before this period. The economy in America was mostly run by business like Carnages and Rockefellers. They were able to manage to obtain the most steel, iron and oil in there company and destroy their competitors. They obtained the most steel, iron and oil in the industry at that time. The inventions America discovered during the industrial revolution still affect us today, and if America did not go under this period of evolution, who knows where we would be at today?             

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