After the Civil War, railroad mileage increased more than fivefold in a 25 year period (from 35,000 miles in 1865 to 193,000 miles in 1900). Railroads created a market for goods that was national in scale, and by so doing encouraged mass production, mass consumption and economic specialization.
Airbrakes, refrigerator cars, dining cars, heated cars and electric switches all transformed the business. George Pullman’s lavish sleeping cars became popular.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia
“Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt used his millions earned from the steamboat business to merge local railroads into the New York Central Railroad, which ran from NYC to Chicago and operated more than 4,500 miles of track.
Recognizing that western railroads would lead the way to settlement, the federal government provided railroad companies with huge subsidies, in the form of loans and land grants. The government gave 80 railroad companies more than 170 million acres of public land. It was given in alternate mile-square section in a checkerboard pattern along the proposed route of the railroad.
During speculative bubbles, investors often overbuild new technologies as did railroad owners. Railroads also suffered from mismanagement and outright fraud. Speculators such as Jay Gould entered the railroad business for quick profits and made their millions by selling off assets and watering stock (inflating the value of a corporation's assets and profits before selling its stock to the public).
To survive, railroads competed by offering rebates (discounts) and kickbacks to favored shippers while charging exorbitant freight rates to smaller customers such as farmers.
A financial panic in 1893 forced a quarter of all railroads into bankruptcy. J. Pierpont Morgan and other bankers quickly moved in to take control of the bankrupt railroads and consolidate them.
In the 1850s, both Henry Bessemer in England and William Kelly in the US discovered that blasting air through molten iron produced high-quality steel (a more durable metal than iron).
Andrew Carnegie was the undisputed master of the industry. South of Pittsburgh, he built the J. Edgar Thomson Steel Works, named after the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, who was his biggest customer. In 1878 he won the steel contract for the Brooklyn Bridge. He also would provide the steel for NYC’s elevated railways and skyscrapers and the Washington Monument.
In 1901 he sold the company believing that wealth brought social obligations and he wanted to devote his life to philanthropy. JP Morgan bought it as he was Carnegie's chief competition in the Federal Steel company. Carnegie sold it for a half billion dollars. Drawing other companies into the combination in 1901, Morgan announced the creation of the US Steel Corporation.
In the 1850s, petroleum was a bothersome, smelly fluid that occasionally rose to the surface of springs and streams. Some entrepreneurs bottled it in patent medications and others burned it. Soon it was discovered that by drilling, you could reach pockets of it under the earth. John D. Rockefeller imposed order on the industry.
Rockefeller absorbed or destroyed competitors in Cleveland and elsewhere. Unlike Carnegie, he was distant. He had deep religious beliefs and taught Bible classes.
He demanded efficiency and relentless cost cutting. He counted the stoppers in barrels, shortened barrel hoops to save metal, and reduced the number of drops of solder on kerosene cans from 40 to 39. He realized that even small reductions meant huge savings. By 1879, through his company, Standard Oil, he controlled 90% of the country’s entire oil-refining capacity.
Some people at the time viewed these men as corrupt and harmful robber barons 🤑 while others saw them as brilliant and innovative captains of industry. Which is closer to the truth? Well, that’s for you to argue.
🎥 Watch: AP US History - Period 6 Review
Business leaders used new tactics to consolidate wealth and drive out competition.
company would control every stage of the industrial process, from mining the raw materials to transporting the finished product.
integration of an industry, in which former competitors were brought under a single corporate umbrella
A board of trustees controls and manages all of the different companies for an organization instead of each company having its own board of trustees to run it. Basically, this is a horizontal organization with trustees.
A holding company is a company that owns the outstanding stock of other companies. A holding company usually does not produce goods or services itself. Its purpose is to own shares of other companies to form a corporate group
As early as 1776, economist Adam Smith had argued in The Wealth of Nations that business should be regulated, not by government, but by the “invisible hand” of the law of supply and demand. If the government kept its hands off (laissez-faire), so the theory went, businesses would be motivated by their own self-interest to offer improved goods and services at low prices.
Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection in biology presented new views of economics for some. Some people argued that Social Darwinism, the belief that Darwin’s ideas of natural selection and survival of the fittest, should be applied to the marketplace. They believed that concentrating wealth in the hands of the “fit” benefited everyone.
A number of Americans found religion more convincing that Social Darwinism in justifying the wealth of successful industrialists and bankers. Because he diligently applied his Protestant work ethic to both his business and personal life, John D. Rockefeller concluded that “God gave me my riches.”
Andrew Carnegie's article “Wealth” argued that the wealthy had a God-given responsibility to carry out projects of civic philanthropy for the benefit of society, the idea of the Gospel of Wealth. He himself distributed more than $350 million of his fortune to support the building of libraries, universities and various public institutions.
🚀 Thematic Guides
Theme 1 (NAT) - American and National Identity
Theme 2 (WXT) - Work, Exchange, and Technology
Theme 3 (GEO) - Geography and The Environment
Theme 4 (MIG) - Migration and Settlement
Theme 5 (PCE) - Politics and Power
Theme 7 (ARC) - American and Regional Culture
Theme 8 (SOC): Social Structures
📑 Document Based Questions (DBQ)
🌽 Unit 1: 1491-1607
1.1Context: European Encounters in the Americas
1.6Cultural Interactions Between Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans
🦃 Unit 2: 1607-1754
2.0Unit 2 Overview: Contextualization
2.3The Regions of the British Colonies
2.5Interactions between Native Americans and Europeans
2.6Slavery in the Colonies
🔫 Unit 3: 1754-1800
3.6The Influence of Revolutionary Ideals
3.10Shaping a New Republic
🐎 Unit 4: 1800-1848
4.2The Rise of Political Parties and the Era of Jefferson
4.3Politics and Regional Interests
4.8Jackson and Federal Power
4.9The Development of an American Culture
4.10The Second Great Awakening
4.11The Age of Reform
4.12African Americans in the Early Republic
💣 Unit 5: 1844-1877
5.5Sectional Conflict: Regional Differences
5.6Failure of Compromise
5.7Election of 1860 and Secession
5.9Government Policies during the Civil War
🚂 Unit 6: 1865-1898
6.2Westward Expansion: Economic Development
6.3Westward Expansion Social and Cultural Development
6.6The Rise of Industrial Capitalism
6.7Labor in the Gilded Age
6.9Responses to Immigration
🌎 Unit 7: 1890-1945
7.0Unit 7 Overview: Contextualization
7.3The Spanish-American War
7.5World War I: Military and Diplomacy
7.6World War I: Home Front
7.81920s: Cultural and Political Controversies
7.9The Great Depression
7.10The New Deal
7.11Interwar Foreign Policy
7.12World War II: Mobilization
🥶 Unit 8: 1945-1980
8.2The Cold War from 1945-1980
8.3The Red Scare
8.4Economy after 1945
8.6Early Steps in the Civil Rights Movement
8.7America as a World Power
8.8The Vietnam War
8.10The African American Civil Rights Movement
8.11The Expansion of the Civil Rights Movement
📲 Unit 9: 1980-Present
9.0Unit 9 Overview: Contextualization
9.2Reagan and Conservatism
9.3The End of the Cold War
9.6Challenges of the 21st Century
🧐 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ)
📋 Short Answer Questions (SAQ)
*ap® and advanced placement® are registered trademarks of the college board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.
© fiveable 2021 | all rights reserved.
2550 north lake drive
milwaukee, wi 53211