Test your knowledge with these practice questions:
Summary: During this era, there was massive industrial growth in the United States, making America the major industrial producer of the world. This growth was largely a product of the expansion of heavy industry; steel was an important component of this industrial growth. The development of the assembly line and Taylorism, which encouraged efficiency in the workplace, created a factory setting where skilled workmanship was de-emphasized. Horizontal and vertical integration allowed major American businesses such as Standard Oil and United States Steel to expand greatly. American workers began to unionize in this era through labor organizations such as the Knights of Labor, the American Federation of Labor, and the Industrial Workers of the World. "New" immigrants from eastern and southern Europe took unskilled jobs in many of the expanding factories but were not wanted by some labor organizations. The American city was also greatly transformed in this era. Political machines dominated many city governments, although efforts took place at the federal level to create a professional civil service system.
Taylorism: following management practices of the industrial engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor, the belief that factories should be managed in a scientific manner, utilizing techniques that would increase the efficiency of the individual workers and the factory process as a whole.
Horizontal integration: a strategy of gaining as much control over a single industry as possible, oftentimes by creating trusts and holding companies; this strategy was utilized by John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil.
Vertical integration: a strategy of gaining as much control over a single industry as possible by controlling the production, marketing, and distribution of the finished product. Andrew Carnegie and U.S. Steel are the best example from the era of this approach.
"Gospel of Wealth": the philosophy of Andrew Carnegie, who believed that wealthy industrialists had an obligation to help local communities and philanthropic organizations.
Knights of Labor: established in the 1880s, this was the major union of that decade. It was made up of unions of many industries and accepted unskilled workers.
American Federation of Labor: national labor union formed by Samuel Gompers in 1886; original goal was to organize skilled workers by craft.
Industrial Workers of the World: more radical than the American Federation of Labor, this union was formed in 1905 and attempted to unionize unskilled workers not recruited by the A.F. of L. Members of this union were called "Wobblies."
Gilded Age: a depiction of late-nineteenth-century America that emphasizes a surface of great prosperity hiding problems of social inequality and cultural shallowness.
Pendleton Civil Service Act (1883): federal act that established a civil service system at the federal level; for the first time, not all government jobs would be political appointments.
Tammany Hall: political machine that ran New York City Democratic and city politics beginning in 1870; became a model for other urban political machines in the late 1800s.
The Growth of Industrial America
By 1894, the United States had become the largest manufacturing nation in the world. (Germany had been the world's industrial leader since the middle of the century.) Compared to industrial growth that had occurred in Europe earlier in the century, the economic growth that took place in America during this period was nearly beyond belief. Massive factories employed very large number of workers. In 1860, nearly one out of every four Americans worked in manufacturing, while by 1900 this number increased to one out of every two. Radical transformations also took place in the approaches to work taken by former rural dwellers or immigrants who moved to the American city for factory work. Things such as time clocks, scheduled breaks, and the repetition of doing the same tasks over and over made work very different for those who came from rural settings.
The essential characteristics of this Second Industrial Revolution developed because of a combination of new developments in both technology and business organization. Initially, this growth was aided by the lack of governmental control over the affairs of business (laissez-faire capitalism was the dominant economic theory of the era).
The Changing Nature of American Industry
The massive industrial growth of this period was largely based on the expansion of heavy industry. Prior to the Civil War, most American production was based on turning out materials that the American consumer would purchase, such as food products and textiles. These products continued to be produced, but during 1870–1910, rapid industrial growth was fueled by the production of steel, machinery, and petroleum products. Most of these products were designed not for the consumer, but for those who produced the goods. Heavy industry produced new machinery that a textile mill might install, or a stronger, more durable steel that a railroad line might use for a new stretch of tracks. Industrial expansion during this era spiraled; new machinery introduced in textile mills, for example, fueled a further expansion of textile manufacturing.
Another key component of the Second Industrial Revolution was the development of new and more efficient sources of power. In 1865, the majority of American industries were still dependent on water power. The discovery of anthracite coal (in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and elsewhere) caused the price of coal to drastically drop and fueled the transformation in many American industries to steam power. By 1890, nearly 70 percent of American industries used steam.
Industry expanded in this era into geographic regions where it had scarcely existed before. In the New South, many former sharecroppers went to work in textile factories, which oftentimes utilized state-of-the-art machinery that had been produced in the North. The American Tobacco Company started to manufacture cigarettes by machine, and the steel mills found in Southern cities such as Birmingham, Alabama, made these cities start to resemble factory cities in the North.
Changes in the Workplace
Production methods changed in virtually every factory in America during this period, as the desire for more efficiently produced goods became paramount. Efficiency experts were utilized by many companies, and most championed the ideas of Frederick W. Taylor, a mechanical engineer who wrote popular treatises on efficiency and scientific management. Taylorism emphasized speed and efficiency in the workplace; factories found that paying workers "by the piece" made them produce more. Workers were timed, and factories sometimes redesigned to promote efficiency and greater production. One by-product of Taylorism was the elimination of some workers in the factory as other workers did their jobs "more efficiently."
Part of this move toward efficiency was the beginning of assembly line production methods. The application of Taylorism and the introduction of the assembly line best demonstrate the combination of technology and business organization that fueled much of the economic growth of the era. The Ford Motor Company was first established in 1903, and by 1910, it was producing nearly 12,000 cars per year. Henry Ford's factories first used assembly line production methods in 1913; during that year, Ford produced nearly 250,000 automobiles. Similar growth occurred in the chemical and electrical industries as new production methods were introduced.
How did the role of workers in the production process change in this era? Critics charged that the individual worker had merely become "one more cog in the machine"; in an automobile assembly line, the worker might, for example, put the left door on a whoe series of identical automobiles all day long. The need for skilled craftsmen, so important in pre-industrial America, drastically lessened as a result of the assembly line.
Many factory jobs could now be learned in several hours or less. The result of this on the nature of the workforce was immense. Immigrants with no previous training could perform the simple tasks associated with many industrial jobs. In addition, many women left their previous jobs as domestics to go to work in the textile mills (many women took clerical jobs in this era as well). Children could also do some of the more menial tasks associated with factory work and be paid a pittance of what adults were making. By 1900, nearly 20 percent of all children between 10 and 15 were employed, many in textile mills and shoe factories. During this period, some states began to pass laws regulating child labor, although these were oftentimes difficult to enforce.
Clear differences were present in this period between the pay offered to men and women in most factories. Skilled women factory workers made $5 a week, while unskilled male workers often made $8 per week. Women still preferred factory work to the very time consuming and low-paying job of being a domestic worker. Some female workers turned to prostitution; there is some evidence that the number of prostitutes increased in industrial cities at the end of the nineteenth century.
Marriage usually ended a woman's work in the factory; doing all of the chores while the husband was away at work was a back-breaking exercise in this era. Some urban married women also added income to the household by doing knitting or sewing for others at home.
The Consolidation of Businesses
John D. Rockefeller made millions through Standard Oil, as did Andrew Carnegie through U.S. Steel. During this period, these businessmen and others attempted to further control the industries in which they were invested. Many of these schemes did allow the rich to get richer, with little or no benefit to those working under them.
Some of these organizational schemes were quickly squashed by governmental intervention. Influential stockholders of companies of the same industry would sometimes agree to limit production, set prices, and even share profits. This type of activity was outlawed in 1887 by the Interstate Commerce Act. This bill was passed with the intent of regulating the railroads, but it generally was not enforced. The commission in charge of enforcement was made of former railroad executives and others who favored the interests of the railroads.
Another popular method of business organization was the creation of trusts, an organizational technique perfected by John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil. At the time, state laws prohibited one corporation from holding stock in another. However, it was legal to create a trust, by which stockholders in a smaller oil company could be "persuaded" to give control of their shares in that company "in trust" to the board of trustees of Standard Oil. Using this technique, Standard Oil established a horizontal integration of the oil industry in the early 1880s, meaning that the board of trustees of Standard Oil also controlled many other oil-producing companies.
Standard Oil expanded in the late 1880s even further by becoming a holding company. In 1888, New Jersey passed new legislation allowing businesses incorporated there to own stock in other corporations. Standard Oil stockholders began to buy up shares in other companies as well; under the regulations for a holding company, management of various companies could be joint as well. Standard Oil stockholders became the majority holders in other oil companies, allowing Standard Oil management to run these companies also. By the early 1890s, Standard Oil had merged 43 oil-producing companies together under their control and produced nearly 90 percent of all oil in America. Standard Oil also achieved vertical integration when the company not only moved to control production but also the marketing and distribution of the finished product. Similar examples of vertical integration were found in many other companies (Gustavus Swift exhibited similar control over the meat-processing in ustry). Carnegie's steel operation, Carnegie Steel, is often cited as the best example of vertical integration in this era, along with its successor company, U.S. Steel.
Those at the very pinnacle of the economic pyramid were able to rationalize their incredible economic successes. American social philosopher William Graham Sumner wrote in this period about Social Darwinism, which proclaimed that God had granted power and wealth to those who most deserved it. Believers in Social Darwinism could thus justify any scheme that could bring more money to the Rockefellers and the Carnegies of America, since God had wanted them to have that economic power. Carnegie spoke and wrote about the "Gospel of Wealth." According to this theory, the major role of America's industrialists was to act as the "guardians" of the wealth of America (and not to give this wealth out in the form of higher wages to the workers). Carnegie stated that it was the duty of the wealthy to return a large portion of their wealth to the community. To the credit of both Rockefeller and Carnegie, foundations they established have contributed over $650 million to various educational and artistic ventures since the time of their deaths. Observers with a less sympathetic view call the giants of business from this era "robber barons."
The Growth of Labor Unions
Although craft unions existed in the period before the Civil War, the first major strike in American history was the large strike of railroad workers that began in July 1877. Railroad workers protested layoffs and the reduction of their wages. In various parts of the country, railroad property was destroyed and trains were derailed. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, over 30 strikers were killed by militia forces loyal to the railroad companies. President Hayes finally sent in government troops to restore order and break up the strike, although he felt that steps should be taken to "remove the distress which afflicts laborers."
The major union to emerge from the 1870s was the Knights of Labor, which was founded in Philadelphia in 1869. Many earlier unions represented single crafts (shoemakers, for example). The Knights of Labor opened their doors to skilled and unskilled workers, and welcomed immigrants, blacks, and women as well. Membership in the Knights of Labor peaked around 750,000 in the mid-1880s. Brochures written by the Knights of Labor proposed a new, cooperative society, in which laborers would one day work for themselves and not for their industrial bosses. Unfortunately, this rhetoric failed to impress many bosses, and in several large strikes, ownership refused to even negotiate with representatives of the union, causing it to gradually lose members.
On May 1, 1886, a massive labor rally was held in Chicago, with nearly 100,000 workers turning out to support strikers at the nearby McCormick reaper plant. Chicago authorities were aware of the violent tactics practiced by many European socialists at this time and vowed not to let that happen in Chicago. The next evening, a large worker's demonstration took place near Haymarket Square in downtown Chicago. Police and militia forces arrived to break up the demonstration. At that moment, a bomb went off. Seven people died, and nearly 70 were wounded. Eventually, eight anarchists were convicted of setting off the bomb. To many not involved in labor unions, the events at Haymarket Square hurt the labor movement; the press at the time drew little distinction between "hard-working union men" and "foreign" socialists and anarchists. Police forces in cities across the country also increased their supplies of ammunition, guns, and men in preparation for the next outbreak of "anarchism." The Knights of Labor suffered a decline in membership as a result of Haymarket Square.
The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was the next major national labor organization to achieve national stature. The Aflwas organized by crafts and made up almost exclusively of skilled workers. This helped its image, since in the eyes of the public, most anarchists and other radicals were unskilled workers. The union's first leader was Samuel Gompers. Unlike the idealistic philosophy of the Knights of Labor, the Aflbargained for "bread-and-butter issues" like higher wages and shorter hours. By 1917, the AFL had over 2.5 million members. Although the union used strike tactics on many occasions, it strenuously avoided the appearance of being controlled by radicals. Major strikes of the era included an 1892 strike against the Carnegie Steel Company in Homestead, Pennsylvania, and an 1894 strike by the American Railway Union against the Pullman Palace Car Company. The American Railway Union was founded by Eugene V. Debs, who would later run for president on the Socialist party ticket.
Miners in the West also were engaged in labor activity, and in late 1905 helped found the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). In spirit, this union was close to the old Knights of Labor, as it attracted both skilled and unskilled workers. Union literature spoke of class conflict, violence, and the desirability of socialism. IWW members were called "Wobblies" and included "Mother" Jones, who organized coal miners, and Big Bill Haywood of the Western Federation of Miners. The union was involved in many strikes, many of them bloody, and was destroyed during World War I when many of its leaders were jailed.
Strikes by all of the unions mentioned in the preceding text clearly advanced the condition of the American worker during this era. Their wages had risen, and the hours they worked were less. However, the limitations of unions in this era must also be noted. The Knights of Labor and the Industrial Workers of the World were the only unions that recruited women, blacks, and immigrants. The Aflvigorously rejected the recruitment of these groups, claiming that their acceptance in the workforce would depress the wages of all. Some women did form their own labor unions; the 1909 strike by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union in New York City was one of the largest strikes of the era.
Industrial bosses were able to scare some workers away from joining unions, and many continually suspected that unions were filled by anarchists and other agitators. The government supported industrial owners on several other occasions by sending in the military to end strikes. Pinkerton guards were also used against strikers. Unions had still not achieved widespread acceptance in this era. Even in 1915, only 12 percent of the workforce was unionized.
An Increased Standard of Living?
Many history textbooks place great emphasis on the growth of a consumer society in America during this period. These textbooks would note that Americans could now afford things that previously had been luxuries of the upper classes, such as tea and silk stockings. The texts would discuss the fact that average life expectancy increased by over six years between 1900 and 1920, and that things like flush toilets were now present in many houses. The growth of the department store would be emphasized to demonstrate all of the goods that the new consumer could buy.
It should be carefully noted, however, that large segments of American society did not share the newly created wealth found in the pockets and bank accounts of many uppermiddle- class and upper-class Americans. Many Americans, especially newly arrived immigrants, experienced crushing poverty. Conveniences such as flush toilets were not available in most working-class houses until the late 1920s or 1930s. Wages may have gone up, yet in many parts of the country, increases in living costs were even more profound. Fresh fruits and clothing made out of new fabrics were now available, but with the wages that workers were being paid, actually purchasing any of these goods was absolutely out of the question for the vast majority of workers. For many in the growing middle class, however, families could now not just buy the goods and services that they needed; they could begin to buy merchandise and services that they wanted as well.
The Impact of Immigration on American Society
Immigration patterns shifted dramatically in the late 1880s and 1890s. Before then, most European immigrants coming to the United States came from northern Europe, with large numbers coming from England, Ireland, and Germany. A large segment of these immigrants were English speakers; although assimilation into American society was difficult, the commonality of language made it less so. Starting in the late 1880s, most immigrants arrived from non-English-speaking areas, such as Eastern Europe, Russia, and Italy. Many of these "new immigrants" were poorer than those who had arrived in America earlier. This and the language barrier made their assimilation into American society more difficult.
From 1870 to 1920, nearly 28 million immigrants arrived in the United States (peak years for immigration were from 1900 to 1910). Ellis Island opened in 1892, and Europeans desiring to settle in America first had to undergo the physical, psychological, and political testing that was given there. In 1910, Angel Island in San Francisco was completed; this was the West Coast's version of Ellis Island.
Nearly 14,000 Chinese laborers had been recruited to build the transcontinental railroad. Many Chinese avoided racial hostilities by moving to sections of cities like Chinatown in San Francisco. The fear existed that Chinese workers would work for lower wages than "our" workers would, and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prohibited any new Chinese laborers from entering the country (those who were already here were permitted to stay). After the United States acquired Hawaii in 1898, many Japanese living in Hawaii came to California to work in vegetable and fruit fields there. The Japanese faced many of the same prejudices that the Chinese had faced. In 1906, the Board of Education in San Francisco ruled that separate schools would have to be established for white and Asian students. The 1913 California Webb Alien Land Law prohibited Asians who were not citizens from owning land anywhere in the state.
The majority of immigrants on both the West and East Coasts initially settled in coastal cities. Eastern and southern Europeans on the East Coast had come to America to escape oppressive governments, religious persecution, rising taxes, and declining production on their farms. The transformation for many from working in agriculture in Europe to working in a factory in America was massive. To survive, many clung to their old European customs, spoke their native languages at home, lived in neighborhoods dominated by their own ethnic groups (thus the development of Chinatown and Little Italy in New York City), became members of mutual benefit associations or other ethnic organizations, or sent their children to religious instead of public schools.
The initial intent of many of these immigrants was to come to America, make money, and then return to their homeland. Some did return, yet those who remained were a crucial component of the economic growth of the era. Eastern and southern Europeans worked in many factories on the East Coast but also provided the manpower for the economic growth of cities such as Milwaukee and Chicago as well. Some immigrants did become involved in agriculture; a small number of Europeans continued on to the mining towns of the West. The one part of the country where few immigrants went was the South; few jobs opened up for them there.
The Transformation of the American City
The construction of new factories and the influx of immigrants from abroad and from the countryside helped force the radical transformation of many industrial cities in this era. Before the Civil War, cities were relatively small, with most people who lived within the city being able to easily walk to work. Almost all cities had poor sections in them before the Civil War. The rapid influx of poor immigrants turned many of these sections into horribly overcrowded slums.
New methods of transportation aided in the transformation of the industrial city. Elevated trains (first introduced in New York in 1867), cable cars (in San Francisco), electric trolleys, and subways (first founded in Boston in 1897) allowed middle- and upper-class citizens to move further and further away from the center of the city. In the early nineteenth century, the "best" houses were found in the middle of the city; residents of these houses were now relocating to suburbia. Businesses, banks, and offices became located in the business district, usually found in the center of the city. Little housing existed in this part of the city. Located in various sectors surrounding the business district were factories and other centers of manufacturing. Cheap housing for workers usually was located very close to each factory. The upper and lower classes physically lived much farther apart in the "modern" cities of the late 1800s than they had earlier in the century.
The conditions of working-class slums are well documented. Many workers lived in "apartments" that were created from residences formerly belonging to middle- and upperclass residents. Rooms in these buildings were divided and subdivided again so that large numbers of families could live in buildings that formerly housed one family. Tenement buildings were more cheaply constructed and were built to house as many families as possible. Outdoor bathrooms were still the rule in many slum areas. Even those that could receive water inside often emptied waste, human and otherwise, into back alleys (sewage system proved to be woefully inadequate in almost every city). Poverty, disease, and crime were the central elements of life for many living in industrial slums, although in many cities somewhat better conditions were available for workers who were better off. Technology did bring some changes to life even in the slums after the turn of the century, as a few worker residencies started to have gas, electricity, and running water. In the later 1800s, cities such as New York also started to develop building codes for all new construction.
Office buildings in many cities became taller during this era. Before the Civil War the tallest buildings in most American cities were four or five stories high. The development of stronger and more durable Bessemer steel meant that steel girders could now support taller buildings, and the first elevators began to be installed in buildings in the early 1880s. The first actual "skyscraper" was the building of the Home Insurance Company in Chicago. Finished in 1885, this building was 10 stories high, with four separate elevators taking passengers to the top.
City officials in almost every industrial city realized the necessity of construction and city improvements. After the turn of the century, schools, public buildings, and even sewers began to be built at a rapid rate. However, lack of housing was a major problem that urban planners were unable to solve. Many urban reformers, who will be discussed in a later chapter, had other plans to improve the lives of the urban poor.
Politics of the Gilded Age
Mark Twain coined the term "The Gilded Age" to refer to the period between 1875 and 1900. This is not a positive image of the era; it implies a thin layer of gold (symbolizing prosperity) covering all of the problems of the era, including grinding poverty in the time of incredible wealth and political corruption on a wide scale.
The irony of political life in this period was that many Americans were deeply involved in political activity. Large numbers of Americans were involved in party politics; nearly 75 percent of all registered voters voted in the presidential elections of the era, far more than had voted in any recent presidential election. Yet, at the same time, much of the political activity at the time was at a superficial level. Few elections of the era had two candidates who differed radically on the issues; most campaigns revolved around different personalities and not around issues. One observer noted that the American politicians of the period were the most "thoroughly ordinary" political leaders in the history of the United States. On top of all this, there was more corruption in the American political system during this period than in any other period of the nineteenth century.
During the 1870s, Congress exerted a greater power than the executive branch. This was largely caused by the weak Republican presidents who followed Abraham Lincoln (Andrew Johnson and U.S. Grant). It was during this period that some reformers began to point out the evils of the spoils system to the American public. This system, which had been started by Andrew Jackson, allowed the victorious party in any election to reward their loyal supporters by giving them government jobs.
The lack of controversy or debate on issues during this period was partially because Republican and Democrats each had roughly the same amount of support. As a result, neither party could risk alienating or turning away anyone from their party ranks. One way to do this was not to talk about real issues. Republican support from bankers, industrialists, and farmers was balanced by Democratic support from immigrants (those who could vote), laborers, and farmers (especially from the West). Democrats of this era (as well as Democrats of today) have always made the claim that their party represents "the people."
President Rutherford B. Hayes, the successor to Grant, did make an attempt to reform the spoils system. After he won the election of 1876, Hayes refused to use the spoils system when he named officials for his new administration, and he removed some individuals from government positions who had been appointed to their position by patronage, including Chester A. Arthur in New York, a future president.
What to do about the spoils system was an important issue in the 1880, with Republicans themselves being divided on what to do with it. James Garfield, a congressman from Ohio, suggested that the system be reformed. Garfield was not a strong campaigner but emerged victorious in the presidential election, becoming the fourth consecutive Republican president. Garfield, ironically, was assassinated in July 1881 by a man who was outraged because he was passed over on a job that he thought he should have gotten through the spoils system.
After Garfield's assassination, many major newspapers and some politicians began to call for a thorough reform of the spoils system. Garfield's successor, Chester A. Arthur, urged Congress to pass legislation to that effect. The result was the Pendleton Civil Service Act, which went into effect in 1883. This act created a Civil Service Commission, which would test applicants and ensure that government jobs were given to those who were qualified to get them. The legislation also stated that government officials couldn't be required to contribute to political campaigns (a practice that had been relatively commonplace). As a result, a professional bureaucracy began to be created in both the legislative and executive branches. Aides to cabinet members and congressmen became indispensable to the operations of government. Some at the time suggested that this professional bureaucracy was important because it couldn't be voted out of office by the "rabble" who were increasingly being given the vote. As any observer of the American political system knows, however, the reforms of this era did not end corruption as a major influence on the system.
Perhaps the best example of politics focusing on the individual and not the issues was the presidential election of 1884. The regulation of business deserved serious discussion, as did the government's tariff policies (a fiercely debated topic at local political meetings across the nation), yet the campaign largely centered around whether Republican James Blaine had, when he was a congressman, accepted free railroad stock while voting to support bills favorable to the railroad industry. The second most important issue of the campaign was whether Grover Cleveland had fathered a child before he was married. When all was finished, Cleveland became the first Democrat since 1856 to be elected president.
The issue of tariffs remained a major one throughout the 1880s and into the 1890s, with Eastern business interests leading the charge for higher tariffs. As discussed in the previous chapter, a major depression began in 1893. Millions of Americans lost their jobs. Standard economic and government policy of the time was that it was not the job of the federal government to intervene. A Populist from Ohio named Jacob Coxey led a group of unemployed workers to Washington in 1894 and demanded that the government assist the unemployed of America. Coxey's Army did little to affect government policy in Washington, although it did demonstrate the distress felt by unemployed Americans.
The policies of the Populists in the 1890s and William Jennings Bryan and his defeat at the hands of William McKinley were discussed in Chapter 15. McKinley's rout of Bryan in the 1896 election signaled a major shift in American politics. As previously stated, both parties were nearly similar in strength for much of the period discussed in this chapter. The 1896 election ended this. The 1896 election cast the Republicans as a truly national party (Bryan's support was largely sectional). Republicans could claim they were the party of prosperity. Nearly as soon as they were elected, the effects of the depression began to end (a part of this was luck; gold was discovered in parts of Alaska in late 1892, thus increasing the national money supply). Republican domination of politics at the national level filtered down to the state and local levels as well. As a result, many local races were no longer close (increasingly Democrats even failed to challenge Republicans in a number of races). One result of this was a striking decrease in political participation and voting by supporters of both major parties. Some historians also argue that William McKinley was the first "modern" president, in that he amassed a large amount of power in the office of the presidency.
Political life in many of the major industrial cities was controlled by political machines. These political organizations were designed to keep a certain party, or in many cases a certain individual, in power. Favors, jobs, and in some cases money were promised to voters in return for political support. Many machines used the support of immigrants to remain in power, as newly arrived immigrants were often eager to receive the types of help that political machines could give them. Some machines did make positive reforms in local services and education. The most famous machine existed in New York City, where William Marcy Tweed ("Boss" Tweed) ran New York City through the political club located at Tammany Hall beginning in 1870. Tweed and his associates bilked the city treasury out of millions of dollars. The famous political cartoons of Thomas Nast helped to bring Tweed down and send him to jail, although Tammany Hall ran the politics of New York City for nearly 50 years. Politicians in other large cities copied the corrupt practices that existed in New York City.
Cultural Life in the Gilded Age
Many books written in the era present a critical view of America. Looking Backward (1888) by Edward Bellamy was a very popular book. This book looks ahead to Boston in 2000: in Bellamy's view, everyone works hard in efficient factories. A difference, however, was that in Bellamy's view of the future, cooperation between the workers and the bosses has replaced the ruthless capitalism that existed in Bellamy's time.
In 1890, Jacob Riis published How the Other Half Lives, a documentary account of slum life in New York City. This book was especially powerful because it also contained photographs he had taken of immigrants and the conditions they lived in. Finally, The Jungle (1906) by Upton Sinclair was written as an exposé of the meatpacking industry.
To achieve the perfect 5, you should be able to explain the following:
- The industrial growth that occurred in the United States during this era made the United States the major industrial producer of the world.
- The industrial growth was largely based on the expansion of heavy industry; the availability of steel was critical to this expansion.
- Taylorism and the assembly line created major changes in the workplace for factory workers.
- Horizontal and vertical integration allowed businesses to expand dramatically during this era; Standard Oil (John D. Rockefeller) and U.S. Steel (Andrew Carnegie) are the best examples of this type of expansion.
- Andrew Carnegie's "Gospel of Wealth" proclaimed it was the duty of the wealthy to return large amounts of their wealth back to the community.
- American workers began to unionize in this era by joining the Knights of Labor, the American Federation of Labor, and the Industrial Workers of the World. Because of intimidation by company bosses and the publicity that came from several unsuccessful strikes, union membership remained low, even into the twentieth century.
- The impact of the "new immigrants" from eastern and southern Europe on American cities and in the workplace was immense.
- The American city became transformed in this era, with new methods of transportation allowing many from the middle and upper class to move to suburbia and still work in the city.
- Political life at the state and city level during this era was dominated by various political machines, although reforms were instituted at the federal level and in some states to create a professional civil service system.
- 1869: Knights of Labor founded in Philadelphia
- 1870: Beginning of Tammany Hall's control over New York City politics
- 1879: Publication of Progress and Poverty by Henry George
- 1881: Assassination of President James Garfield
- 1882: Chinese Exclusion Act passed by Congress
- 1883: Pendleton Civil Service Act enacted
- 1885: Completion of Home Insurance Company building in Chicago, America's first skyscraper
- 1886: Haymarket Square demonstration and bombing in Chicago
- 1887: Interstate Commerce Act enacted
- Major strike of railroad workers; President Hayes sends in government troops to break up strike in Pittsburgh
- 1888: New Jersey passes legislation allowing holding companies
- Publication of Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy
- 1890: Publication of How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis
- 1892: Ellis Island opens to process immigrants on the East Coast
- 1893: Beginning of major depression in America
- 1894: March of Coxey's Army on Washington, DC
- United States becomes world's largest manufacturing producer
- 1896: Decisive victory of Republican William McKinley breaks decades-long deadlock between Democrats and Republicans
- America begins to recover from Great Depression of early 1890s
- 1897: America's first subway begins regular service in Boston
- 1901: Assassination of President William McKinley
- 1903: Ford Motor Company established
- 1905: Industrial Workers of the World formed
- 1906: Publication of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
- 1909: Strike of International Ladies Garment Workers Union in New York City
- 1910: Angel Island opens to process immigrants on West Coast
- Number of American children attending school nears 60 percent
- 1913: Webb Alien Land Law enacted, prohibiting aliens from owning farmland in California
- Ford Motor Company begins to use assembly line techniques; 250,000 automobiles produced
Test your knowledge with these practice questions:
- Rules of the Road Practice Test
- Oh So Solar! Heliocentric Science Projects
- 7 Things NOT to Say to a Stay-at-Home-Mom
- Addition With Carrying
- A Life Hack for Mom: 10 Uses for the Flashlight
- Verb Worksheets
- Urban Gardening: 8 Fun Ideas
- Practice Writing the Alphabet
- 10 Tips for Back to School
- What to Do When Your Child Is a Bully
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- First Grade Sight Words List
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Grammar Lesson: Complete and Simple Predicates
- Definitions of Social Studies
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- How to Practice Preschool Letter and Name Writing
- Social Cognitive Theory
- Curriculum Definition