The Gilded Age in American History

Industrialization, Immigration, and the expansion of
Explosion of Industry
Three significant events spur Industry
Edwin Drake successfully used a steam engine to
extract oil. This began an oil boom.
Bessemer Process:. Bessemer developed a process
to make a flexible rust proof metal—Steel.
Mesabi Range: huge iron discovery in the Mesabi
Range of Minnesota
Innovation: The Brooklyn Bridge
Barnum proves the safety of this 8th
Inventions promote change: Edison
Thomas A. Edison—
remarkable statistics
about his invention
Incandescent Light
Production and
distribution of
Inventions change lifestyles
Christopher Sholes
invented the
typewriter in 1867
A. G. Bell invented the
teleophone in 1876
These two innovations
changed the way
business had done and
the role of women in
the workplace.
The Age of the Railroads
Transcontinental Railroad opened: May 10, 1869
The Golden Spike: Promentary Point
Railroad Innovations
In order to
standardized travel
and make it more
convenient and
efficient. The rail
industry pushed the
new innovation of
using time zones to
standardize travel.
Time Zones
Multiplier Industry
Railroads promoted other industries:
 Mining
 Steel
 Coal
 Car
and line construction
Growth of Towns
Rail needs towns to
sponsor lines and
preserve order and
stability along the
Industry and
packaging became
boom industries along
the rail.
Growth of Chicago
Pullman, Illinois.
The people in the town
built a factory for
building sleeping cars.
Pullman provided all
of the basic needs.
Prices were high rules
were strict.
Violent Strike of 1894
Pullman Strike of 1894
Regulating Railroads
A major goal of
Populist Age
Farmers angry with
abusive land grants,
inconsistent rates, and
high discounts for
large shippers (none
for small farmers)
Saw victory in the case
of Munn (and
Wabash) v. Illinois
Interstate Commerce
Act of 1887reinforced the power
of the Federal
Government to
regulate interstate
Panic of 1893
Railroad co. financial
problems—collapse of
Reading Railroad.
Currency problems
Credit shortage
15,000 businesses
600 banks
74 railroads
Est. 20%
unemployment4,000,000 lost jobs
Panic of 1893
Rise of Big Business and Labor
No one defined the age
like Andrew Carneige
One of the first “titans”
of Industry (Robber
Barons) to build an
empire of wealth.
True “Rags to Riches”
Steel magnate
The Gospel of Wealth
Carnegie and
Rockefeller both created
endowments that gave
away nearly 1 billion
dollars (at that time).
“Wealth is like a stinking
fish” Carnegie
Most of their money
went to things to better
humanity such as
universities and libraries.
Vertical and Horizontal Integration
Social Darwinism
Philosophy of Herbert
Built on books by
Horatio Alger
Social Darwinism
Riches were a “sign of
God’s favor, and
therefore the poor
must be inferior or
lazy people who
deserved their lot in
life” (text-449)
John D. Rockefeller
Led to creation of
companies who joined
together in trust
agreements run by a
board of trustees as one
large corporation.
Rockefeller’s Standard
Oil-controlled 90% of
oil refinery in the US.
Charitable acts from this
“robber baron”
Regulating Business
Sherman Anti Trust Act
Made it illegal to form
Prosecution very
Courts dismissed most
Emergence of Labor Unions
As business leaders
consolidated and
united, labor began to
do the same.
Plight of Labor
Labor faced severe
Long work days
 Dangerous conditions
 No benefits
 Risk of injury and death
 Role of women and
Two types of Unions
This group had more
bargaining power.
Craft unions such as
the AFL
Had less bargaining
Example: The Knights
of Labor
Work week shrank and
the pay increased
between 1890 and 1915
Socialism and the labor movement
Big Bill Hawyood and
the IWW.
“Wobblies” based
their ideas off of those
of Karl Marx.
Strikes and Violence
Purpose of a strike?
Examples of significant
Great Strike of 1877
Haymarket Affair
Homestead Strike
Great Strike of 1877
The Great Railroad Strike
of 1877 began on July
17, 1877, in Martinsburg,
West Virginia. Workers
for the Baltimore & Ohio
Railroad went on strike,
because the company had
reduced workers' wages
twice over the previous
year. The strikers refused
to let the trains run until
the most recent pay cut
was returned to the
Haymarket Affair
300,000 gathered to
protest police
A striker had been
killed the day before.
Someone tossed a
bomb into the police
Haymarket Affair
Homestead Strike
Plan to cut wages once
again and hire
“Pinkerton’s” to allow
the ownership to hire
National Guard had to
be called in after
workers took over the
Workers lost influence
after this strike.
Homestead Strike
Political Machines of the Gilded Age
“There is no denying that the government of cities is
one conspicuous failure of the United States”.
“The worst government in Christendom—the most
expensive, the most inefficient, and the most
Why so inept?
Explosion of population
Deluge of problems
New York’s population doubled five times in less
than a generation given the millions of immigrants
that flooded her borders.
Political Machines
An organized group that controlled the activities of
a political party in a city, the political machine also
offered services to voters and businesses in
exchange for political or financial support. In the
decades after the Civil War, political machines
gained control of local government in Baltimore,
New York, San Francisco, and other major cities
The machine was organized like a pyramid. At the
pyramid's base were local precinct workers and
captains, who tried to gain voters' support on a city
block or in a neighborhood and who reported to a
ward boss. At election time, the ward boss worked to
secure the vote in all the precincts in the ward, or
electoral district. Ward bosses helped the poor and
gained their votes by doing favors or providing
services. As Martin Lomasney, elected ward boss of
Boston's West End in 1885, explained, “There's got to
be in every ward somebody that any bloke can come to
. . . and get help. Help, you understand; none of your
law and your justice, but help.”
If therre’s a fire in Ninth, Tenth, or Eleventh Avenue,
for example, any hour of the day or night. I’m
usually there…as soon as the fire engines. If a
family is burned out, I don’t ask them whther they
are Republicans or Democrats, and I don’t refer to
the Charity Organization Society, which would
investigate their case in a month or two and decide
they couldn’t help them. I just get quarters for them
to buy clothes and fix them up until things are
runnin’ again.”
“It’s philanthropy but its politics, too, mighty good
politics…the poor are the most grateful people in the
world, and let me tell you, they have more friends in
their neighborhoods than the rich have in theirs…
Another thing, I can always get a job for a deservin’
man. I make it a point to keep on the track of jobs, and
it seldom happens that I don’t have one up my sleeve
ready for use.”
George Washington Plunkitt , Precinct Captain,
Tammany Hall
Getting Votes
“I hear of a young feller that’s proud of his voice…I
ask him to come around…and join our Glee Club.
He comes and sings, and he’s a Plunkitt follower for
life. Another young fellar gains a reputation as a
base-ball player. I bring him into our baseball club.
That fixes him, you’ll find him workin for my ticket at
the polls the next election day…I rope them in by
givin them opportunities to show themselves off. I
don’t trouble them with Politics” Plunkitt
The Boss
not the boss officially served as mayor, he
controlled access to municipal jobs and business
licenses, and influenced the courts and other
municipal agencies. Bosses like Roscoe Conkling in
New York used their power to build parks, sewer
systems, and waterworks, and gave money to
schools, hospitals, and orphanages.
Using Immigrants
captains and political bosses were first-generation
or second-generation immigrants.
The machines helped immigrants with naturalization
(attaining full citizenship), housing, and jobs–the
newcomers' most pressing needs. In return, the
immigrants provided what the political bosses
NYC Courthouse example
Cost 13,000,000—in reality it was a 3,000,000
Combating Machines
Became the quest of Newspapers
They attacked with little success in editorials.
What got them were the cartoons
“I don’t care what people write, for my people can’t
read. But they have eyes and can see as well as
other folk.” Boss Tweed.
The Cartoons of Thomas Nast
Exposing Gilded Age Scandal To
A Unique Audience.
Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed
• Political Machines
Dominate Local
• Certain Services are
met and improve, but
corruption is the order
of the day.
Nast slowly erodes Tammany’s
A picture is worth 1000 words!
Who Stole the People’s Money?
Not Grrrrrrreat
In the political ring
Other creations…
Symbols for modern
republican and
democratic parties.
Uncle Sam, oh and…
Nast slowly erodes Tammany’s
A picture is worth 1000 words!
Who Stole the People’s Money?
Not Grrrrrrreat
In the political ring
Other creations…
Symbols for modern
republican and
democratic parties.
Uncle Sam, oh and…
Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed
• Political Machines
Dominate Local
• Certain Services are
met and improve, but
corruption is the order
of the day.

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