Guilded Age

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Erika Chong Munoz
AP US
Heffernan
3 December 2012

Starting from 1870-1900, the Gilded Age became known for industrialization, big business, and its innovations. But looking more closely, it was a period of corruption, exploitation, and bribery. Big business owners fighting for domination in the Gilded Age began shifting economic and political power to their favor only, eventually inciting labor unions and strikes in lower class working americans.

Since post civil war, America during later 19th century began to see changes in transportation in the railroads built during the Civil war and innovations. During this time big businesses sprung from some inventions and began to seek more profit. Corporate leaders began trying to increase profit and beat out their competitors in the market by branching out their business. Only those business owners who were wealthy enough could buy out smaller companies that produced their own materials. Such power to expand a business could enable the owner to set their own prices for the materials of their goods thus making production cheaper. Because of this, many smaller businesses found themselves unable to compete with the bigger business and eventually died out, leaving the wealthier businesses to dominate. (Doc H)

Competing corporations in the same field sometimes took on agreements to set their prices to not go lower than an agreed limit. These pools prevented goods from being too cheap, eliminating one of the purposes for capitalism, which is to compete for lower prices. This practice gave more economic power to business leaders, and also hurt the economy for lower class citizens by raising the cost of living for everyone, deeply affecting the lower wage workers. (Doc A)

Big Business leaders also began trying to make their production of goods more efficient and cheaper by adopting Taylor's scientific management. By assigning people to perform simple parts of operations, owners saw that assembly lines were very...
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