Impact of Big Business on Politics and the Economy

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After the Civil war, large businesses ruled America. Prior to the industrial revolution, the government upheld a hands-off approach towards business. Under the laissez-faire principle, free, unregulated markets led to competition, yet this system suffered under the wrath of growing corporations. The impact of big business on the economy and politics was immense during 1870 to 1899. Corporations were growing significantly in number and size, which had a domineering affect on American economy and defined American life. The growing corporations in America dominated most of the economy, creating a large gap between the rich and the poor. During this time period food, lightening, and fuel prices declined significantly, and the cost of living only declined slightly (DOC A). Improved agricultural innovations led to reduced food prices, whereas mining and lighting innovations led to reduced prices for fuel and lightening. Mass production resulted in a lower cost of living. Also, railroad presidents had a lot of control over the economy, negatively impacting it (DOC B). They controlled freight prices and monopolized food and fuel industries, and used trusts to control many industries. Big corporations ran almost all parts of their individual industries. For example, Rockefeller controlled most of the oil industry through trusts. People saw leaders such as Rockefeller as “robber barons,” because their wealth was at the expense of hard working laborers who gained little in return. Additionally, Rockefeller established trusts, which unified control of other oil companies under one group of people. Trusts incorporated control of many companies, horizontally and vertically, to gain control of markets and force out competition. The industrial revolution had an overbearing effect on politics. Many monopolists controlled the senate, and it stayed that way because they were not elected popularly. “This is a Senate of the monopolists by the monopolists and for the monopolists.”...
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