The United States Became an Industrial Power

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The United States became an industrial power by tapping North America’s vast natural resources, including minerals, lumber and coal, particularly in the newly developed west. Industries that had once depended on waterpower began to use prodigious amounts of coal. Steam engines replaced human and animal labor, and kerosene replaced whale oil and wood. By 1900, America’s factories and urban homes were converting to electric power. Dependence on fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas), which powered machines of unprecedented speed and strength, transformed both the economy and the country’s natural and built environments. What is vertical integration? Vertical integration is a business model in which one company controlled all aspects of production from raw materials to finished goods. Once his engineers designed a cooling system, swift invested in a fleet of refrigerator cars and constructed a packing plant near Chicago’s stockyards. What is horizontal integration? Horizontal integration is a strategy pioneered by Rockefeller. Like swift he pressured competitors through predatory pricing, but when he had driven them to failure, he invited rivals to merge their companies into his conglomerate. The roles the government played in this story were in an effort to attract corporate headquarters to its state, New Jersey broke ranks in 1889, by passing a law that permitted the creation of holding companies and other corporate combinations. Despite reformers’ efforts, a huge wave of mergers in the 1890s further concentrated corporate power. By 1900, America’s largest one hundred companies controlled a third of the nation’s productive capacity. Such familiar firms as DuPont, Eastman Kodak, and singer had assumed dominant places in their respective industries. The immense power of these corporations would henceforth be a recurring political concern. Roles that the government could have played but didn’t was that distressed by the development of near monopolies, reformers...
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