American Capitalism and Social Awareness Essay

Submitted By katieschool15
Words: 1816
Pages: 8

American Capitalism and Social Awareness The American economy of the 19th century was not only dominated by capitalism, but by how it was viewed through the eyes of the citizens that supported the economy. Americans, at the time, sparked the idea of supply and demand and influenced what there needs to be more and less of in their society. At first, Americans financed small, potential businesses, creating entrepreneurs who stood out in the money making process. This then transformed into capitalists owning corporations that stood no match to small businesses in the industry. Americans fed the hunger of these wealthy men by buying more and more of their booming, popular product. Citizens began to question these wealthy people, how they monopolized a certain product, and they became more aware of their economic surroundings. Americans’ awareness of society revolves around the economy. Every action and decision made by them is based upon the want for change for the better, thus creating an upset reaction towards the economy. Capitalists of the century knew how to become such wealthy men and did it in a way that everyone else envied them. Three important men made up the idea of business, wealth, and capitalism in the 19th century. These men were John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and J.P. Morgan. They controlled their industries beautifully while many Americans drooled over becoming rich like them in a heartbeat. The men put meaning to words like monopoly and tycoons and if you wanted to purchase something in America, it was bound to be owned by one of these men. Rockefeller owned the Standard Oil Company, which provided the only oil in the country, Carnegie maintained the steel, which was the main ingredient for buildings, and Morgan revolutionized banking and the railroad industry. These men constantly strived for a change in a America, making it better in some way, whether it was through business or new, updated technology. This provided reasons as to how they became rich, along with the process of wiping out competitors. In order for these men to become wealthy entrepreneurs, they had to wipe out the small, local businesses fueled by the people. Using horizontal and vertical integration, Rockefeller and Carnegie obliterated the competition either by lowering prices or investing in a product they think was needed for the future. “Mr. Rockefeller was driven to this new task of organization not only by his own curious intellect; he was driven to it by that thing so abhorrent to his mind-competition” (Tarbell). Rockefeller enjoyed the idea of a game for the spot at the top of the industry and he knew that if he entered it, he would come out on top. Not only could these men manipulate a certain trade industry, but they had the money to do it. People of America began to wonder how they were able to accumulate money so quickly, as they looked up to these men like gods of the money making business. But Americans started to get frustrated with them, envying them, and demanding for change in order to support their families and turn out with some extra cash to spare. Most of America became upset and would do anything to turn the economy around, even if they have to strike and protest until they are heard. The working class was effected the most by this unfairness of wealth and pushed towards better working conditions and salaries. Safe working conditions was hard to come by in the 19th century. Every area was booming with factories and mills wanting hard, extensive labor in order to produce fantastic products. Carnegie’s steel mill was a dangerous and life threatening place to be for a job. Running large machines required keen eyes in order to spot out anything wrong in the moment. Gigantic furnaces bursting with lava to smelt the iron was a death wish in the company. Many workers were burned to crisp when operating these furnaces, along with spending most of the day in areas of high, dry heat. Not