Essay about The gilded age

Submitted By hellokaykayy21
Words: 777
Pages: 4

The continuous growth of industry and the flock of immigrants that came to America in 1870 marked a new era in history known as the Gilded Age. This era was given its title after Mark Twain used it in his book The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today. The term gilded means to thinly cover with a layer of gold which was an appropriate label for this period. America’s industrial economy grew rapidly giving many opportunities to individuals to build great fortunes, but leaving others struggling for survival. The overall national wealth increased giving America the outward image of being covered in a layer of gold, but underneath this superficial image, was much corruption. Robber barons that sprung up misused their power and took control of the economy and also plagued American politics. While these robber barons capitalized on America’s rapid expansion of wealth, industrial workers were left to endure miserable working conditions and were hidden behind the nation’s shallow façade. Powerful business men such as John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie used their companies to bring in large profits and monopolize the production of goods that were in high demand. Andrew Carnegie, the owner of Carnegie Steel Company, used vertical integration to control every aspect through the production and distribution of steel to increase his profit. John D. Rockefeller used a different approach in his monopolization called horizontal integration. Rockefeller used his superior size to negotiate rates with the railroad companies that transported his goods, allowing him drive down his prices and forcing other smaller oil companies out of business (Document H). The railroad industry had one of the biggest impacts on the Gilded Age. It enabled products, food and people to be transported across the country in a short amount of time. The railroad presidents controlled everything from the wages of the workers to the legislative bodies of government (Document B). The government took a laissez faire approach and did not intervene for awhile. It was not until after the Wabash v. Illinois trial, which limited the states’ rights to regulate interstate commerce, did the government install the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887. This act required that the railroads be fair and publicize their rates. They also could not give large business secret rebates which were aiding in their monopolizations. Workers in large industries such as Rockefellers and Carnegies companies had the pride of their work stripped away from them as military organizations were being put into place. They no longer were considered skilled laborers, but were taught to do one simple task. Because it was a generally simple task, these workers could be easily replaced, giving them no job security at all. (Document C).
Because robber barons such were supplying so many of the jobs to factory workers, they held all the power over them. These workers endured long working days, poor conditions, and low wages. Women and children were also being forced to work in these factories to provide enough for the family’s survival. Samuel Gompers of