Business And Politics In The Gilded Age, 1865-1900

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Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner were challenged by their wives to write something better than the sentimental novels that they read and soon The Gilded Age (1873) was born. Twain made sure that he included everyone in his book such as political hacks, Washington lobbyists, Wall Street financiers, small-town boosters, and the “great putty-hearted public.”

The gilded age ruined anyone’s life in which was apart of it. The rise of industrialism and corruption of interplay of business as well as politics was all apart of the Gilded Age. With the growth of businesses and the making of new ones, the expansion of technology signaled the rising of industrial capitalism. Following the Civil War, the American economy went through a transformation. Instead of the amount of land you owned, livestock, or buildings money became what was seen as being rich. Jay Gould, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and other business leaders pioneered new strategies to seize markets and consolidate power.

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With newly built railroad, the military’s conquest of America’s inland empire and dispossession of Native Americans become closer to reaching its goal. Between 1869 and 1901 the New York Stock Exchange expanded as the volume of stock increased sixfold. With the dramatic growth of railroads, the country’s first large business was created, the Pennsylvania Railroad. By the 1870s it had a payroll of more than 55,000 workers and capitalized at $400 million. However, the railroads soon fell into hard times and by the 1870s a lack of planning led to overbuilding. Railroad started to compete with each other for business. The public’s concern of the control by the new railroad magnates and the tactics they employed provided a barometer of attitudes of attitudes toward big business itself.

The amount of capital needed to buy or build an oil refinery in the 1860s and 1870s remained low which was about how much it would cost to lay down a mile of railroad track. John D. Rockefeller and his Standard Oil Company succeeded in controlling nine-tenths of the oil-refining business. Being the largest refiner in Cleveland, Rockefeller demanded illegal rebates from the railroads to ensure a steady business. Later, a Pennsylvania Railroad official confessed to the public that Rockefeller took so much money from the railroad that they sometimes had to pay him to transport Standard’s oil. To make these actions legal, Rockefeller created the Trust in 1882. By the end of the century, Rockefeller had complete control over the oil-refining business, The Standard Oil trust paved the way for trusts in sugar, whiskey, matches, and many other products with a value of more than $70 million.

Political parties in power doled out federal, state, and local government jobs to their supporters. Political affiliation provided a sense of group identity for many voters proud of their loyalty to the Democrats or the Republicans. Religion and ethnicity also played a significant role in politics.

Through the nineteenth century society’s notion of what was acceptable for the way men and women should act influenced politics. With the advent of male suffrage, gender eclipsed class in which men’s dominance over women brought all white men in politics together. Once the public became aware of the manhood, women found themselves increasingly restricted to the private sphere of the home.

Blacks still faced racism after the Reconstruction, especially in New South. Segregation prevented former slaves from riding the same train cars as whites, eating at the same restaurants, or from using the same restrooms. The notion that black men threatened white southern women reaches its most vicious form; the killing of black men by white mobs. The practice had become so prevalent that by 1892 a black editor, Ida B. Wells an anti lynching movement. That year a mob lynched a friend of Wells whose grocery store competed too successfully with a white-owned store. Wells articulated lynching as a problem of gender as well as race. She insisted that the myth of black attacks on white women masked the reality that mob violence had more to do with economics and the shifting social structure of the south than with rape.

The author reveals how against racism and sexism they are. When stating the facts of the nasty ways people of color and women were treated they added little side comments that weren’t that obvious but was still opinionated. They wanted to express their hatred to this social injustice of the 1800s. The author made sure to include a snarky comment about the beliefs of masculinity and how a man should never act feminine. One can tell that they don’t believe that how men act should be depicted and shamed for if not manly enough. The author always finds a way to throw in opinions here in there in which, overall, changes the feeling of the words. Instead of bland words on a page, they become a story in which the reader experiences.                    


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