Capital and Labor in the Age of Industrialization
8.12- Students analyze the transformation of the American economy and the changing social and political conditions in the United States in response to the Industrial Revolution
11.2- Students analyze the relationship among the rise of industrialization, large-scale rural-to-urban migration, and massive immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe
1. Why is the idea of "laissez-faire" so important to industrialization, and how does it
connect to the economic impact of big business advocates like Carnegie and Rockefeller?
2. Why was the establishment of unions so important for workers/labor?
3. How does advertising play such a major role in the industrial age? How does advertising lead to an economic upturn?
4. Why does new technology benefit employers, but hinder their employees?
5. Why were working conditions so terrible for women and children?
6. How do the two issues of immigration and labor interconnect?
The Emergence of Big Business
The rising concern over corporate power
Significance: Due to laissez –faire, some corporations became monopolies because the lack of government intervention and regulation in the economy and labor conditions.
Carnegie and the Railroads
Railroad Contributions to Nation
Increase in economy by providing jobs (labor)
Spread consumerism across the country (capital)
Carnegie and Steel
Transformed steel corporation into a massive corporation
Used vertical integration to become the most prominent business man of the age.
Steel became most important factor to the American economy
Enabled the construction of "skyscrapers" and more effective and precise weaponry.
Rockefeller, The Robber Baron
Controlled more than 80% of the nation's oil and oil refining facilities through horizontal integration
Invented two new forms of corporation management
Gospel of Wealth
Significance: Carnegie’s and Rockefeller’s corporations contributed to the establishment of the railroads, which employed different ethnicities as laborers.
Primary Source: Steel Magnate Andrew Carnegie Preaches a Gospel of Wealth, 1889
Establishment of Unions
Knights of Labor (est. 1869)
Open to all laborers
Membership reached up to 700,000
Loosely organized with vague direction
Less interested in temporary wage/condition solutions
American Federation of Labor (est. 1881)
Only open to skilled white male laborers
Supported the immediate needs of laborers rather than long term economic reform
Effective structure and organization allowed the union to orchestrate strikes across the country
Labor Union Strikes
Homestead Strike of 1892 and Pullman Strike of 1894 Labor Strikes
Major defeats of the unions
Demonstrated a negative view by the state and federal governments
Incidents were put down by armed forces.
Revealed the weaknesses of the unions
Failure of laborers to create and maintain organizations that protected their interests versus corporate interest
Primary Source: “Homestead and its Perilous Trades-Impressions of a Visit,” Hamlin Garland
Significance: Unions and strikers represented the workers stand against the big businesses’ unjust working conditions.
The Department Store
The giant store offered a wide selection of goods, usually organized into "departments".
Spending a portion of a business's profits to generate more profit
Significance: Mass market was created with the help of stores’ advertisements that appealed to consumers’ fears and desires
World of Work Transformed
Women and Children in Factories
Long hours in mines and factories
New Technology and Machines
Produced more goods in less time
Low–skill, easily replaceable labor to operate machinery
Workers earned low wages and worked long, demanding hours
Significance: As new technology entered the factories, women and children were exposed to dangerous machinery and unhealthy working conditions.
Hostility towards races of workers
American workers felt threatened by the other races taking their own jobs
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
N.I.N.A. - No Irish Need Apply
African Americans were discriminated against when employers hired them during strikes.
Significance: Employers hired immigrant workers over American because the immigrants accepted lower wages. This created hostility between immigrant and American workers.
Primary Source: Immigrant Thomas O’Donnell on the Worker’s Plight, 1883
Classroom Activity: Role-play
As a classroom activity, have the students pretend they are workers in a factory assembly-line that make books.
This classroom activity represents how factory laborers were required to produce a specific number of a products within a certain amount of time. As the demand for the product goes up, factories required their laborers to work longer hours in order to increase productivity. As the working conditions became worse, the skilled laborers who belonged in the union went on strike. The new technology and machines introduced into the factories allowed employers to rid of the skilled workers and employ unskilled laborers at a lower wage rate.