Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Past Remains in the Present #1

The assignment of this project is to learn about a certain group of people in post Civil War America. The three major themes that we will be focusing on are People, Places, and Power. Meaning who were the people involved, where did these events take place, and who had power over what. My topic is Labor v. Big Business, this is a topic that I find very interesting; especially because these companies are still relevant in today's society. These corporations are still big businesses, and its very interesting to learn how and where they came from. 

Key Terms:
Patents- license that gives an inventor the exclusive right to make, use, or sell an invention.

Productivity- the amount of goods and services created in a given period if time

Steel- is lighter stronger and more flexible than iron

Thomas Edison- made the energy source of electric power widely available

George Westinghouse- improved upon Edison's invention to invent alternating current

Samuel Morse- created the telegraph

Alexander Graham Bell: invented the talking telegraph in 1876

Railroads: transcontinental railroad connected Nebraska to Sacramento. Two railroads companies contracted to build it, the Union Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad.

Bessemer process- made it easier and cheaper to remove the impurities in steel and made it possible to mass produce steel

Henry Bessemer- he created and patented the Bessemer process

Brooklyn Bridge- the longest in the world at the time. It was designed by a German immigrant, John A Roebling and was made out of steel

Robber barons- used to describe the powerful industrialists who established large businesses in the late 1800's.

John D Rockefeller: Formed the standard oil company in 1870. He used certain tactics and deals to drive his competitors out of business and then he bought their refineries. He spread his wealth by moving into copper, iron, coal, shipping, and banking industries.

Andrew Carnegie: embraced the concept "money could make money".

Social Darwinism: wealthy were most valuable group in society. Argued that Society should interfere with competition as little as possible. Argued that society would benefit from the success of the fit and weeding out.

J.P Morgan- controlled 4 completed or almost completed railway systems. He had started before the war, was the son of a banker who began selling stocks for the railroads.

James Duke-  used a new cigarette rolling machine that could roll up to 100,000 cigarettes a day, in 1890 he combined the four biggest cigarette producers to form the American Tobacco Company.

Gustavus Swift- a Chicago butcher put together the ice cooled rail way car with the ice cooled warehouse to make the first meat packaging company.

Edwin L Drake- worked for Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company, he was sent to drill for oil, a new concept that would make obtaining oil much cheaper

Piecework:-workers received a fixed amount for each finished piece they produced. Forced workers to work fast and efficiently

Sweatshop- a place where most piecework occurred, workers worked long hours for low wages.

Division of Labor- factory workers performed one small task over and over to improve efficiency

Frederick Winslow Taylor- set out to improve worker efficiency in steel plants and therefore increase profits

Socialism- an idea that some were drawn too in this time, system that favors public instead of private control of the means of production.

Labor Unions: organizing among workers in certain trades, helped members in bad times. Called for shorter workdays, higher wages and better working conditions.

Collective Bargaining: a price that some Labor Unions used, process where workers negotiated as a group with employers. Workers acting as a group had more power than a single worker acting alone.

Enduring Understandings:  

1. Lots of the new inventions had a lot to do with communication, transportation, and production. It was becoming easier to communicate with far away places, making America a little smaller and more easily accessible. This allowed businesses to expand and be able to operate in more than one location, as well as giving them the ability to sell their product to more than one market.
  • Samuel Morse patented the telegraph and perfected it, send first message in 1844. Many telegraph companies joined together and created the Western Union Telegraph Company, in 1870 they had 100,000 miles of wire and sent 9 million messages, by 1900 they owed over 900,000 miles of wire and were sending 63 million message per year. (American History: Pathways to the Present Chapter 13)
  • The federal government financed and invested in the transcontinental railroad that went from the east coast to the west coast they contracted two private companies, the central pacific railroad company and the union pacific railroad company. (American History: Pathways to the Present Chapter 13
  • Henry Bessemer patented the Bessemer process that made it easier and cheaper to remove the impurities in steel. Before the nation depended on iron for railroads and buildings but now that it was easier to use steel the tides will turn. (American History: Pathways to the Present Chapter 13) 
2. Many families had no other choice but to work long hours in the factories and have their children work as well, therefore the kids wouldn't get a good education and get a better life or job. This made the poor, poorer, and the rich, richer. It was a cycle of people who couldn't afford to get a good education and improve their life style or their children's lifestyle. These big corporations paid their employees low wages and made them work so many hours that they didn't even have a chance to work their way, or educate their way out of this terrible cycle. 
  • In 1890 the richest 9% of Americans held nearly 75% of the nations wealth. Many people suffered. (American History: Pathways to the Present Chapter 13)
  •  Children who worked in the factories often became stunted in both body and mind. Factory workers were ruled by the clock, discipline in the factories was strict. Often fined and fired workers for being late or talking. (American History: Pathways to the Present Chapter 13)
  • In the 1880's children made up more than 5% of the industrial labor force! nearly one in 5 children between the ages of 10 and 16 were employed. This meant they had to leave school and never got a good education. (American History: Pathways to the Present Chapter 13) 

    The major theme of this project is of course People, Places, and Power. My topic is Labor v. Big Business, so far my understanding of the topic is that in the late 1800's there was an surge in the number of new inventions. These inventions led to the founding of these mega- cooperation that are still around today. Companies like AT&T, Western Union, General Electric, Westinghouse, and many more were started during this time period. These companies were founded by the inventors who created the technology. For example, Alexander Grand Bell the inventor of the telephone started AT&T. Samuel Morse the inventor of the telegraph founded Western Union. These companies developed a monopoly in their given industry. The reason for this is because the inventors were the ones who started the actually industry. Their was no such thing as the telecommunication industry until Samuel Morse and Alexander Grand Bell invented the telegraph and telephone. Having a monopoly over an entire industry not only makes individuals very rich, but it also gives them a lot of power. It gives them power over other people and the money they make allow them to expand to different they company to other places. Overall my topic is about big businesses (including their founders) and their interaction with the common people all over America.


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