Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Past Remains in the Present #2


In class we did an interactive activity online, the objective of the activity was to read and analyze 10 documents and sort them into three categories. Based off the documents you have to decide what those three categories are and which document falls under which. All 10 documents were based on the Homestead strike, where workers at Carnegie Steel Company protested against their low wages and unhealthy working conditions. The three categories were the three perspectives of the strike, the workers perspective, the companies perspective, and the newspapers perspective. This activity gave an overall understanding of the experience of working for a big business.   

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.

Pinkerton Detectives: The Carnegie Steel Mills in Homestead hired these men in order to protect and take back their mills against the strikers. They hired these men because the town Sheriffs tried to bring order to the strikers but were unsuccessful. As a result they decided to not get involved because if anything wrong happened they would be blamed. But even the Pinkerton men were unsuccessful in taking back the mills; it got to the point that the Governor of Pennsylvania had to call the whole state Nation Guard to bring order to Homestead.

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 working conditions and wages were so bad at these big companies, that the workers created unions. A Union is an organization of workers in certain trades, they helped members in bad times. They called for shorter workdays, higher wages and better working conditions. The reasons they formed Unions is because it because it gave the workers more power and say.
3. In ordered to start a company and compete with the other big businesses it was necessary to either have a lot of money to begin with, or to have a new invention that starts its own industry.
  • Carnegie Steel: Andrew Carnegie invested his 50,000 salary into a steel company.
  • Consolidation: gaining control of the many different businesses that make up all the phases of a products development.
  • Horizontal Consolidation: involves bringing together many firms in the same business.
  • Samuel Morse the inventor of the telegraph founded Western Union
  • Alexander Graham Bell inventor of the telephone founded AT&T
  • Thomas Edison inventor of the light bulb founded General Electric

The people at the bottom of the power structure were the workers, they were paid low wages and were forced to work in terrible condition. They were all poor and uneducated, they didn't have time to go to school because they had to work all day in order to make enough money to eat. As a result, the workers came together to form a labor union so they could empower themselves with numbers. They believed that if they all united together they could force the company into paying them more and given them better working conditions. This worked a little, things were getting better slowly and the company and the union negotiated contracts. But finally the company had enough with dealing with the union and decided going back to the old ways. The Carnegie Steel Company fired all their workers in Homestead, and told them to reapply individually. The workers were all out of jobs, had no education, and barely had any money. They had no where else to go and nothing else to do, so they decided to protest, strike, and riot. The union and the Carnegie Steel Company tried to negotiate a deal, but the CEO of the company was very stubborn. From the worker perspective they had no power of the rich big businesses, except in numbers. The workers took over Homestead and rioted, the Governor had to send in the national guard to control the riots. Overall the workers in those days were stuck in an endless cycle, they had to work long hours for low wages in terrible conditions, and they couldn't get education because they had to work in order to make enough money to buy food.  

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