The Gilded Age A successful economy is key leading factor in successful running a nation. An economy is a balance between constantly conflicting elements. An Economy’s success is measured by the amount of wealth it contains, not to mention the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of its distribution of the wealth. In this essay I will be stating how those who prospered during the gilded age used their power to ultimately control the government and its people. Despite how uneven classes may be it is difficult to find a fair way to distribute wealth fairly. Wealthy and poor people will always coexist but in attle.
The government’s in this case acts as a referee. A government must, therefore, regulate the economy so that the power struggle stays relatively even. Those who are considered as poor feel like they are unable to go anywhere that the upper class has. As the rich feel they are helping by using their wealth. Poor versus rich debates will never go away no matter how much change is done to government and society. Poverty however can’t be helped. Today it is possible poverty is what is deserved for laziness in American society. American economy also changes with different periods of history.
The Civil War was the spark of industrialization which enhanced the American economy. As a result their became a time in history that would earn many men their fortunes and cost many more men their sanity. Capitalism was the name of the game and due to the drastic labor problems and the social issues because America was developing this system. Although the gap between rich and poor during the late nineteenth was large, the nation was experienced large economic gains. With the end of free labor, the US had sought a new ideology, and found it in Adam Smith’s market model.
He essentially rote the phycology for the business model in which was “The interests of the worker and the master are by no means the same and in the event of an open conflict between them, the law and magistracy were on the side of the masters(Coase)”. The idea was the pursuit of individual interest. Smith’s model promoted a more aggressive economy and due to individuals seeking out wealth it led to the economic success. The new system allowed those seeking greater wealth to exploit opportunity and rise to astronomical economic heights.
Corporations sprung up all over the due to the industrial revolution and only those who were willing to lay the dirtiest were going to keep their wealth. Corporations were constantly seeking the improvement which led to a series of unfortunate events that would befall the lower class. Due to the constant struggle for power the corporations would do what was ever necessary to beat out the competition this caused workers’ wages to drop, longer work days, less worker safety regulation, and quite possible termination in order for the corporation to save a buck.
It became quite clear that the only way to win this fght corporation vs. corporation was to out play your opponent. In many cases the price of lowering prices and speeding up production came in the Torm 0T pay cuts ana layoffs I nls would result eventually Into rlots ana tne Tormatlon of worker unions that attempted to use their powers to get better working conditions. Many of the lower class were working for mere peanuts but due to the vast number of new labors and due to the number of workers per house hold the economy was better off then it appeared(Campbell).
Due to the increased labors the American economy on a whole flourished during the Gilded and Industrial Age during this time he population had increased by more than twice its initial amount and because of the industrial revolution the United States economy had improved for every new worker. A higher population and more profit per worker resulted in huge economic gains. The number of goods produced made up for Job layoffs in the business as the US economic became more industrialized. As a result of the newly industrialized economy not only business owners but investment bankers also stepped in and gained a large amount of wealth.
Due to the time period it appeared that the lower class would never get anything in return as they worked. However J. P. Morgan was a great man who used his money to give back to society by building librarys and other public works to help the lower class society. Although the rich of the time (such as Rockafeller, Carnegie, and Morgan) seemed distant from the rest of society they helped by donation and demonstrating new ideas. Overall due to their ideas they possible saved the American economy from falling to a point of no return and despite the fact that these men were seen as world class economic tyrants they kept the country going.
The industrialization and gilded age are depicted by the upper class aking advantage of the lower class through American society; however this is not the result of a fault within the American system but is due to the laziness and corruption that lived in its people. The new economy was a thriving force and many individuals were simply taking advantage of the opportunity’s that became apparent in the new world. But in truth it was apparent that some men were being more open with their money than others. The rich were living a life of flamboyancy during the early twentieth century.
Andrew Carnegie’s annual income was nearly twenty five million ollars whereas many of his laborers and employees made a mere four hundred and seventeen dollars per year on average(RlCHARD). The rich no longer new what the lower class was even like using their money for essentially anything they could ever want its hard to notice the problems when you feel that everything is going right. This seemed like a pure display of greed but during that time private interests were to be expected the effect however was increased because the government was in a time of construction.
The government at the time was practicing a sit and watch approach which meant that they would not interfere with business matters and asically allow the cycle to occur. The aristocracy took advantage of this ideology of government and also thrived without the burden of income taxes. The more advantages the aristocracy took, the greater the gap between rich and poor grew. The social abuses used by the rich against the poor created an unstable, yet prosperous economy (Santis). It is undeniable the technological advances had led to the successes of the economy but all of the wealth came at a large.
Working conditions and wages had dropped. It appeared that the rich didn’t care about their workers at all and only cared about making more profit. Working conditions and wage labor were actually getting worse even though some business men were now on the top of cnaln. America naa clearly snown tnat It was 2 very OITTerent classes tne oppressed and rulers. Working conditions the worst of the exploitation. People came to work every day and took the risk of death either due to the dirty work conditions or the very dangerous equipment they were using.
The gap between rich and poor had grown so big, in fact that bosses only cared about success, and not the means necessary to achieve success. The workers in many cases attempted to find ways to etter their conditions they went on strike threw riots formed unions but mostly ineffective causing a lot of men their Jobs and houses. Although success was imminent in the American economy, the social barrier was that of an impassible barrier where the rich were so far above they appeared as stars. The Gilded Age clearly earned its name for that very reason.
It appeared that these rich men shined brighter than any diamond or gold. (Hovenkamp) The truth is that the rich with their crude businesses practices are not completely to blame in fact the government is the main thing to blame. By having a passive overnment the rich acted without consequence. “No period so thoroughly ordinary has been known in American politics since Christopher Columbus first distrurbed the balance search the whole list of Congress, Judiciary, and Executive during the twenty- five years from 1870 to 1895 and find little but damaged reputation. Vincent)” The rich were able to get away with this because it essentially controlled the branches of government. It was clearly stated that the wealthy controlled the senate. Many of the rich even clearly stated that they used their wealth and power to either directly or indirectly influence the senate. Due to the extreme wealth that these men owned there was a lack of regulation by the federal government. Any attempt to better the lower class was shut down by a group known as the Millionaire’s club who would shoot down any legislation that could affect their economic standing.
Now, however, the lack of regulation would be frozen in place because of the social status of the men in the senate, who understood the power of their position. To put it plainly, no bill would be passed by the Millionaire’s Club that would in any way cripple themselves. The millionaire’s did not Just control the legislature, either. The executive and legislative branches were being controlled as well securing the grip the rich had basically on the world. American government had become an aristocracy. The Sherman Anti-Trust was even manipulated by the legislature of millionaire’s to thwart the rising union powers.
Judicial branch of the Federal Government was also under the control of the rich. The courts would automatically rule with the decisions of the companies in order to protect the companies from the state government which ironically should have the power to control this but didn’t at the time. The only egulations of the time were narrow and most were vague and minimally enforced. With all three branches of the Federal Government being controlled by entrepreneurs and millionaires, large corporation held all the cards(Argersinger).
It became quite obvious that naturally, the lower class would only take the beating of corporation for so long and eventually struck back in a flurry of strikes and labor protests that were caused by none other than the actions of the wealthy. The exploitation of corporation would only go unnoticed for so long and finally the general puDllc Degan a serves 0T aeTenslve strlKes. I ne lower class Tlnally stood strong against the corporations forming unions in order to better their lives and not with the intentions of even affecting that of the business owners.
The Homestead Strike of 1892 reflected a demand for greater wage for the hours worked. The Homestead strikers wanted to defend what they had. The price of living had gone up and their wages down as a result it became almost impossible to support a family “By and large, Gilded Age railroad economists defended widespread rate discrimination, which was the object of the intensive campaigns described as economically efficient Herbet)” Despite how the railroad were treating their workers they continued to keep up the abuse and constantly fought off labor disputes as they came. With the Homestead Act solders were sent to put down the uprising.
Following the homestead act was the Pullman strike brought on by a wage cut strikers refused to handle railroads using Pullman cars. The strike however was ended by a court injunction based on the Sherman anti-trust act after the president Cleveland sent troops. It was clear that the riots were not accomplishing much every time a riot occurred the rich ould ask the government to go solve the dispute for them (Herbert). In conclusion I can clearly state that through this research that because of time of economic disparity certain entrepreneurs were able to establish their wealth.
They were able to do so by using the large number of unemployed worked after the civil war as unlimited source of workers. If there was every an issue with the workers they could always get more. Due to this result people were fighting for the Jobs at a lower and lower wage in order to feed their families. This gave the business man the ability to ut wages for everyone without much fuss. Doing so gave them the ability to under sell their competition and gain monopolys on their prospected areas of business.
The government during this time applied a wait and see approach giving the rich the time and preparation to develop relationships in government giving them the ability to use their economic influence or bribe their way out of any sticky situation. This resulted in to the easily deconstructed riots that were brought on by the unfair wages. Due to the following events during the gilded age the rich became a force that ould not be stopped they had control over the government over the poor they were completely mentally separated from any normal man all that mattered was to keep the money flowing.
It’s sad but the rich keep their grip on the economy in the world today in similar manner it may not be as obvious as it was during the gilded age but the world is a similar as was in those dark times. Citation Vincent de Santis The Review of Politics , Vol. 25, No. 4, Twenty-fifth Anniversary Issue (Oct. , 1963), pp. 551-561 Published by: Cambridge University Press for the University of Notre Dame au lac on DenalT 0T Revlew 0T Po 405849 Muckraking in the Gilded Age Edward E. Cassady tl Artlcle staDle URL’ nttp://www. Jstor. org/staDle/ American Literature , Vol. 13, No. (May, 1941), pp. 134-141 Published by: Duke University Press Article Stable URL: http://www. Jstor. org/stable/2921106 Regulatory Conflict in the Gilded Age: Federalism and the Railroad Problem Herbert Hovenkamp The Yale Law Journal , vol. 97, NO. 6 (May, 1988), pp. 1017-1072 published by: The Yale Law Journal Company, Inc. Article Stable URL: http://www. Jstor. org/stable/796340 The Gilded Age Reconsidered Once Again Neil Harris Archives of American Art Journal , Vol. 3, No. 4 (1983), pp. 8-18 Published by: The Smithsonian Institution Article Stable URL: http://www. stor. org/stable/1 557327 The American Sabbath in the Gilded Age Manfred Jonas Jahrbuch for Amerikastudien , Bd. 6, (1961), pp. 89-114 Published by: Universit?¤tsverlag WINTER Gmbh Article Stable URL: http://www. Jstor. org/stable/411 54776 Understanding Economic Change in the Gilded Age Ballard C. Campbell OAH Magazine of History , Vol. 13, No. 4, The Gilded Age (Summer, 1999), pp. 16-20 Published by: Organization of American Historians Article Stable URL: http://www. Jstor. org/stable/25163305 New Perspectives on Election Fraud in the Gilded Age Peter H.
Argersinger political science Quarterly , vol. 100, NO. 4 (Winter, 1985-1986), pp. 669-687 published by: The Academy of Political Science Article Stable URL: http://www. Jstor. org/stable/21 51 546 Immigration in the Gilded Age: Change or Continuity? Roger Daniels OAH Magazine of History , Vol. 13, No. 4, The Gilded Age (Summer, 1999), pp. 21-25 Article Stable URL: http://www. Jstor. org/stable/25163306 THE ROMANCE OF ANDREW CARNEGIE RICHARD L. BUSHMAN MIOcontlnent Amerlcan stu01es Journal , vol. N 1 (SPRING, IY65), pp.
Published by: Mid-America American Studies Association Article Stable URL: http://www. Jstor. org/stable/40640534 Adam Smith’s View of Man R. H. Coase Journal of Law and Economics , Vol. 19, No. 3, 1776: The Revolution in Social Thought (Oct. , 1976), pp. 529-546 Published by: The University of Chicago Press for The Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago and The University of Chicago Law School Article Stable URL: http://www. Jstor. org/stable/725080 American Politics in the Gilded Age du lac on behalf of Review of Politics Article Stable URL: http://www. ]stor. org/stable/