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Improving Efficiency and Improving Technology

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Improvements on technology increased efficiency. The shift to steam engines from water power and a shift to electricity using natural resources like coal improved the efficiency of business. Americans focus on improving technology helped the economic and business consolidation. The transcontinental railroad allowed for access to the West which gave business corporations access to natural resources like coal, silver, iron, lumber, and etc. The railroad industry revolutionized American society; it was beneficial to every industry because it made product cheaper and the cost of transporting the product decreased.

With the improvement of technology which advances businesses leads to the the corporation becoming too powerful. This eventually leads to vertical and horizontal integration. The larger companies would either buy out smaller companies in that industry to eliminate competition. Andrew Carnegie used horizontal integration which created a monopoly. The corporate business leaders strengthened the profit potential and focused on eliminating competition in their specific fields of work. Mass immigration provided the businesses with cheaper labor meaning that they would work longer hours for low pay. The prices for products became cheaper and workers salaries increased slightly. They could now afford more goods for their families because the standard of living increased because of the efficiency of the businesses.

Key Concept 6.1 II: In what ways did the different perspectives on the economy and labor influence the financial panics and downturns?

America was changing and people’s views was also differing about how involved government should be. Some people supported the laissez-faire idea that government should not be as involved in people’s affairs. These people split off into their own group called the Liberal Republicans; later some Democrats sharing the same ideology joins the group. They were nativists; they advocated for limiting voting rights of immigrants and African Americans. As the economy began to change America suffered yet another set back in 1873 called the panic of 1873. The panic of 1873 was a worldwide depression that affected other countries like Great Britain; it is even called the Long Depression. The economic depression and corruption during Grant’s presidency helped the Democrats to regain control of the House in 1874. The panic of 1873 played a role in the end of the Reconstruction period. The depression affected the entire country, but especially the South because it was already a weakened region due to the Civil War.

Immigration rates increased significantly after the Civil War, majority coming from Southern and Eastern Europe. There were also some Asian immigrants. The immigrants started to flocked to cities to work in factories. They soon excluded the Chinese with the passing of the Chinese Exclusion act in 1882; the African Americans suffered the same feat.

Many immigrants were unskilled factory workers working long hours in horrible and unsafe conditions. Many workers were hurt on the job or developed illness because of their environments at work. Skilled workers were steadily replaced by machines and unskilled workers because of the advancement of technology. They then formed the first organization called the Knights of Labor. They allowed almost anyone to join the organization. They grew after the Railroad strike of 1877, but they eventually failed. However another labor organization lead by Samuel Gompers surfaced called the American Federation of Labor. Unlike the Knights of labor, AFL only allowed skilled workers to join the organization. They advocated for higher wages, better working conditions, and shorter hours. They focused on collective bargaining rather than going on strikes with communists or anarchists.

Key Concept 6.1 III: How did new systems of production and transportation enable consolidation and what were the farmers reactions?

The advancement of technology helped society by making agriculture more efficient. The McCormick Reaper continually improved allowing more production with fewer workers. The twining device tied bales of hay mechanically meaning that they no longer needed do it by hand. This sped up production of hay, which allows them to spend their time elsewhere. The introduction of barbed wire allowed farmers to fence on the Great Plains. Wire fencing were capable of restraining cattle and was cheaper for farmers to use. The railroads allowed helped the farmers by connecting them to other regions to sell their products. The inventions of the cold cars grew their economy because it allowed for farmers to ship meat longer distances, which in turn mean more money. The improvements of mechanization increased the production rate of products while decreasing the consumer prices.

Key Concept 6.2 I: How did international and internal migration increase urban populations and foster the growth of a new urban culture?

Factories moved into cities to get closer to cheap labor and to reduce transportation cost to urban markets. The improvement of railroads, cable cars, subways, and etc significantly decreased the cost of transportation for the citizens. Migration from rural to urban became a trend in the U.S. mainly done by people trying to escape poverty, racism, and sharecropping. Usually these people where the outcast in society like immigrants, African Americans, and poor white people. Some African American migrated to Kansas in hopes of political equality, freedom from violence, access to education, and economic opportunity. They hoped to start farming when they reached Kansas, however many failed because of the lack of money to start a farm. As a result of this, many African Americans became unskilled workers in towns and cities. This was called Exodus. It increased urban populations by factories moving to cities which attracted immigrants searching for jobs; and by soliciting false hope to African Americans.

Key Concept 6.2 II: Why did the many immigrants venture West and what was the result of their Westward expansion?

Transcontinental railroad allowed transportation across the entire U.S. The availability of railroads played a role in Westward expansion by immigrants. The finding of large quantities of gold, copper, and silver attracted many immigrants. Immense silver was found creating a boomtown in Virginia City. This was called Comstock lode. The General mining act of 1872 allowed anyone who found minerals on public land to own it for a fee. As a result, this lured many immigrants these booming cities in hopes of mining. Many immigrants migrated West for better opportunities; they wanted to venture West to try and obtain jobs working on railroads, mining, ranching and etc. Some even went out to start a farm, but eventually failing because it was difficult to survive in the West on their own. The government even encouraged Western Expansion by passing the Homestead act, which promises to give 160 acres of land to anyone who can live in the West for five continuous years.

The Westward expansion resulted in tensions between Native Americans, immigrants, and White Americans which led to violence. Many of the Indian wars began because of American settlers intruding on Native American lands. The battle of Little Bighorn was a retaliation against White settlers intruding on tribal lands. The battle ended in the White settlers’ defeat. However, American retaliated by murdering a hundred Native American children and women. This is called the Wounded Knee Massacre. The government continued to reduce the Native American lands to smaller reservations; sometimes forcing them into the same areas with rival tribes. The Dawes Severalty Act significantly reduced the amount of land controlled by Native Americans and gave the land to White Americans. The government wanted to force the assimilation of Native Americans into White American culture.

Key Concept 6.3 I: How did the new cultural and intellectual movements buttressed and challenged the social order of the gilded age?

Many wealthy people believed in the Social Darwinism idea that if you were on top then you’re meant to be; you’re considered strong. The survival of the fittest concept comes from the Social Darwinism idea and was mostly used by rich, white people used to justify their power. The Eugenics movement advocated for the scientific breeding of people, so they only wanted to breed the people on top and sterilize the people they perceive to be on the bottom. This idea supports Social Darwinism. However, this way of thinking began to change when Andrew Carnegie promotes the Gospel of Wealth.

The Gospel of Wealth tells the people in power to collect their money, but give back to their community and help the poor. Carnegie built public libraries and colleges to encourage the population to become successful on their own. His idea continued to stick around even after his death. At the beginning people believed that it was natural selection that chose people to be on top in power living lavishly, but that thinking changed because Carnegie believed that the government should encourage the type of people they want populating society to become successful on their own.

Key Concept 6.3 II: In what ways did dramatic social changes inspire political debates over citizenship, corruption, and the proper relationship between business and government?

Prior to the Civil War and Reconstruction the Republicans and Democrats are ran by political machines in which very tight elections discouraged any kind of risk taking resulting in boring and forgettable presidents. The politicians were arguing among themselves like always. The Republicans wanted to remind everyone that the Democrats were traitors while the Democrats called themselves the Redeemers, who had saved the South from Republican and Black domination. The Republicans wanted high tariffs, but the Democrats wanted low tariffs. They were always pitted against each other even when they didn’t want to be. Another party called the Liberal Republicans fought for laissez-faire and to effect an end to political machines and graft. The liberals also wanted to restrict voting to wealthy and educated people. The pendleton act was passed to shift to a merit based system of federal employment.

The federal court gave their approval of segregation of property and concluded that it was “separate but equal”. The plessy v. Ferguson decision allowed the South to impose segregation and discrimination for decades through the Jim Crow laws. The Crow laws were harsh laws that blacks had to follow in order to avoid humiliation. The South goes so far as to using lynchings to control African Americans.

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