The Gilded Age
• The Gilded Age refers to the era of rapid economic and population growth
in the United States
• During the Gilded Age, the economy functioned under unrestrained
laissez-faire capitalism. As a result, a huge gap developed between the
masses of laborers and the newly wealthy.
• The American economy in 1900 was 8 times larger than that of 1865. Big
business relied on efficiency to produce more and more consumer goods.
Department stores were starting and sold a variety of products in a single
location. The quality of life, especially in urban areas, increased rapidly.
• Laissez-Faire- French word that means the government should have
"hands-off“ role in regulation of the private businesses and economic
The Industrial Revolutions
The first Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain and made it’s
way to the United States about 1780. After the Revolution, people
began living in cities for factory jobs instead of on the farm. The
Revolution continued through time with even more inventions such
as steam power.
The Industrial Revolutions
• In the late 1880’s and early 1900’s
there were so many new
inventions and discoveries that
the time period was called The
Second Industrial Revolution.
• In the Second Industrial
Revolution, people were making
great use of natural resources
such as coal, iron, and oil to
produce electricity, steel, new
machines and new forms of
transportation. Banking, shipping,
and world trade also contributed
to the growth of industry.
Greed or Give?
• The quality of life for many
Americans improved due to the
giving of some of the corporate
entrepreneurs . A personal
philosophy, known as the
"gospel of wealth," was inspired
by the idea of Andrew Carnegie.
• He believed great wealth was a
sign of goodness, and that
anyone who had such wealth
had a social responsibility to
uplift those less fortunate.
Carnegie Hall-created by
• After amassing an enormous fortune,
Carnegie donated $40 million dollars to
fund more than 1,600 public libraries
throughout the nation.
• Despite these huge donations and
financial gifts, some Americans raised
questions about the methods in which he
had garnered his wealth. John D.
Rockefeller who made his money in oil,
spent their final years of his life giving
away fortunes and creating institutions
» Rockefeller Center-New York
The “Steel” Man
• Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish
immigrant who rose from poverty by
gaining control of the US steel market.
He dominated the steel market by using
the Bessemer Process to improve the
quality of his steel.
• The Bessemer Process along with the
business practice of vertical integration
helped him gain a virtual monopoly on
the steel industry.
• Carnegie benefited from the creation of the
Bessemer Steel Process
• The Bessemer process was the first method
by which steel could be mass produced.
Developed and patented in the 1850s by
Henry Bessemer, the process involved
injecting air into molten pig iron to remove
• The resulting steel, relatively easy and
inexpensive to produce, was also lighter and
stronger than iron; steel rails for railroads, for
example, lasted 17 or 18 times longer than
wrought-iron rails. The Bessemer process
was succeeded by open-hearth steel
production in the late 19th century.
The “Oil” Man
• John D. Rockefeller was born in Richford, New York, and moved with his
family to Cleveland, Ohio, where he finished high school in 1855. The first
successful drilling for oil took place in western Pennsylvania in 1859, and
Rockefeller realized that Cleveland was ideally suited to exploit this new
• The early oil business was chaotic and hazardous. In 1870 he along with
others, formed the Standard Oil Company, with Rockefeller owning 26.7
percent of the stock. Using such then-legal tactics as railroad rebates and
predatory pricing, Standard Oil steadily increased its hold over the
American oil industry until by 1880, he controlled fully 90 percent of all oil
businesses in the United States.
• J. P. Morgan used his banking skills to turn companies
into industry giants. He financed industries such as
railroads, electrical equipment, and steel production.
Morgan financed much of America's industrial growth.
• Eventually he owned 7 big railroad lines, AT&T General
Electric, and the United States Steel Corporation. This
one man had a great deal of wealth and power.
• Service on the transcontinental
railroad began as soon as it was
finished. Passengers could ride all
the way across the United States
for around $200.00. The trip was
difficult because of the noisy
train, the dust and dirt, the
danger from outlaws, and a lack
of good food.
• Still, most people thought the
train was a miracle. Not only
people, but also goods could
travel from coast to coast. It was
the fulfillment of the dream
called “Manifest Destiny”.
• In 1862, Vanderbilt sold his steamboat
company & started buying stock
Harlem & NY Railroads companies.
• Gained control of the Hudson River &
NY Central Railroads. He spent $2
million to improve it
• NY legislature approved plan to
combine the Hudson and and NY
Central Companies (known as the
• The route created an interconnected
route crucial to the nation’s expanding
Cornelius Vanderbilt (cont.)
• With business with the Central increasing in the 1870s, he
decided to expand from 2 to 4 tracks between Albany and
Buffalo. Allowed him to move passengers and freight quickly.
• Even though it cost $40 million, the improvement paid off
because the Central returned a greater profit than its
• Vanderbilt also established a route from NY to Chicago.
• He gave few
philanthropic gifts, but
he created Vanderbilt
University in Tennessee
with $1 million
• Created transportation
systems that stimulated
• Died January 4, 1877
(worth more than $100
• Using interchangeable parts meant making the individual pieces of the car the
same every time. That way any valve would fit any engine, any steering wheel
would fit any chassis. This meant improving the machinery and cutting tools
used to make the parts.
• Ford was inspired by the meat-packing houses of Chicago and a grain mill
conveyor belt he had seen. If he brought the work to the workers, they spent
less time moving about. Then he divided the labor by breaking the assembly of
the Model T into 84 distinct steps. Each worker was trained to do just one of
• Ford called in Frederick Taylor, the creator of "scientific management," to do
time and motion studies to determine the exact speed at which the work
should proceed and the exact motions workers should use to accomplish their
• In 1907, Henry Ford made his goal for the Ford Motor Company: to
create a motor car for the great everyone. At that time,
automobiles were expensive, custom-made machines.
• Ford's engineers took the steps towards this goal by designing the
Model T, a simple, sturdy car, offering no factory options -- not even
a choice of color. The Model T, first produced in 1908, kept the
same design until the last one -- number 15,000,000 -- rolled off the
line in 1927.
• In 1913, the first moving assembly line ever
used for large-scale manufacturing. Ford
produced cars at a record-breaking rate.
That meant he could lower the price and still
make a good profit by selling more cars.
Assembly Line & Ford Motor Co.
• Ford had another idea! The workers were also
potential consumers! In 1914, Ford workers'
wages were raised to $5 a day -- an excellent
wage -- and they soon proved him right by
buying their own Model Ts.
• Ford was called "a traitor to his class" by other
industrialists and professionals, but believed
that well-paid workers would put up with dull
work, be loyal, and buy his cars.
• Ford's manufacturing principles were used by
other industries. Henry Ford went beyond his
1907 goal of making cars affordable for all; he
changed the habits of a nation, and shaped its
• Henry Ford
• In 1882, Thomas Edison
introduced the first electric
lighting system to America
by electrifying a
neighborhood in New York
City. By the 1890s, many
towns had electric power
• The introduction of cheap
electric power was main
reason rural American
changed into an industrial
• Before the light bulb, people lit their homes with kerosene lamps,
or natural gas. However, these forms of lighting were dirty,
dangerous, and expensive.
• After Thomas Edison invented the bulb, built a factory to mass
produce the bulbs, and another factory to produce electricity, the
price went down. When other companies entered the market, the
price went down even more!