Post Civil War Period
In the post Civil War period, known as the Age of Big Businesses, or as the Gilded Age period by some, many aspects of the USA were influenced by large businesses and their owners. In this period, businesses became powerful and controlling on the economy, they created different labor conditions, and they influenced politics through corrupted acts.
Factory workers felt the presence of corporate owners each day in nearly every aspect of their lives. The businesses supplied large amounts of employment for Americans so they were powerful over Americans. These businesses could lower wages, provide bad working conditions and fire workers without justification (doc. B). George McNeill expresses how their “whim is law” and no one could opposite it. The government during this time period refused to regulate economic factors because they took part in laissez-faire. This allowed business tycoons, or robber barrens, to gain more power and control of each industry through the means of vertical and horizontal integration. Rockefeller was one robber baron who made use of monopolizing the oil industry through horizontal integration. He killed competition with low prices so his competitors could not sell it at the same price (doc H). This allowed Rockefeller to gain a monopoly through the failures of other smaller companies. Robber barons, like Rockefeller, justified their vast wealth by helping the community through funding projects. Andrew Carnegie, whose Social Darwinism idea became popular, also supported his fellow businessmen through his Gospel of Wealth. In doc E, he states “the man of wealth thus becoming the mere agent and trustee for his poorer brethren.” He justified that the wealthy should not be resented because they were helping the poor out. Yet, they would easily lower wages or fire people for the benefit of themselves.
Furthermore, working conditions began to change during this time. Factories were booming again and new