Big Businesses During The Gilded Age

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From around 1870 to 1914, the U.S. went through the Gilded Age where giant corporations such as Standard Oil and J.P. Morgan & Co. sprung up. However, such big corporations hurt the average U.S. citizen by underpaying workers, being run unfairly, and allowing a small few to practically control the nation's economy. During the Progressive Era, from 1890-1920, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and other laws were implemented by President Theodore Roosevelt to put a leash on large corporations, and ultimately help the average citizen and small business owners. Big business leaders hurt the average citizen by not fairly paying workers. First of all, in the article, “The Gilded Age Statistics,” the Shmoop Editorial Team shared statistics that show that …show more content…

Competition is good for consumers. For example, if a company has to compete with another company, they will be forced to try to create a better and cheaper product than the other. If a company is a trust, and doesn’t have to compete, they will have no reason to keep their prices low, or improve the quality of their merchandise. This is because a consumer that needs a product will be forced to buy it from the monopoly even if they aren’t happy with the value or cost of it because they have no other choice. Big corporation leaders wanted to eliminate competition. In fact, Rockefeller once said “competition is a sin.” Trusts eliminate competition through rate wars, price setting, and forced consolidation. Rate wars are when one company aggressively lowers their prices, sometimes below cost, to undercut the competition and ultimately drive the competition out of business. Price setting is when a bunch of companies get together and agree not to compete with each other. Then, they all raise their prices together so consumers will be forced to pay high prices for a product. Different corporations also used different methods to force competitors to sell their businesses to them. For example, if Rockefeller wanted to buy out a competing oil refinery, he would stop providing crude oil to them from his oil rigs until they couldn't survive as a company any longer. Another example is Cornelius Vanderbilt's railroad monopoly. If Vanderbilt wanted to buy a competing railroad line, he would buy out all the land around it to block off its path, and render it useless to the current owners. That way, the owners would have no choice but to sell the railroad to him for cheap. These tactics are harmful to average citizens for more than one reason. First of all, all of these tactics eliminate

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