Gilded Age DBQ

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The mid to late 19th Century, into the 20th Century, created a vacuum of opportunity for capitalists in America to dawn their influence and make a great impact on American society. With the Industrial Revolution storming full speed ahead in the United States, men like John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, and J.P. Morgan used their business ingenuity of ‘trusts’, ‘pools’ and other business tactics to rein supreme in their respective markets. These influences, however, were not perceived well by the lower classes, as many felt the brunt of these tactics, and ended up getting hurt, as the capitalists got richer. Thus despite the philanthropy and economic strife gained through these men, it will fall on deaf ears as their …show more content…

The businessmen of the Gilded Age focused solely on their ascension to power, disregarding those who they left behind or damaged economically. Henry George stated in Progress and Poverty in 1879, “the wealthy class is becoming more wealthy; but the poorer class is becoming more dependent” (Doc 1). George discussed the polarity between the wealthy and poorer classes, and how it has grown into two separate entities over time and as the Golden Age had continued on. The drawing, “The Robber Barons of Today” satirized the growing power of the capitalists through the usage of their tactics (taxes, trusts, etc.) (Doc 4). This illustration was used to show how the tycoons had become too powerful, in the eyes of some people, to an extent of extreme oppression. Using ‘pools’, horizontal integration, and assuming smaller companies in order to extinguish competition, are all the forte of the Vanderbilt business. Despite the large income of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the capitalist did not treat his workers well, in terms of their wages or living conditions. Instead, the millionaire rather invested in lavish houses or items, reflecting the wealthy lifestyle of many of these capitalist elites (Doc 6). In “The Concentration of Industry, and Machinery in the United States”, E. Levasseur stated, “...he had worked in seventeen years in England, and that conditions were much better than in America” (Doc 7). As the polarity between the rich and poor grew greater, workers became aggravated with the lack of attention from the industrialists. Workers began to protest, as reflected in the Homestead Strike of 1892, which was put down by private security, the Pinkertons, at the Carnegie steel mill. This perceived anguish by the capitalist tycoons, allowed growth for the Populist Party to take rise

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