The trusts for the urban poor to

    The late nineteenth century was an era of growth in the USA. It introduced railroads, telephone lines, opportunities for entrepreneurs, and cheap goods for consumers. Mark Twain dubbed this time period the Gilded Age; the period was glittering on the surface but corrupt underneath. Between 1870 and 1900, corporations grew significantly across the board in number, size, and influence. The newfound efficiency of resources and mass production resulted in an increase in the production of American goods and the amount of unskilled laborers but also created a wide divide between classes and a maldistribution of power. The American people responded to these impacts through both an increased participation in consumerism and the formation of both political and economic organizations that sought to curb the influence of big businesses in American society.    Large corporations produced concentrated amounts of wealth in American society with mass production, and many industrial tycoons gave back to the nation. Andrew Carnegie, in Wealth, stressed the need for the well-off members of society to give back and live modestly. He set up trusts for the urban poor to help the people climb the socioeconomic ladder (Document 4).  In addition, these businesses provided many job opportunities to a variety of Americans, including immigrants.     The response to mass production was the purchasing of goods, which strengthened the consumer culture. Theodore Dreiser, in Sister Carrie, illustrates the the effect of department stores on the public and the consumerism associated with it. These stores were a result of the ability to mass produce consumer goods, which appealed to the middle and upper classes who could afford them (Document 8). Big businesses, however, limited competition in the market, negatively impacting the local economy.  As big businesses monopolized industry, the local economy was damaged. As noted by George Rice in “How I Was ruined by Rockefeller”, competition was eliminated through the utilization of the theories of economies of scale and through the rebate on shipping goods by railroads. Important customers were granted funds in secret so that railroad companies could receive these large freight orders. One of the companies of the gilded age that received rebates was Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. The smaller companies could not afford to keep up with the higher prices railroad companies charged them. Through these practices, small companies had essentially no way to compete with bigger companies who could retail the same goods for less, thus taking away the business from the smaller companies, like Ohio Oil Works  (Document 7).  Large scale corporations also no longer needed skilled workers. Industrialists could produce the same product as a skilled worker more efficiently, making a cheaper product. This lead to the decline of skilled workers and individualism, further impacting the local economy as Americans purchased the more affordable goods (Document 2). In addition, as there was no longer a need for skilled workers, each worker was more or less the same, and replacable as shown in a photograph of female typists in 1902. All the women in the image are dressed similarly and seem to be completing the same task (document 9).Big business not only monopolized the economy, but also caused unprecedented corruption in the political system. Joseph Keppler’s “The Bosses of the Senate” political cartoon in Puck depicts the massive corruption in the political system as he claims that the Senate no longer served the people, but the industrial tycoons (document 4). The American people responded to this by forming political and economic organizations in an attempt to curb the control of the large corporations.The most significant response of the American people to the impact of big business on society was the formation of organizations. The People’s Party, for example, was a political platform whose goal was to limit the influence of big business in the government, seeking to return the authority to the people (document 5). Unions were also formed by workers. Samuel Gompers,spoke before the International Labor Congress in Chicago in 1893, with a list of demands. Some demands were a reduction of hours, which would serve to eliminate many of the abuses of the industrial system, and for industries to recognize the need for labor unions, allowing workers to unite with a common voice in a form of protection. He wanted to ensure that large corporations could not be scot-free in their negligence towards their workers (document 6).Big businesses impacted the economy through monopolization, their increase in production, and employment of unskilled laborers which had many underlying effects. They also caused political corruption, which the American people responded to with the formations of different organizations combating the authority of corporations and an increase in consumerism.

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