U.S. had extensive natural resources

  • Coal, iron, timber, petroleum, and waterpower.

U.S. had abundant labor

  • Ex–farm families
  • Immigrants.

U.S. became the largest free trade market in the world.

  • Role of the railroad in knitting the country together.
  • A nationwide transportation network.

Investors liked the profit outlook.

Government at all levels helped business:

  • Money
  • Land
  • Stability
  • Upheld private property
  • Laissez–faire approach.

Accelerated technological innovation: new inventions

U.S. had capable business leadership

  • Called captains of industry by their admirers
  • Called robber barons by their critic


Video: Robber Barons Sing Pharrell's "Happy" - @MrBettsClass

Robber Barons

Video: Robber barons and the industrial age


Social Darwinism versus Social Gospel (NHC)


The Men who built America

YouTube Playlist


Rags to Riches stories

Horatio Alger

Horatio Alger (NHC)

Horatio Alger

Horatio Alger

Video: Horatio Alger


John D. Rockefeller

Video: John D. Rockefeller bio

Video: Business Legends: Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller obituary (New York Times)

John D. Rockefeller (Finding Dulcinea)

First Oil Well in U.S. Strikes Oil (On This Day, Finding Dulcinea)

Standard Oil Ordered to Dissolve (On This Day, Finding Dulcinea)


Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie (NHC)

Video: Business Legends: Andrew Carnegie

Video: America: The Story of Us

Carnegie Libraries in California

Andrew Carnegie, The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie obituary (New York Times)

The Gospel According to Andrew: Carnegie’s Hymn to Wealth (History Matters)

J.P. MORGAN=investment banking

Video: JP Morgan

Back Stairs at Brucemore: Life as Servants in early 20th-Century America (Teaching with Historic Places)

HENRY FORD=Mass production of the automobile.

Henry Ford obituary (New York Times)

Henry Ford
[This is good]

Henry Ford (Today in History, Library of Congress)

Assembly–line methods (1913)
Model T cars cheap and readily available.

The First Model-T Ford Is Produced (On This Day, Finding Dulcinea)

Horseless Carriages and Ford's Model T (Chronicling America, Library of Congress)

Henry Ford

Video: The men who build America: the rise of Henry Ford

Video: Business Legends: Henry Ford

Driving a Ford Model T

Why the Model T Matters - @MrBettsClass


Cornelius Vanderbilt

Video: The Men who built America: the rise of Cornelius Vanderbilt

Video: Transcontinental Railroad

Video: Business Legends: Cornelius Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site: Monument to the Gilded Age

THOMAS EDISON=(DC—direct current)

Thomas Edison obituary (New York Times)

Electrical industry.

Importance of electricity to American industrial growth
Changes in American life style.

Thomas Edison (Library of Congress)

Thomas Edison Develops Incandescent Light-Bulb (On This Day, Finding Dulcinea)

Thomas Edison Announces Invention of Phonograph (On This Day, Finding Dulcinea)

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison (National Historic Park)

Video: Business Legends: Thomas Edison

Video: Thomas Edison (

FREDERICK WINSLOW TAYLOR=Father of scientific management

Frederick W.Taylor

Frederick Winslow Taylor (NHC)

Progressivism in the Factory (NHC lesson plan)

Frederick Taylor
Viewpoint: Are Amazon's feedback tactics unusual?

Who Made America: Frederick W. Taylor

Frederick Taylor (NY Times obituary)

Guru: Frederick W. Taylor (Economist)

Frederick Winslow Taylor
Viewpoint: Are Amazon's feedback tactics unusual?

Emphasis on efficient production using
Scientific management methods
Time studies.


Social Gospel

Social Gospel

Walter Rauschenbusch

Walter Rauschenbusch

Video: Walter Rauschenbusch

Links: Foreign Missionary movement

Billy Sunday

Hitting the Sawdust Trail with Billy Sunday

Billy Sunday

Dwight Moody

Dwight Moody


Capital and Labor

Let's check out these recent articles about Apple.

What comparisons to America during the Gilded Age.

Apple Accused of Ignoring 'Human Cost' of Manufacturing (PC World)

Apple’s iPad and the Human Costs for Workers in China (New York Times)

"8-Hour Work Day" (Today in History, Library of Congress)
This article sets the stage for our discussion of the labor movement.

Changing status of labor
  • Industrialization changed the nature of work
  • Power of employers increased
  • Worker independence and self-respect declined
  • Industrial workers were employees rather than crafts persons
  • Robot-like tasks made them feel like machines.
  • Emphasis on quantity over quality dehumanized the workplace
  • Workers resisted these trends
  • Worker resistance only led employers to tighten restrictions

Iron law of wages
  • Employees paid according to conditions of supply and demand.
  • Employers would set wages as low as possible

At a level where some persons would accept the work

Rise of Industrial America, 1876-1900 (Library of Congress: American Memory Timeline)

Work in the Late 19th Century

Companies hired women and children to further cut costs
  • Prevailing free–market views stifled protective legislation for workers
  • Employers denied responsibility for employees' well–being.
  • Repetitive work decreased concentration and caused industrial accidents.

Child Labor (Ohio History online)

Child Labor in America, 1908-1912 (History Place)

Child Labor in the Industrial Revolution (Sound Smart)

Protest songs

No workers' comp at the time.
If you got hurt, tough luck.
  • Is beating down the worker a prerequisite for industrialization? Should we care how Thailand runs its factories today?
  • Courts reinforced iron law of wages

Denied workers the right to bargain collectively
Wages a private negotiation b/n employee & employer.

Important Supreme Court cases on the issue of management/labor

(1) Holden v. Hardy (1896)—ok to limit hours of miners, a dangerous job

(2) Lochner v. New York (1905)—cannot limit bakers' hours, not a dangerous job

(3) Muller v. Oregon (1908)—10-hour limit ok for women; protect their fragility.


Turning Our Backs on Unions (New York Times)

Out of frustration, some workers began to participate in unions
Unionization efforts took various directions.

Introducing New Recruits to "Labor's Catechism"

"The Brotherhood of Man": A Unionist Uses the Bible

Was Christ a union man?

A Christ-like Character: A Catholic Priest Champions Henry George

National Labor Union

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)
Big Bill Haywood and Eugene Debs

A. Knights of Labor

Terence V. Powderly (Ohio History online)

Terence V. Powderly Distances the Knights of Labor from the Haymarket Martyrs

Terence Powderly

Knights of Labor

Knights of Labor was broadly based: Accepted all workers

Knights of Labor (Ohio History online)

  • Opposed the idea of strikes.
  • Envisioned a cooperative society

Laborers would own the companies

2. American Federation of Labor (AFL)

Key name: Samuel Gompers

Samuel Gompers

Samuel Gompers (AFL-CIO)

Samuel Gompers (Ohio History online)

American Federation of Labor was a craft (skill) union.

American Federation of Labor (Ohio History online)

Did not accept unskilled workers
Pressed for concrete goals:

Higher wages
Shorter hours
Right to collective bargaining.

Willing to work within the capitalist system.


Panic of 1873

Video: Illinois in the Gilded Age, Panic of 1873

Panic of 1873 (On This Day, New York Times)

Panic of 1873 (Teaching

New York and the Panic of 1873 (New York Times)


Role of railroads in America
Develop more data for this topic

Transcontinental Railroad (1869)

When Railroads Designed Their Own Version of Time Zones

Great Railroad Strike of 1877

Railroad Strike of 1877

Great Upheaval


Riot protested police brutality against labor demonstrators.
Police killed by a bomb thrown by supposed anarchists (want no govt)
Revived middle–class fears of unions.

Haymarket Riot (Sound Smart)

Haymarket Riot

Anarchy Archives

John Peter Altgeld

An Anarchist by Any Other Name: Albert Parsons and Anarchist Socialism

The Dramas of Haymarket (Chicago Historical Society)

Chicago Anarchists on Trial: Evidence from the Haymarket Affair, 1886-1887 (Library of Congress)

Anarchists (Chronicling America)

Today in History: December 30 Altgeld, Anarchists

Haymarket Affair (Chronicling America)

Haymarket (Famous Trials)

Haymarket Affair (1886)
[Note to myself: Causes and Effects of Emigration from Germany (1870s-1880s)]


Steelworkers strike against Carnegie Steel Company.
Henry Frick hired Pinkerton guards to protect the plant.
Workers battled the guards.
National guard called out.

1. Background articles

The Homestead and Pullman Strikes

Homestead Strike (AFL-CIO)

Homestead Strike

Henry Clay Frick

"I Will Kill Frick": Emma Goldman Recounts the Attempt to Assassinate the Chairman of the Carnegie Steel Company During the: Homestead Strike in 1892

"An Awful Battle at Homestead, Pa."

The Musical Saga of Homestead


Panic of 1893

Panic of 1893

Economic Depression of 1893

Columbian Exposition in Chicago [1893]

Columbian Exposition (1893)

World's Columbian Exposition (1893): Idea, Experience, Aftermath
[as in pre-Columbian; Columbus 1492]

Coxey's Army march on Washington (1894)

Coxey's Army (1894)


The Homestead and Pullman Strikes

Pullman Strike (Chicago Historical Society)

George Pullman (Finding Dulcinea)

George Pullman

George Pullman

Pullman Strike

Pullman Strike (NHC)

Father Knows Best: Strikers Denounce Pullman

Pullman Porters (Chronicling America LOC)

Eugene V. Debs

Bernie Sanders has a Eugene Debs problem

Eugene Debs and Pullman Strike (Finding Dulcinea)

Origins of Labor Day and Pullman Strike

Broken Spirits: Letters on the Pullman Strike

  • Against exploitative policies of Pullman Palace Car Company.
  • Government intervened on the side of management

To ensure mail deliveries (supposedly)
President Cleveland sent troops to put down the strike.

Eugene Debs and Pullman Strike