Gilded Age DBQ

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The American Gilded Age yielded an extreme amount of economic prosperity and industrial improvements. During the late 19th century following the Reconstruction Era, the economy flourished and America transformed from a struggling country to a thriving nation. Railroads, businesses, cities, and agricultural centers benefitted from the growth during this period. Gilded, as defined by The Free Dictionary, means “to cover with or as if with a thin layer of gold” or “to give an often deceptively attractive or improved appearance to.” From this naturally, along with success, negative effects of this age were present as well. Due to the government’s policy of laissez faire, the business industry was corrupt and the working class got the short end …show more content…
The existence of monopolies led to business moguls, or robber barons, such as Rockefeller and Carnegie dominating a huge portion of the nation’s capital. With this money, horizontal and vertical integration was inevitable and soon, monopolies, trusts, and oligopolies thrived like never before. Horizontal integration being the buying of companies that sell your product to eliminate competition, and vertical integration being purchasing companies that make objects needed to create your product. “The Monster Monopoly” by Frank Beard depicts The Standard Oil Company which was a massive monopoly in its time (Doc 4). Monopolies dominate the market for a single object and can manipulate the pricing, as well, which can leave many citizens paying for overpriced products. John Rockefeller, founder of The Standard Oil Company, became extremely wealthy due to the growth of his business. Through horizontal and vertical integration, The Standard Oil Company gained control of 95 percent of the country’s oil industries by the 1880s. Trusts, legal arrangements in which a small group holds combined stocks and manages them as one, became extremely popular. Soon in 1900, statistics showed that the one hundred prime American companies controlled nearly one third of the countries production capacity. The inequality of the wealth distribution was more intense than ever. Henry Demarest Lloyd points out in the North American Review that man will put capital in front of society and wealth in front of citizenship (Doc 2). Lloyd says it bluntly, people were selfish and made their own monetary needs a priority before they even began to look at other people’s problems. Not only were people upset with the economy, smaller political parties even attempted to take a stand, but inevitably miserably failed. A representative from the Populist Party stated that, “They propose to sacrifice our homes, lives, and children on the

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