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HIST 21 NOTES 1 - Notes 1 I Main themes of 1870-1900...

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Notes 1 I. Main themes of 1870-1900 America a. Nationalizing and centralizing forces, yet continued localistic mindset i. One cause of the civil war was outdated thinking. 1. There was a lack of connection between nationalization and conservative local thinking 2. There was no recognition of the growing scale of the economy, b. Post War thinking was old fashioned and ill suited to deal with new circumstances i. Lesions learned from reconstruction 1. It was a foolish and reckless approach to the situation 2. Cannot force social equality II. The Rise of Big Business a. Basic facts on explosion in post war industrial production i. Increased productivity due to organization and specialization 1. production increased by 11 times 2. labor increased by 4 times 3. number of companies decreased by 20% ii. per capita growth rate doubled iii. economy on a larger scale 1. growing concentration on larger firms a. ex: iron and steel b. advantages of the corporation as a business as opposed to a partnership i. corporations can issue stock and bring in many people, creating more capital ii. there was limited liability for investors 1. they were not responsible for debt or problems associated with corporation iii. the corporation is an independent legal entity and can survive indefinitely 1. partnerships and small businesses often died with their owners c. railroad companies: the first modern corporations i. railroads had tremendous organizational and capital needs 1. they were often overbuilt which resulted in many declaring bankruptcy ii. railroads were one fo the key driving forces of the economy 1. dominant multi-layer industry of the 1860s, 1870s, and 1880s d. cut-throat competition and why it was needed i. cut throat competition was vicious and competition at an unprecedented brutal level 1. often due to greed of owners a. ex: Carnegie and rockafeller
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ii. railroads needed desperate measures to stay in business 1. downsizing cut some costs but could offset the high fixed cost 2. competition often resulted on bidding wars for clients 3. railroad companies would try to “starve” the others out 4. the short term losses sustained during bidding wars would turn profits in the end after rivals went out of business e. social Darwinism i. social Darwinism is the natural formal progress of society ii. a major advocate to this story of social Darwinism was William graham sumner iii. according to this theory, the government should not interfere with social progress 1. Those who were successful were that way because they were the “fittest” and government shouldn’t intervene to change that iv. It was a reflection of the fluidity of society 1. individuals were successful because the structure of the society allowed them to be III. Corporate Robber Barons Carnegie and Rockafeller a. Carnegie’s business practices i. Beginnings 1. started out as a bobbin boy in a textile factory 2. had a wealthy patron, Thomas scott, who helped him along ii. old fashioned 1. believed in hard competition, not colluding iii. used cut throat business practices 1.
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