apush notes - In the decades between the end of the Civil...

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In the decades between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the twentieth century, new technologies, cheap immigrant labor, maturing methods of industrialization, and a mechanized, streamlined transportation system of railroads and steam-powered ships proved a formula for astoundingly rapid growth in the business sector. Government, however, could not keep pace with these changes. Governments were naïve about business and the ways that individuals and companies made money, both legally and illegally. They were not able to deal with many cutthroat business practices, so these were allowed to continue. Competition was intense and business managers often had to adopt practices they disliked or be forced out of business. America was founded on a philosophy of “hands off” of business, an approach known as “laissez-faire,” which is French for “leave to do.” Even when it became clear that some regulation was necessary, especially of credit and corporate practices, government did not know where or how to apply controls. Americans disliked many of the abuses they saw in business, but were reluctant to advocate government interference for fear of doing anything to cool the remarkable engines of progress and production. Earlier in the century, businesses had been allowed to incorporate by obtaining a charter from a state government. Among other advantages, the owners of an incorporated business were shielded from most of the liabilities incurred by the business. This was beneficial since before incorporation was allowed, if a business failed, the owner was wholly liable for all the debts. In some cases businesses failed through no fault of the
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apush notes - In the decades between the end of the Civil...

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