- The Gilded Age is characterized in part by the change from small, locally-owned
businesses to large corporations and trusts that would soon dominate entire industries (monopolies).
The three most important industries of this time were the railroad industry, steel industry, and oil
industry (because of recent and new innovations). The men who owned these corporations were often
called “robber barons” by critics because of their bad business activities and attempts to even control
Andrew Carnegie - dominated the steel industry and used vertical integration by dominating
all aspects of the steel industry, from mining the steel to distributing it.
Rockefeller - organized the Standard Oil trust, which consisted of trustees from several
companies involved in the same industry acting together rather than in competition against
each other. Rockefeller used horizontal integration by slowly buying out all the competition
(or just beating them out of existence)
- The industrialization of the US during the Gilded Age. Cities became bigger. More
immigrants came to the US and to these cities.
- A term coined by Mark Twain in 1873, basically similar to statues with gold leaf gilding -
while they may have been shiny and expensive-looking on the outside, they were often just cheap
plaster on the inside. This represents the situation in America at the time because while the Gilded Age
did mean US industrial expansion because of new technology, mass production techniques, and new
markets, there was a large disparity between the rich and the poor, with a handful of people like
Carnegie and Rockefeller owning copious amounts of wealth while the rest of the population suffered in
- the government subsidized new transportation and communication systems during the
Gilded Age, and this opened new markets. Basically, in these subsidies, the US government granted land
(more than 175 million acres) and also money to the Railroad companies to encourage the building of
railroads all across the US.
- The exclusive possession or control of the supply of or trade in a commodity or service.
Carnegie and Rockefeller monopolized the steel and oil industries, respectively, by using the vertical and
horizontal integration techniques.
This is the idea that human individuals, groups, and organizations are subject to the
same evolutionary laws put forth by Charles Darwin. For example, “survival of the fittest” would also be
seen by the “survival” of people like Carnegie and Rockefeller while the poorer masses suffered. Also,
Standard Oil and other such business monopolies would “survive” over other smaller businesses
because of their ruthless bad business methods, etc. Overall, this idea shows that it is natural for richer
people and businesses to come out on top of society - justifies monopolies, robber barons, and success.