H102 Lecture 06_ The Social Philosophy of American Businessmen

H102 Lecture 06_ The Social Philosophy of American Businessmen

Info iconThis preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: 12/22/11 H102 Lecture 06: The Social Philosoph of American Businessmen Stan le K. Sch u lt , Pro fes s o r o f His to r W illiam P. Tis h ler, Pro d u cer Lec re 06 The Social Philosoph of American Businessmen Co rp o ratio n s , an d th e b u s in es s men wh o were th eir reco g n i ab le h ead s , came u n d er in creas in g attack at th e en d o f th e n in eteen th cen tu r . M an A merican s wh o h ad o n ce as s o ciated " lais s e -faire" with in d iv id u al freed o m n o w lin ked th e term to u n fettered co rp o rate p o wer, b u ll in g tru s ts , an d an u n p reced en ted lo s s o f in d iv id u al freed o m. A merican b u s in es s men fo u n d th ems elv es res o rtin g to n ew id eo lo g ies an d " s cien tific" termin o lo g to d efen d th ems elv es fro m an g r A merican s wh o felt th e tru s ts were d es tro in g trad itio n al wa s o f life. S ome ques tions to k eep in mind: 1 . What was S ocial Darwinis m and wh did s o man American bus ines s men find it appealing during the Gilded Ag e? 2 . How did bus ines s men jus tif their actions between 1 8 7 0 and 1 9 0 0 ? 3 . What did man Americans think about corporations ? "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created eq u al, th at th e are en d o wed b th eir Creato r with certain u n alien ab le Rig h ts , th at amo n g th es e are Life, Lib ert an d th e Pu rs u it o f Hap p in es s ..." (Th o mas Jeffers o n , " Declaratio n o f In d ep en d en ce," 1776). W h en Th o mas Jeffers o n s u b s titu ted " Pu rs u it o f Hap p in es s " fo r p h ilo s o p h er Jo h n Lo cke's o rig in al term, " Pro p ert ," h e ma h av e fo res een th e co n tro v ers o v er th e mean in g o f freed o m th at wo u ld d o min ate Gild ed A g e p o litics . Two co n tras tin g id eals o f freed o m clas h ed d u rin g th is p erio d . A in tellectu al co n tes t en s u ed b etween A merican s wh o b eliev ed th at th e " Pu rs u it o f Hap p in es s " was th e d riv in g fo rce in A merican h is to r , an d o th ers , s u ch as A n d rew Carn eg ie an d Jo h n D. Ro ckefeller, wh o ch amp io n ed th e " Pu rs u it o f Pro p ert " as th e s o u rce o f A merican g reatn es s . Bo th s id es co n s tru cted lo g ical arg u men ts to ju s tif th eir p o s itio n s . Ev en tu all , h o wev er, ad v o cates o f th e " Pu rs u it o f Pro p ert " ap p lied th e " s cien tific" les s o n s o f So cial Darwin is m an d lais s e -faire eco n o mics to win o v er th e p u b lic. us.histor .wisc.edu/hist102/lectures/lecture06.html 1/7 12/22/11 H102 Lecture 06: The Social Philosoph of American Businessmen Pursuit of Happine ss W A H "P A ?" T , : 1. T 2. T 3. C The re was no analog in the pas t T J A "D I " 1776. H , , A , P "A 3) A , .T .O C A " "W W ." (S .T , D :" A - . The corporation was an artificial cre ation C .A ,A , , A - . Corporations thre ate ne d to de s tro compe tition P - .C .O , , .A G A , . S A .F , , , Abram S . Hewitt, "P - H " , "P P , - "A " , , "I , .D R ." --A , S. H us.histor .wisc.edu/hist102/lectures/lecture06.html J M 2/7 12/22/11 H102 Lecture 06: The Social Philosoph of American Businessmen U ,H , .E "P -"P , H " -A P " -- .O -, A , , . Pursuit of Prope rt A A A "P .T H " "P P H " - .F , , .T A - - A "R B :" 1. S D 2. S 3. P Social Darwinis m Charles Darwin C E D , - . I 1859, D On he O igin of Specie . A ,D " ' " . D " " .L , , - "S D Charles Dar in ." C 1997 S W H S Herbert S pencer H S us.histor .wisc.edu/hist102/lectures/lecture06.html , E , 3/7 12/22/11 H102 Lecture 06: The Social Philosoph of American Businessmen took Darwin's theories out of the realm of biolog and applied them to human societ . Spencer, not Darwin, was the first person to coin the phrase "survival of the fittest." He believed that government intervention in the "natural" processes of human evolution, such as welfare for the poor, public education, and government healthcare, helped weak humans survive and, in the process, undermined the health of the entire race. Spencer, of course, never defined what he meant b the "natural" process of evolution. Nevertheless, his books sold over He b e Spenc e (1820-1903), Engli h philo ophe 400,000 copies in the United States alone, C op right 1997 S tate Historical S ociet of W isconsin and he became one of the most influential thinkers of the late- nineteenth centur . William Graham S mner Su mn er was Sp en cer's A merican co u n terp art. " In h is eco n o mic an d s o cial o u tlo o k, Su mn er was a So cial Darwin is t, h o ld in g th at d is tin ctio n s o f wealth an d s tatu s amo n g men were th e d irect res u lt o f in h eren tl d ifferen t cap acities , th at th is s tratif in g ten d en c wo rked to th e g o o d o f s o ciet b elimin atin g weaker an d en co u rag in g s tro n g er s train s (as n atu ral s electio n d o es amo n g an imals an d p lan ts ), an d th at th is ten d en c s h o u ld n o t b e in terfered with b s en timen tal, u n in tellig en t attemp ts to h ed g e th e free p la o f eco n o mic fo rces an d p ers o n al ab ilities . Su mn er th u s ch amp io n ed lais s e -faire as th e o n l tru e p rin cip le o f b o th eco n o mics an d g o v ern men t; in lectu res an d written wo rks with s u ch titles as " Th e A b s u rd A ttemp t to M ake th e W o rld Ov er" an d Wh a t S o cia l Cla sses O e W illiam G aham S mne (1840-1910), Yale oc ial c ien i Ea ch Oth er (1883), h e d ecried an an d all C op right 1997 S tate Historical S ociet of W isconsin mo v emen ts th at p o in ted to a welfare s tate..." ( So ur ce: Web ster's Am erica n Bio g ra p h ies, G. & C. Mer r iam , 1 9 7 5 ) . A merican b u s in es s men ad o p ted eag erl th e id eo lo g o f So cial Darwin is m in o rd er to d efen d th eir b u s in es s p ractices as " n atu ral." James J. Hill, a lead in g " Ro b b er Baro n " o f th e railro ad b u ild in g era, s aw th e ch an ce to ju s tif h is us.histor .wisc.edu/hist102/lectures/lecture06.html 4/7 12/22/11 H102 Lecture 06: The Social Philosoph of American Businessmen actio n s with " s cien tific" termin o lo g : "T he fortunes of railroad companies are determined b the law of the survival of the fittest." -James J. Hill J ame J e ome Hill (1838-1916), financ ie and ail oad magna e C op right 1997 S tate Historical S ociet of W isconsin Th ere were, o f co u rs e, in flu en tial A merican s wh o ch allen g ed So cial Darwin is m. On e s u ch in d iv id u al was th e h is to rian Hen r A d ams , wh o s aid , "T he progress of evolution from P resident Washington to P resident Grant is alone evidence enough to upset Darwin." --Henr A dams Se lf-Adjus ting Econom Along with Social Darwinism, man nineteenth- centur businessmen accepted the idea that the American econom was "self- adjusting." This idea traced its roots back to Adam Smith and his conception of the "invisible hand" of capitalism. "The ideas of laisse - faire applied to economics appealed greatl to Scottish economist Adam Smith. Using these ideas, Smith began another kind of revolution during the period in which the American colonists were fighting their revolutionar war. In 1776, the ear that Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, Smith published one of the most important books in the histor of economics. The book's full title is An Inquir Int o t he Nat ure and Causes of Wealt h of Nat ions. Most people simpl call it The Wealt h of Nat ions. Smith wrote the book after discussing laisse -f aire beliefs with some of the ph siocrats. Smith's book is an argument in favor of allowing people to engage in trade, manufacturing or other economic activit without unnecessar control or interference from government. The main argument in The Wealt h of Nat ions might be stated rather simpl : People are naturall selfish. When the engage in manufacturing or trade, the do so in order to gain wealth and/or power. This process should not be interfered with because, despite the self- interest of these individuals, their activit is good for all of societ . The more goods the make or trade, the more goods people will have. The more people who manufacture and trade, the greater the competition. Competition among manufacturers and merchants helps all people b providing even more goods and probabl lower prices. This activit creates jobs and spreads wealth." T his document was provided b the UNIT ED S T AT ES INF OR MAT ION AGENC Y in the Ab ou t th e Un ited S tates series, which can be found at: http://www. salsem. ac. at/csacl/as_modules/econom . htm us.histor .wisc.edu/hist102/lectures/lecture06.html 5/7 12/22/11 H102 Lecture 06: The Social Philosoph of American Businessmen F A S ' , - A : 1. T , N G 2. T - 3. T 4. T A S W G .W , - - " " , , . Profit motive was the onl re liable ince ntive for action F , .D , A , , .E A , , , A C ' ' , . , , : "M Andre Carnegie (1835-1919), indus trialis t and philanthropis t C 1997 S H S us.histor .wisc.edu/hist102/lectures/lecture06.html W 6/7 12/22/11 H102 Lecture 06: The Social Philosoph of American Businessmen themselves full."--Andrew Carnegie In the end, Carnegie and other American business leaders often relied on science, economic theory, and social philosophy to try and justify their business practices and their growing profits at the end of the nineteenth- century. At times, businessmen faced extraordinarily difficult economic problems. The "boom- and- bust" cycle of depressions and recoveries from 1873 to the turn of the century, in particular, made investing precarious and competition fierce as companies struggled to survive. For all the difficulties that company directors faced during this period, however, the common workers who labored in their factories dealt with much more fundamental economic problems. As business leaders became wealthier and more powerful, the men, women, and children who formed the nation's industrial workforce began to demand higher wages, shorter working hours, and a greater voice in corporate decision- making. The story of these common workers and their search for power is an important and fascinating aspect of American history; so important, in fact, that we will continue it in the next lecture: Labor and the Workers' Search for Power. Lec re 06 Rela ed Web Link Content Presentation Audience Link Info Colle ge "Ma king Microsoft Sa fe for Ca pita lism ," by Ja m e s Gle ick Colle ge "W e a lth," by Andre w Ca rne gie Colle ge W illia m Gra ha m Sum ne r-- Socia l Da rw inism a nd la isse z -fa ire ca pita lism Colle ge Hora tio Alge r, Jr. Re source s Colle ge "The De a th of Da rw inism ," by Ge orge Sim Johnston Colle ge "Evolution a nd Philosophy: Doe s Evolution Ma ke Might Right?" by John W ilkins Skip Dire ctly To Le cture : 01 us.histor .wisc.edu/hist102/lectures/lecture06.html 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 7/7 ...
View Full Document

Ask a homework question - tutors are online