Gilded Age & Big Business and & Semi-Organized Labor

Click here if you want the prof’s textbook version explained in class. Link Address:

Lesson 1—like the other Lessons—provides a copy of the section of the Study Guide for this lesson.

Key Background on the Gilded Age—and the Future

1.      13th amendment

2.      Defeat of the South, but Andrew Johnson

3.      Southern black codes and race riots

4.      Reconstruction, and military reconstruction

5.      14th amendment

·        “due process” and states

·        citizenship - and why necessary

6.      15th amendment

7.      Scandals in Grant’s terms

8.      Election of 1876, Compromise of 1877, and troops


Lesson 1 --------------------------------------------------------------
Use the 3 Learning Quizzes 1st.
Gilded Age (meaning of the term)

9.      Republican Party, policy pre-Civil War/post-secession

10.   Republican party, early years of Gilded Age

11.   Rise of Industrial Capitalism and:

·        Rockefeller and his industry

·        Carnegie and his industry

·        Horizontal integration / vertical integration

·        Monopoly, trust (and anti-trust)

12.   Rise of financial capitalism and J.P. Morgan

13.   Technology 1877-1887 (mainly for new industries)

14.   Technology 1887-1893 (mainly for urban life)

15.   North, workers in big business

·        Average work week/pay/living costs for laborers

·        Child labor – why?

·        Types of Unions
- Knights of Labor (industrial- attempted)
- American Federation of Labor (union of unions—only skilled trade unions)

·        Strikes (Haymarket, Homestead, Pullman)

16.   Prohibition (WCTU) – President Frances Willard  (1873 to end of the 1800s and beyond)

Key Background on the Gilded Age—and the Future

The items about the end of the Civil War and about Reconstruction are in date order and from the in-class quiz at the beginning the course:


Amendment to the Constitution that ended slavery – 13th


Defeat of the South and surrender at Appomattox


Southern state legislatures create black codes; race riots in the South against blacks


Amendment to the Constitution that required states (not just Congress) to follow “due process” – 14th


Amendment granting the vote to all males – 15th


Reconstruction, including military


Rising corruption in the federal government 1868-1876 and rising violence against black voters in the South


Election of 1876, Compromise of 1877, and Union troops out of the South

Gilded Age—Meaning of the Term and Who Named the Age

From a novel in the early 1870s, The Gilded Age and most associated with humorist Mark Twain. Want to understand this better? Look up these 2 words in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

·        The phrase golden age

·        The word gild or gilded

Vocabulary Words – Why Vocabulary? Because they are words you need to understand in multiple places.

The first 4 laws listed are in time order and all are passed by the Republicans during the Civil War while all of the South is out of the Union. The fifth is in 1873. These laws will major issues throughout Unit 1 (and beyond) and they help some and hurt others. The first row shows an example.    Symbols Used: ü = the law helps.    X = the law hurts

Regions and Groups and

Consequences of

These Laws








New West

Farmer with land

Farmer landless

Factory Owner

Skilled Worker

Unskilled Worker

Railroad Owner

Railroad Worker



Middle Class Professional

Protective tariff
















Homestead Act
















Railroad building subsidized by land grants (Called internal improvements in US History I)
















National banking system and a uniform currency
















1873 Currency and gold standard
















Corruption and Congress

The party of Lincoln that ended slavery changed to corruption (shown in blue) with newspapers being the ones to expose them. For examples, click on 1867_1877_Andrew Johnson_to_Hayes Color Coded to Show Trends. (Link Address:

Video: The Gilded Age       Search Word: corruption - 1st use “golden age of American corruption”

Railroads as the Stimulant

Video: The Gilded Age       Search Word: summary

Rise of Industrial Capitalism and 2 New Industries

Horizontal and vertical integration are still legal issues in mergers.

·        Meaning of Industrial Capitalism

·        Prior legal concepts used for new purposes:

o   Incorporation

o   Trusts – and Anti-Trust (not until 1895)

·        Horizontal (Rockefeller) integration (all the oil) and examples of how he created monopoly:

o   Rebate

o   Drawback

o   And counting his nails

·        Vertical (Carnegie) integration (all from the mines to the mills to transport)

Shift to Finance Capitalism by the End of the Gilded Age

·        Control of the industry by bankers

·        Major figure - J.P. Morgan - remains powerful until the crash of 1929

·        Railroads – the first to fall under the control of finance capitalism because of over-building

Technology 1870-1887 - New Industries


Standard Oil – John D. Rockefeller


Carnegie Steel – Andrew Carnegie


Thomas Alva Edison – Menlo Park


Alexander Graham Bell – telephone

Patent: phonograph < What’s a patent?


Patent: typewriter  < Why need? Why QWERTY keyboard?


Patent: cash register < Why need?


1880s Trends, Railroad – pool, short haul, long haul

For more, click on Study Tool: Chronological Events of the 1877-1887 Era  Link Address:

Technology 1887-1890s - New Inventions for Urban Life

·        elevator

·        skyscraper – Louis Sullivan

·        streetcars

·        suburbs

·        subways

·        tenement

·        tenement, dumbbell

Conditions of Farmers

What’s happening to farming?


1873 $1.16/bushel − wheat

1874 $0.95/bushel

1889 $0.70/bushel

1874 $0.64/bushel − corn

1875 $0.42/bushel


1867 – 33% farms – tenancy

1900 – 70% farms – tenancy

tenant – tenant “owned” crop

sharecropper – owner “owned” crop

furnish merchant – interest to 50%


1870 – 3.1M cotton bales

1880 – 5.7M cotton bales

1881 $0.11/pound − cotton (10 cents/pound break even)

1890 $0.085/pound

1894 $0.046/pound

Conditions of Factory Labor

·        Page 2 – Averages, national

Pre-1900 60-hr., 6 day/week  - 20 cents/hr. if skilled.  10 cents/hr. if not

Average income - $400-$500/yr.

Minimum cost of living – family of $4 = $600/yr.

·        Page 2 – Factory, South

12 hrs/day – frequently women/children

½ pay rate of North

For more, click Snapshot of America in the 1870s-1890s  Link Address:

Laborers’ Attempts to Organize

Two different approaches to organizing workers:

o   Knights of Labor

o   American Federation of Labor

Before looking at the table/chart, what do these words mean?

o   Pinkertons

o   State militia

o   Federal troops

·        Without answers for self-testing: Comparison of Labor Events from 1874 through 1893 – and to the End of the 1890s

·        With answers for observing patterns: Comparison with Answers
Purpose: Notice where is the labor unrest and in what industries. Notice how strikes are stopped—is that what you expected to be the method?

Significant Examples of Strikes in the Gilded Age

·        Haymarket – 1886 Chicago - What’s anarchism? Socialism?

Video: Labor’s Struggle       Search Word: Haymarket

·       Homestead – 1892 Pennsylvania – A Carnegie plant.

Video: Labor’s Struggle       Search Word: Homestead

·       Pullman – 1894 Pullman, Illinois – Company town (away from other working places) with a factory making Pullman cars. Lowering of wages, but not lowering of prices in the company store or the rent on houses. Strike, observations by the governor of the state (Altgeld). Lowering of wages remains.

Video: Labor’s Struggle       Search Word: Pullman

Early Attempt to Deal with Problems in America

WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance Union) from about 1873 to the end of 1800s, but they still exist today

·       Leader: Frances Willard (gender?)

·       Major Issue: Temperance – with the Anti-Saloon League developing later and the result of the 18th Amendment (for a while)

·       Later Issue: Women’s suffrage