Gilded Age & Big Business and & Semi-Organized Labor

We precede this section with brief backgrounds on the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Compromise of 1877, and the Constitution. If you do not know what the term organized labor means, please ask. Tip: italic—like the prior lettersis used for words used as words.)

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

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

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

2.       Republican party, early years of Gilded Age

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

4.       Prohibition (WCTU) – President Frances Willard

5.       Rise of Industrial Capitalism and:

·         Rockefeller and his industry

·         Carnegie and his industry

·         Horizontal integration / vertical integration

·         Monopoly, trust (and anti-trust)

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

7.       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)

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


This world of about 1877 to 1890s is different than before.

1.      The name itself- The Gilded 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

2.      Using this link Summary of Political Parties, what does the Republican Party become:

·         By 1860 – See Evolution of Republican Issues

·         After secession of the South - Republican Issues Revealed by Post-Secession Actions

3.      Industrial capitalism and new industries building on:

·         Prior legal concepts (incorporation, trusts) used for new purposes

·         Horizontal (Rockefeller) integration (all the oil) – Examples of how he created monopoly.

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

4.      Finance capitalism and J.P. Morgan (Part of this is covered with the Panic of 1893 and the disasters that follow.)

5.      What are the new technologies for business and for urban life and what are a few examples of what they do to and for people?

o   Study Tool: Chronological Events of the 1877-1887 Era - Look at the column US Economic Development.
Purpose: Notice the technologies are primarily about new industries.

o   Study Tool: Chronological Events of the 1887-1893 Era - Look at the list of inventions beneath the table.
Purpose: Notice the technologies are primarily about urban life.

6.      What are the early attempts to deal with problems in America? (More are covered in Lesson 2.)
Example: 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

7.      What happens to laboring people—and who are they and what are the differences in what they have to sell?
Snapshot of America in the 1870s-1890s (PDF) – This provides a searchable resource.


8.       What are laborers’ attempts to organize, what’s the difference in the Knights of Labor and the American Federation of labor, and what is the response to labor by varied levels of government and business?
What do these words mean: Pinkertons, state militia, federal troops?

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

o   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?

What are these labor events and how do they reveal unions and big business at this time. (You are not expected to be able to recognize details but to understand these as significant examples of what happened in the Gilded Age. They are usually very different from what freshman students expect.)

·         Haymarket – 1886 Chicago - What’s anarchism? Socialism?
Police and a peaceful demonstration where someone throws a bomb. Police shoot into the crowd. Trial is usually discussed as having false testimony.

·         Homestead – 1892 Pennsylvania – A Carnegie plant. Lowering of wages, the Pinkertons and a gun battle with the union and assistance from the government. Lowering of wages remains.

·         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. Strike, observations by the governor of the state (Altgeld). Lowering of wages remains.