History 1502 Midterm Study Guide
“In the Gilded Age – indeed, even long after the Gilded Age ended – members of the new industrial upper class (entrepreneurs, captains of industry, robber barons, or whatever else you want to call them) continually sought to concentrate wealth into their own hands – one of the major results of what economic historians have termed “divergence.” After first explaining the concept of divergence, go on to examine how, during the Gilded Age, the upper class attempted both to build and then concentrate wealth – both their successes and their failures.
What critique did capitalists like Albert Augustus Pope make of competition? -competition is not beneficial, it leads to many companies producing the same thing which in turn causes overproduction. Overproduction causes falling prices which puts companies out of business
How did they attempt to avoid competition?
- The “solution” was to temporarily use a patent which would allow one company to create a monopoly and not worry about competition
What had occurred in the sewing machine industry after the original Howe patent had expired?
- “When Howe’s patent for the sewing machine expired in 1877, production and sales were dominated by the four companies that joined with Howe in 1856 to form the Sewing Machine Combination, the first of the massive ‘trusts’ that dominated American – and global – industry in the late 1800s and early 1900s: A. B. Howe (owned by Elias’s brother, Amasa), Singer, Wheeler & Wilson (based in Bridgeport, CT), and Grove & Baker. The Combination also sold licenses to other manufacturers, but at $15 per machine the price was steep enough to discourage competition. Still, 36 different companies produced sewing machines in these years, and sales increased briskly each decade, from about 2,500 machines in 1853, to around 50,000 in 1863, to more than 667,500 in 1873.” (Sewing Revolution: The Machine That Changed the World, Jamie H. Eves, Beverly L. York, Carol Buch, and Michele Palmer, Windham Textile and History Museum)
If you want to learn more check out Are viruses smaller than bacteria?
What role did entrepreneurs think that technology played in generating wealth? Patents? What strategies did entrepreneurs follow when their patents began to expire? - Wealth and riches were a result of technological advances
- When patents expired, the problem of overproduction was re-introduced - A businessman/ company went on to switch to a different product using new technology in hopes of gaining success again
- “Stayed on top of the technology curve”
What role did corporations play in the concentration of wealth? Trusts? Vertical and horizontal integration? Monopoly? Oligopoly? Department stores? Chain stores? Company stores? Company housing? Catalog stores?
- Corporations made it easier for wealth to be concentrated in the hands of the rich - Conglomerates and trusts:
- Came to begin when several corporations united together to form one big super-sized corporations (think of octopus cartoon viewed in class)
- Legal mechanisms to gain control of many corporations (making a
- Vertical integration: ex) Rockefeller’s Standard Oil We also discuss several other topics like What happens during double fertilization?
- his country controlled everything from the well companies to the pipe
- Horizontal integration: ex) 1898 American Thread Company
- just tried to buy out all other thread companies (if they practiced vertical integration, they would have tried to also buy the farms where the cotton was grown HOWEVER, that is not horizontal integration)
- Department stores (like Macy’s) pushed small businesses out of the picture -Chain stores (A&P Grocery Store Chain)
-Catalog Stores (Sears Roebuck catalog, shopping through mail) -> today's equivalent would be Amazon
By 1920, what proportion of American wealth was controlled by the upper class?” - The upper class consisted of businessmen including:
- John D. Rockefeller
- Andrew Carnigie
- J.P. Morgan
- Cornelius Vanderbilt (Breaker mansions in Rhode Island)
- By 1920, 1% of Americans owned 33% of wealth
“Industrialization transformed American society and culture in many ways. In the Gilded Age – during the Second Industrial Revolution – new social classes expanded and became typical of the new society. In 1790, America had been an agrarian society composed of both small family farms and sprawling plantations. As industry expanded, however, more and more people worked in manufacturing and commerce. The new socio-economic classes – upper class, middle class, and working class – had dissimilar lifestyles – which was one of the major results of what economic historians have termed “divergence.” After first explaining the concept of divergence, go on to examine the lifestyles of these expanding new classes, focusing primarily on the middle and working classes. We also discuss several other topics like What is the meaning of the writing hypothesis?
- Divergence: gaps between the different social classes grew, as:
- The wealthy became wealthier
- The middle class became more affluent, however not as fast a rate s tje upper class
- The working class “lost ground”
- The poor became poorer
- The wealth was concentrated to a few people
Upper-class lifestyle: owned mansions, had domestic workers, lived in luxury -increased corporations, increased wealth, and monopolies
Middle-class lifestyle: some lived the American Dream, others were striving to become upper-class citizens We also discuss several other topics like What is the meaning of computer literacy?
- Worked 6 days a week, but only needed one wage per family for salaries were sufficient
- Most men worked, most women stayed at home
- Mostly suburban, and likely to be WASPs
- High school education
- Middle- class people have servants (the working class people are servants) - Had time for recreation electricity and homes became popularized in
- IN ALL, the middle class lived a good quality of life but were not thriving the way upper- class citizens were
Working-class lifestyle: lived a poor life, strived to reach a middle-class standing - Worked 6 days a week, usually piecework
- Two or more incomes were needed per family, for wages were low
- Feminization of workforce- about ⅓ of workers were women
- Began to work as children (10- 12 yrs. Of age) Don't forget about the age old question of The community antenna television is also known as what?
We also discuss several other topics like What are the two ways to move charges?
- Mostly poor urban areas
- More likely than upper or middle class citizens to be immagrants
- Usually elementary school education
How were they similar? How were they different?
- Working and middle class families were similar because both classes tried to reach a higher class
- Some obvious differences included the amount of money families had, the amount families worked, and of course the quality of life that they lived
- Middle and upper class families enjoyed life far more than those who were struggling to get by
What is the significance of the concepts of the working class life cycle and the family economy?
- The working class continuously worked but were always faced with a point in their lives were the wages they made weren’t enough
- It was nearly impossible to get pulled up to a higher social class so they themselves worked and had children so their children could work too
- Since offspring went to factory jobs rather than school, they did not gain an education that would help them break the cycle, so they, like their parents, are trapped
- (reference “The Life Cycle of a Working-Class Woman” in the Divergence powerpoint)
How was the new industrial society – and the lifestyles of the different classes – affected by immigration and urbanization?”
- New factories opened up in urban areas, which lead to job openings, which in turn led to more migrants in the area
- Urbanization and immigration went hands in hand
- With more immigrants in the urban areas, those regions became less pleasant due to overcrowding
- The quality of life for the working class decreased because their urban homes were more prone to the spread of disease
- Immigration also lead to urban sprawl, families (usually upper class and some middle class) moved farther out of cities and into suburbs, thus suburbs were expanding
- Middle and upper class families moved to less crowded areas, established neighborhoods and lived in nicer homes with bigger yards (separated them more from the working class
- Reference the “Flight of the Cotton Fairies” reading
● After reviewing these notes, formulate your own responses using evidence from homework readings! :)