The Age of Big Business

"The wealthy class is becoming more wealthy; but the poorer class is becoming
 more dependent. The gulf between the employed and the employer is growing
 wider; social contrasts are becoming sharper; as liveried carriages appear, so
 do barefooted children."



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  • "old" & "new" immigration
  • Chinese Exclusion Act
  • Sherman Anti-Trust Act
  • United States v. E. C. Knight Company
  • Padrone system
  • National Labor Union / William Sylvis
  • Knights of Labor / Uriah Stephens & Terence Powderly
  • American Federation of Labor / Adolph Strasser & Samuel Gompers
  • Baltimore & Ohio strike
  • Haymarket Square riot
  • Homestead strike
  • Pullman strike
  • Eugene Debs
  • Interstate Commerce Act
  • F. W. Woolworth
  • Frank Sprague
  • John Roebling
  • Frederick Law Olmsted
  • George Ferris
  • Cincinnati Red Stockings
  • Hull House / Jane Addams & Ellen Gates Starr
  • Jacob Riis
  • National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry / Oliver Kelley
  • Munn v. Illinois
  • Chautauqua Movement
  • John Dewey
  • Rerum novarum
  • realism & naturalism
  • laissez faire
  • "economic democracy"
  • "industrial aristocracy"
  • John D. Rockefeller
  • J. Pierpont Morgan
  • Leland Stanford
  • Cornelius Vanderbilt
  • Jay Gould
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • The Gospel of Wealth
  • "robber barons" vs. "caretakers of society"
  • Thorstein Veblen
  • Henry George
  • Horatio Alger
  • Russell Conwell
  • Social Darwinism / Herbert Spencer & William Graham Sumner
  • Lester Frank Ward

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson


  • Russell Conwell: "Acres of Diamonds" Sermon (c. 1880)
  • Andrew Carnegie: "Wealth" in North American Review (1889)
  • Jacob Riss: Description of New York City tenement life in How the Other Half Lives (1890)




1.  Account for the interrelated themes of industrialization, urbanization, and
     immigration during the immediate decades after the Civil War.

2.  In what ways did the Industrial Age affect the big cities? Overall, were the effects
     positive or negative?

3.  Explain the expansion of the railroad industry and discuss the impact of the industry
     on the American economy, perceptions of time and space, technology, and business

4.  "The attempt of the federal government to regulate the railroad industry simply
     resulted in the substitution of new evils for old ones." Assess the validity of this

5.  Explain and evaluate the ideologies of Social Darwinism, The Gospel of Wealth, and
     laissez faire capitalism. Discuss the impact of these concepts on the labor force and
     the role of government in society.

6.  Select any two of the following individuals and give an account of their philosophies
     and contributions to the Industrial Age—Horatio Alger; Andrew Carnegie; Henry
     George; Samuel Gompers; William Graham Sumner; Thorstein Veblen.


  1. During the last three decades of the nineteenth century, Americans seemed to place high value on all of the following except
    1. aggressive business tactics.
    2. progress and technology.
    3. material wealth.
    4. political integrity.

  2. The changes that occurred in America over the last third of the 1800s were
    1. somewhat expected.
    2. carefully planned.
    3. relatively minor.
    4. amazingly rapid.

  3. The first federal measure to restrict immigration was passed in 1882 to
    1. establish yearly allowable quotas for several European countries.
    2. prohibit Mexicans and Canadians from freely crossing the border.
    3. limit the number of entry ports in the United States.
    4. exclude the Chinese.

  4. All of the following are directly linked to the railroad industry except
    1. invention of barbed wire.
    2. the Gadsden Purchase.
    3. formation of standard time zones.
    4. the Interstate Commerce Act.

  5. The primary purpose of the formation of trusts during the latter part of the 1800s was to increase profit by
    1. eliminating competition.
    2. making available a greater variety of raw materials.
    3. evading the taxes on private income.
    4. lowering interest rates.

The concept for Mount Rushmore was proposed in 1923 by Doane Robinson of the South Dakota State Historical Society. The federal government officially approved two years later. In the meantime, organizers had secured Gutzon Borglum, the son of an immigrant Dane, to design and supervise the massive undertaking. By virtue of being "in the center of America," Borglum deemed South Dakota an appropriate home for "a monument of [such] national significance." Click on the faces to access LECTURE GUIDE for this unit.


"Another One Bites The Dust"   by Queen