Discussion #9: How Has The Automobile Impacted American Society? In the 1950s the United States enjoyed a broad-based, unprecedented level of prosperity. R

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Discussion #9: How Has The Automobile Impacted American Society? In the 1950s the United States enjoyed a broad-based, unprecedented level of prosperity. Rising purchasing power, expanding credit, and a rapidly growing advertising industry stimulated consumerism. One industry that rapidly developed and expanded was the automobile industry. During the 1950s, Americans purchased 58 million cars. By 1960, 75 percent of American families owned one. The automobile created mobility on a scale not known before, and the automobile industry became a vital element in the economy. It became one of the world’s major manufacturing industries. The automobile dramatically impacted American society, whether you owned one or not.

Review and identify relevant sections of Chapters 19, 20, and 28 that address support for your discussion. 
Identify and use at least one outside source for your discussion.  Sources must be cited in your discussion.  If a link is available, please provide it.

After you have completed your readings post your response to only ONE of the following questions.

Discuss how the automobile positively or negatively impacted American society.  
Do you agree or disagree with the the assessment that has been made on the importance of the automobile? Chapter 19: The New Industrial Order 1870 to 1900



The New Industrial Order 1870 to1900

“What set the new industrial economy apart from that older America was the scale and efficiency of using resources. New technologies made it possible to employ natural riches in ways undreamed of only decades earlier.”

What’s to Come

The Development of Industrial Systems

Railroads: America’s First Big Business

The Growth of Big Business

The Workers’ World

The Systems of Labor

The Development of Industrial Systems (1)

Natural Resources and Industrial Technology

New scale and efficiency in using resources
Bessemer process

Industrial technology made some resources more valuable
Petroleum industry
Environmental price soon became evident

Systematic Invention

Dramatic increase in number of patents granted
“Invention factories” replaced small-scale inventors
Thomas Alva Edison; George Eastman

Steel Production, 1880 and 1914

While steel production jumped in western industrial nations from 1880 to 1914, it skyrocketed in the United States because of rich resources, cheap labor, and aggressive management. Image: ©Everett Collection/SuperStock

The Development of Industrial Systems (2)

Transportation and Communication

Efficient methods were needed to span the country’s huge distances and tie it into an emerging international system
Value of American exports tripled

Rail and water transportation systems fused
Telegraph provided nearly instantaneous communication (1844)
Telephone improved on the telegraph (1876)

The Development of Industrial Systems (3)

A young Alexander Graham Bell with an early version of his “speaking telegraph.” ©The Granger Collection, New York

The Development of Industrial Systems (4)

Finance Capital

wealth grew, there was more to save and invest
Complex network of financial institutions developed
New York Stock Exchange

The Corporation

Numerous advantages:
Could raise large sums of money
Would outlive its owners
Had limited liability
Separated owners from day-to-day management

The Development of Industrial Systems (5)

An International Pool of Labor

1900, there were about 20 million industrial workers in the U.S.
Relied in part on a vast global labor network

Immigrants relied on migration chains of friends and family, and on labor contractors
Domestic sources included rural Americans
African Americans faced continued discrimination


Between 1880 and 1920, management and industrial work—employing white-and blue-collar workers—grew at the expense of farm work.

Railroads: America’s First Big Business (1)

A Managerial Revolution

New systems of management devised by trunk lines
Four great trunk lines under a single management
New managerial elite, beneath owners but with wide authority over operations
First table of organization drawn up for the New York and Erie in the 1950s

Time zones created

Railroads: America’s First Big Business (2)

Competition and Consolidation

Competition produced rate wars and secret “rebates”
65 lines had declared bankruptcy

Consolidation worked better
Regional federations set prices—but ultimately failed

The Challenge of Finance

New ways of raising money
New York Stock Exchange
Investment bankers advising companies about their business affairs

New regularity of travel allowed for planning

MAP 19.1: RAILROADS, 1870 to 1890

By 1890 the railroad network stretched from one end of the country to the other, with more miles of track than in all of Europe combined. New York City and Chicago, linked by the New York Central trunk line, became the new commercial axis.

The Growth of Big Business (1)

Strategies of Growth

Salt producers drew together in the nation’s first pool
Industries specializing in consumer goods had low start-up costs and were plagued with competition

With horizontal combination, competing businesses joined loosely together
With a vertical-growth strategy, a company gained control of two or more stages of a business operation
Moved producers closer to the marketplace

John D. Rockefeller

The Growth of Big Business (2)

Carnegie Integrates Steel

After seeing the Bessemer process in England, Andrew Carnegie built the biggest steel mill in the world
Over 25 years, added mills and moved from railroad-building to city-building

Carnegie succeeded by taking advantage of the boom-and-bust cycle
Employed skilled managers
Knew how to compete
Expanded both horizontally and vertically

The Growth of Big Business (3)

Rockefeller and the Great Standard Oil Trust

Vertical expansion—oil pipelines, warehouses, and barrel factories
“Drawbacks” from the railroads
Development of the trust

The Mergers of J. Pierpont Morgan

Beginning of the “holding company”
Held stock in other companies

Wave of mergers swept through American businesses

The Growth of Big Business (4)

Corporate Defenders

Carnegie preached a “gospel of wealth”
Rich act as stewards for the poor

Ordinary workers who failed to succeed were unfit
Herbert Spencer’s “Social Darwinism”

“‘Such ‘social Darwinism’ found strong support among turn-of-the-century business leaders. The philosophy certified their success even as they worked to destroy the very competitiveness it celebrated.”

The Growth of Big Business (5)

Corporate Critics

Henry George: large landowners were the source of inequality
Proposed a single tax on “unearned” profits

Bellamy, Looking Backward (1888)
Socialist Labor Party formed in 1877
Socialists attracted more intellectuals than workers

Sherman Antitrust Act
Gave government the power to break up big businesses
United States v. E. C. Knight Co. limited its application

The Growth of Big Business (6)

The Costs of Doing Business

Big businesses increased wealth and tied the country together but also corrupted politics and increased the gap between rich and poor
Practices contributed to a boom-and-bust cycle
Three severe depressions rocked the economy in the last third of the nineteenth century

Evident environmental costs prompted early studies of climate change
British scientist John Tyndall
Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius


Between 1865 and 1900, industrialization produced great economic growth but also wild swings of prosperity and depression. During booms, productivity soared, and near-full employment existed. But the rising number of industrial workers meant high unemployment during deep busts.

The Workers’ World (1)

Industrial Work

Common characteristics
Mass production; division of labor into repetitive tasks; dictatorship of the clock

Industrial accidents killed and injured
Workers presumed at fault

“Taylorism,” developed through time-and-motion studies, prescribed strict work routines
Workers sought control as citizens of a democracy
Many expected money sufficient to support and educate, as well as enough time to stay abreast of current affairs

The Workers’ World (2)

Children, Women, and African Americans at Work

average, children worked 60 hours a week
Even more than women, African American men faced discrimination in the workplace

The American Dream of Success

Most wage earners made some gains in terms of buying power
Some laborers entered the lower middle class in their lifetime; others climbed in financial status

The Workers’ World (3)

Clerks’ jobs, traditionally held by men, came to be filled by women as growing industrial networks created more managerial jobs for men. Here a factory floor full of neatly dressed female clerks work at their “Type-Writers,” patented first in 1868. ©Bettmann/Getty Images

The Systems of Labor (1)

Early Unions

National Labor Union (NLU) swelled to more than 600,000 members by the early 1870s
Pressed for the eight-hour workday
Wilted during the depression of 1873

The Knights of Labor

Initially small and secretive
Terence Powderly elected to a leadership role in 1879
Looked to abolish the wage system and replace it with a cooperative economy

The Systems of Labor (2)

The American Federation of Labor (AFL)

Organization of highly skilled craftworkers
Led by Samuel Gompers
Preserved the privileges of craftsmen and accepted their prejudices, allowing most affiliates to restrict woman and black membership

Laboring classes failed to organize themselves as systematically as the barons of industry
Separated by different languages and nationalities
Divided by race and gender
Often regarded collective action as un-American

The Systems of Labor (3)

The Limits of Industrial Systems

Wave of labor activism brought spontaneous protests and work stoppages
First nationwide strike, the Great Railroad Strike, took place in 1877
Crushed after 12 bloody days

1886, tensions exploded in the “Great Upheaval”—a series of strikes, boycotts, and rallies
Haymarket Square riot became known as the “Haymarket Massacre”

The Systems of Labor (4)

In this painting by Robert Koehler, The Strike(1886), labor confronts management in a strike that may soon turn bloody. One worker reaches for a stone as an anxious mother and her daughter look on.Source: Library of Congress, Prints and PhotographsDivision

The Systems of Labor (5)

Management Strikes Back

Union members barred; strikes broken
Pullman strike

Employers fought unions with “yellow dog” contracts, blacklists, and lockouts
Injunctions were introduced to prohibit certain actions, such as strikes

“In a matter of only 30 or 40 years, the new industrial order transformed the landscape of America.”

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