Video Lecture about the Rise of Industry

American Inventors and Entrepreneurs

Andrew Carnegie

After relocating to the US, Andrew Carnegie worked in the textile mill as a “bobbin boy”, in the Pennsylvania Railroad Company where he operated as a secretary and, later, in steel industry. The theory of vertical integration used by Carnegie involved owning all the distribution chain of the steel industry. He managed it by controlling all parts of the manufacturing process starting from steel raw materials to the stage of the distribution. Andrew Carnegie became a renowned philanthropist after he had sold his business for around $500 million and gave out ninety percent of his wealth to the foundations and charities.

John D. Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller accumulated a lot of his wealth from the sale of the Standard Oil. This was the only oil company at that time; thus, he had a monopoly as it controlled ninety percent of the market. Rockefeller gained a competitive edge over his rivals by discounting shipping charges. However, after getting rid of the competition, he would raise the prices. His company, Standard Oil, was likened to “a greedy octopus” because it managed every sector of the market controlling the processes of production, transportation, refining, shipping the refined products and oil sales. As a result, small companies were devoured and fell prey to the Standard Oil monopoly.

Rockefeller created a monopoly using the theory of the vertical integration. This is a situation when a company owns both the supplier and the manufacturer. This leads to the control of every sector. Rockefeller's Standard Oil took over the supply and distribution of both raw and finished products thereby pushing out the small companies.

Vertical integration is contrasted with the horizontal one. The latter is an approach when the company acquires its rivals until it gains control of the largest part of the market. Rockefeller made an arrangement with the railroad company to transport his oil at a lower price, and, in return, he gave them a share of the profit (Norton, Kamensky, Sheriff, Blight, & Chudakoff, 2011). The oil prices of other businesses that did not have such a deal were rather high compared to Rockefeller's ones. As a result, many people purchased his product driving other companies out of the market that enabled him to get to the top in the industry.

Thomas Edison

First of all, Edison's inventions include the phonograph that first used the paraffin. He also invented motion picture camera and perfected the light bulb. In 1876, Edison opened a research laboratory in Menlo Park which earned the name "invention factory" because the man together with his employees worked on several different designs at any given time there. It was the place where phonography was invented. A variety of new products were developed at the Menlo Park factory because he worked with different research teams.

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The US: The Cost of the Industrialization

By 1900, the US had become a leading industrial power but this came at a price. Industrialization led to the environmental degradation; the gases released into the atmosphere posed a threat to humans’ lives. Rivers and streams were influenced negatively as most of the waste products were disposed of into the ocean, and this endangered the lives of aquatic animals and plants. The process also caused the dilapidation of the natural resources such as coal, iron and metal.

Furthermore, regular work in the factory was no better than the daily work on the farm since people had to spend long hours performing their duties. Thus, having a job on the plant was not always an improvement of the life on the farm. However, the work on the farm was flexible and offered a wide variety of tasks unlike in the factory.

Understanding the Evolution of Factory Work and Labor and Labor Unions

Before the introduction of the plants, people produced goods in their homes. Workers took pride in their labor, and they conducted activities at their own pace. On the contrary, large factories had some norms, the tasks were repetitive, and the pace was set by the clock and whistle. The nature of work in every early American factory was characterized by very long working hours ranging from 55 to 66 per week and dangerous working conditions. In the year 1889, over 2,900 railway workers died, and 20,000 were injured.

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At the end of 1900, workers in the industry were paid in accordance to their jobs as skilled or unskilled ones. The South Mill workers who were unskilled had the lowest salary and only got 84 cents per day. It is necessary to mention that children and women were also employed in the factories. It can be explained by the fact that females could be paid less compared to their male counterparts. Children also earned lower wages; moreover, their physical size allowed them to do the jobs the grown-ups could not.

Labor unions came into existence as a result of a reaction towards the excessive exploitation in the factories. Most associations that were formed including the Knights of Labor union were open to male workers and white citizens. All black and female workers were excluded.

The goals of the mentioned above organization were: to fight for the reduction of the working hours to eight; to ensure equal pay for female workers; to revise the payment system and to reduce the number of Chinese migrants. 

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