Business leaders

In the 1860s, John D. Rockefeller set out to create an oil monopoly. His decision to buy up the railroad companies that transported oil, rather than smaller oil companies themselves, exemplified the aggressive, practical intelligence of the “robber barons”: “Refusing them shipping, or simply raising their fees, could ruin their business. Rockefeller altered the playing field so that the only options the small oil producers had were the ones he gave them”.

Business leaders such as Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie marshalled organizational schemes that proved immensely effective in establishing their power. Some of these organizational schemes were readily suppressed by governmental intervention. Influential stockholders of companies of the same industry would agree to limit production, set prices, and share profits. The 1887 Interstate Commerce Act outlawed such activities; the bill was passed with the intent of regulating the railroads, but was little enforced. The commission in charge of enforcement comprised former railroad executives and individuals in favor of the interests of the railroads.

Another popular method of business organization was the creation of trusts, an organizational technique perfected by John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil. At the time, state laws prohibited one corporation from holding stock in another. However, it was legal to create a trust, by which stockholders in a smaller oil company could be “persuaded” to give control of their shares in that company “in trust” to the board of trees of Standard Oil. Using this technique, Standard Oil established a horizontal integration of the oil industry in the early 1880s, meaning that the board of trustees of Standard Oil also controlled many the oil-producing companies. Standard Oil expanded in the late 1880s even further by becoming a holding company. In 1888 New Jersey passed new legislation allowing businesses incorporated there to own stock in other corporations.

Standard Oil stockholders began to buy up shares in other companies as well; under the regulations for a holding company, management of various companies could be joint as well. Standard Oil stockholders became the majority holders in other oil companies, allowing Standard Oil management to run these companies also. By the early 1890s Standard Oil had merged 43 oil-producing companies together under their control and produced nearly 90 percent of all oil in America. Standard Oil also achieved vertical integration when the company not only moved to control production but also the marketing and distribution of the finished product. Similar examples of vertical integration were found in many other companies, as in Gustavus Swift’s similar control over the meat-processing industry. Carnegie Steel’s operation is often cited as the best example of vertical integration in this era.

In the ethical treatment of the economic activities that ensued during the Gilded Age, the philosopher Herbert Spencer became intrigued by Darwinism and natural selection, which held that only the most well-adapted individuals in a population will survive and reproduce. Spencer suggested a parallel between economics and nature, coining the phrase “survival of the fittest” to describe the competition among human individuals and groups. He argued that human progress resulted from the triumph of more advanced individuals and cultures over their inferior competitors. He advocated a laissez-faire political and economic system that favors competition and self-interest in social and business affairs. Read also what can be concluded about the demise of the knights of labor?

Through publications Spencer labeled the labor-fueled capitalist movement as Social Darwinism. American social philosopher William Graham Sumner popularized this theory, which found ready acceptance among the economically dominant of the era. Cornelius Vanderbilt represented the “robber baron” character of these men, asking, “‘Can’t I do what I want with my own?’ So did his son William, with his oft-quoted statement: ‘the public be damned.’ Once… bellowed: ‘What do I care about the law? H’aint I got the power?'”.

Some successful capitalists nonetheless supported the concept of privileged philanthropy, as explained by Andrew Carnegie in The Gospel of Wealth.. According to this theory, the major role of America’s industrialists was to act as the “guardians” of the wealth of America. Carnegie asserted that it was the duty of the wealthy to return a large portion of their wealth to the community. To the credit of both Rockefeller and Carnegie, foundations they established have made postmortem contributions of over $650 million to various educational and artistic ventures. At its peak, Rockefeller’s personal fortune was estimated at almost $1 billion. The total amount of his philanthropic contributions was about $550 million.

Labor’s reaction to the ascendence of capital was both necessary and ineluctable. As was the case in the Homestead Strike of 1892, corporations would send Pinkerton guards to end strikes. One of the most violent strikes in labor history was called by the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin workers against the Homestead Steel Works after the workers refused to accept a wage cut and negotiations failed.

The Steel Works was a subsidiary of Carnegie Steel Company, and Henry Clay Frick was chairman of the board of directors at the time. His strong anti-labor manner led to his hiring of Pinkerton detectives. On orders, they opened fire on the picket lines, inciting a riot resulting in the death of several men, and the wounding of even more. On July 10, 1892, the governor called out the state militia. Strikers, who had previously been in control of the town, were dispersed, and nonunion labor was brought in under militia protection. Insidious business tactics like these ultimately proved to be either overlooked or cloaked under the protection of the government.

The major union to emerge from the 1870s was the Knights of Labor, which was founded in Philadelphia in 1869. Many earlier unions represented single crafts. The Knights of Labor opened their doors to both skilled and unskilled workers, and welcomed immigrants, blacks, and women as well. Membership in the Knights of Labor peaked around 750,000 in the mid-1880s. Brochures written by the Knights of Labor proposed an ideal model of a cooperative society. Their rhetoric, however, failed to reach any concrete realization, and in several large strikes, ownership refused to even negotiate with representatives of the union, causing it to gradually lose members. The Knights of Labor futher suffered a decline in membership as a result of the Haymarket Square riot.

The American Federation of Labor (A.F.L.) was the next major national labor organization to achieve national stature. Initially led by Samuel Gompers, the A.F.L. was organized by crafts and consisted almost exclusively in skilled workers. In contrast to the idealism of the Knights of Labor, the A.F.L. bargained for practical issues such as higher wages and shorter hours. By 1917 the A.F.L. had over 2.5 million members.

Although the union used strike tactics on many occasions it strenuously avoided the appearance of being controlled by radicals. Miners in the West also were engaged in labor activity, and in late 1905 helped to found the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.), which reflected the ideology of the Knights of Labor. Union literature was saturated with the Marxist themes and concepts of class conflict, violence, and the appeal of socialism. The union came to a conclusion during World War I when many of its leaders were jailed.

The labor movement proved fatally limited: Even by 1915 only 12 percent of the workforce was unionized. According to Burton W. Folsom, “irregardless of which government, whether federal, state, or local, or which commodity were involved, government-run businesses are considerably less efficient and prosperous than their free-market counterparts”. Through the laissez-faire policies of government in the Gilded Age, corporations gained unilateral advantage in the inevitable conflict with the labor force. The Second Industrial Revolution, propelled by a momentum rigged or no, transformed the climate of the American economy by redefining its parameters of power dynamics.


  1. Brinkley, Alan. American History: A Survey. 11th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.
  2. Greene, Robert. The 48 Laws of Power. New York: Penguin Books, 1998.

Calculate the price
Make an order in advance and get the best price
Pages (550 words)
*Price with a welcome 15% discount applied.
Pro tip: If you want to save more money and pay the lowest price, you need to set a more extended deadline.
We know how difficult it is to be a student these days. That's why our prices are one of the most affordable on the market, and there are no hidden fees.

Instead, we offer bonuses, discounts, and free services to make your experience outstanding.
How it works
Receive a 100% original paper that will pass Turnitin from a top essay writing service
step 1
Upload your instructions
Fill out the order form and provide paper details. You can even attach screenshots or add additional instructions later. If something is not clear or missing, the writer will contact you for clarification.
Pro service tips
How to get the most out of your experience with MyHomeworkGeeks
One writer throughout the entire course
If you like the writer, you can hire them again. Just copy & paste their ID on the order form ("Preferred Writer's ID" field). This way, your vocabulary will be uniform, and the writer will be aware of your needs.
The same paper from different writers
You can order essay or any other work from two different writers to choose the best one or give another version to a friend. This can be done through the add-on "Same paper from another writer."
Copy of sources used by the writer
Our college essay writers work with ScienceDirect and other databases. They can send you articles or materials used in PDF or through screenshots. Just tick the "Copy of sources" field on the order form.
See why 20k+ students have chosen us as their sole writing assistance provider
Check out the latest reviews and opinions submitted by real customers worldwide and make an informed decision.
Impressive writing
Customer 452547, February 6th, 2021
Business and administrative studies
Excellent job
Customer 452773, March 17th, 2023
Business and administrative studies
Customer 452773, February 23rd, 2023
English 101
IThank you
Customer 452631, April 6th, 2021
Business and administrative studies
Thank you
Customer 452773, March 19th, 2023
Business and administrative studies
Thank you for your hard work and help
Customer 452773, February 21st, 2023
Customer 452591, March 18th, 2021
English 101
great summery in terms of the time given. it lacks a bit of clarity but otherwise perfect.
Customer 452747, June 9th, 2021
Great job
Customer 452773, February 13th, 2023
Business and administrative studies
always perfect work and always completed early
Customer 452773, February 21st, 2023
Business and administrative studies
Customer 452773, March 3rd, 2023
Business and administrative studies
excellent work
Customer 452773, March 9th, 2023
Customer reviews in total
Current satisfaction rate
3 pages
Average paper length
Customers referred by a friend
15% OFF your first order
Use a coupon FIRST15 and enjoy expert help with any task at the most affordable price.
Claim my 15% OFF Order in Chat

Sometimes it is hard to do all the work on your own

Let us help you get a good grade on your paper. Get professional help and free up your time for more important courses. Let us handle your;

  • Dissertations and Thesis
  • Essays
  • All Assignments

  • Research papers
  • Terms Papers
  • Online Classes


eskişehir escort
- Korsan taksi Antalya


eskişehir escort
- Korsan taksi Antalya