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What New Challenges Did The Rise Of Big Business And The Robber Barons Pose To Established American Beliefs, Practices And Values Between 1850 And 1900?

2528 words - 10 pages

Question: What new challenges did the rise of big business and the Robber Barons pose to established American beliefs, practices and values between 1850 and 1900?

The rise of big business in industrialism and Robber Barons posed towering difficulties over established American beliefs, practices, and values. Its influence greatly affected all aspects of traditional American thought in such a short time that America had to accept and embrace these changes or be swept away. New ideas and customs, such as the science of economics and the perversion of traditional American values into material pursuit, established by industrialism, were primarily practiced by the Robber Barons; but, in order for industrialism to remain profitable, they needed the support of the majority. Therefore, they pushed their ideas to the forefront of everyday American life by controlling public thought through the early media. The main religious thought, embraced in America from 1850-1900, came from various Protestant camps that connected the new industrialist ideas from big business with Scripture. In addition, schools went from the classical teaching method to purely utilitarian schooling, which was designed to churn out machines conformed to the new business world. The government was left as the second greatest power and puppeted by the Robber Barons whims. The values of big business were incorporated into American life through every facet and there was no way to escape its influence.
With the rise of big business and industrialism came a morphing of traditional values and practices into conformity and agreement with the material success that was rocketing through America. "As employment in urban occupations increased, the deeply rooted American hope of getting ahead came to be defined more specifically as success in business." With this new standard of success, namely, in business, came a new standard for most everything. Now, money constituted success and the more a person obtained the more accomplished he was, therefore "wealth became the measure of man's importance and social standing." The technology that allowed these businessmen to become extremely successful, (i.e., being ridiculously rich) and other areas that furthered success in business, such as farsightedness and loyalty to one's company, were hailed by the business leaders as the greatest values in America: "...during the years after 1850 the new scale of development put more value on prestigious positions, loyalty to an organization, scientific knowledge, and long range planning, none of which were widely valued in America of the mid-nineteenth century." Not only was it emphasized upon men that being successful was virtuous and right in corresponding with God's plan for them, but it was "sought to impress upon one and all the view that there was ample room at the top for those who were willing to make the effort" by many leading businessmen or writers of the day such as Benjamin and Henry Wood. With the...

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