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Industrialization And The Rise Of Big Business: America's Transformation Into An Economic Superpower

2663 words - 11 pages

From the period of 1870 to 1900, the United States became one of the world'sstrongest and growing industrial nations. An industrial revolution that had begun with themanufacture of cotton and woolen textiles had, by the beginning of the 20th, transformedthe production of most everyday goods. Ranging from food, clothing, appliances, andautomobiles, the enormous output of industrial production led to the rise of big businessas it coordinated methods of distribution and sales to forge an infrastructure for consumerculture. The rise of corporations, such as Carnegie Steel, J.P. Morgan, and Standard Oil,in the late 1800's, was able to dramatically shape the country politically, socially, andeconomically and even continues to do so today through new modern finance andmonopolies.Industrial growth was mainly fueled by a surplus in resources, immigration andtherefore cheap labor, and major technological advances that expanded the capabilities ofvarious industries. As technological advances transformed production and distribution, awave of inventions, including the typewriter, light bulb, and automobile led into newindustries. Through this boom in business, leaders learned how to operate many differentfinancial activities throughout the nation. Ultimately, they were able to become larger andthe modern corporation was "born" into one of the most important roles in the future ofbusiness.These corporations seemed "new" for many people in the country, but corporationsactually date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, where they were used by royalty andgovernments to organize exploration and possible colonization. Many businessmen andpoliticians had been suspicious of the corporation from the time it first emerged in thelate 16th century. Unlike the partnership form of business, which dealt with a smallamount of people on a personal level, the corporation separated ownership frommanagement. In Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, he warns that because managerscould not be trusted to steward "other people's money", "negligence and profusion"would eventually result when businesses organized as corporations. In 1811, New Yorkbecame the first state that passed legislation concerning protocol and procedure forbecoming a corporation, and other states eventually adapted this as well. Corporationswere well suited to meet the demands of the Industrial Revolution, which generated agiant increase in business opportunities which, in hand, required massive amounts ofmoney but "over the last 150 years the corporation has risen from relative obscurity tobecome the world's dominant economic institution" (Bakan 5)."The genius of the corporation as a business form, and the reason for itsremarkable rise over the last three centuries, was-and is-its capacity to combine thecapital, and thus the economic power, of unlimited numbers of people" (Bakan 9). Ascorporations become more powerful and fuel development of large-scale industry, theyaffect politics. The men idolized by some and...

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