"A People's History of the United States" Ch. 11 Reflection

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A People’s History of the United States: Reflection Chapter 11 Robber Barons and Rebels This chapter focuses on the advancement in technology and production after the Civil War and before the year 1900. It details a time when “steam and electricity replaced human muscle, iron replaced wood, and steel replaced iron” (Zinn 253). The world was being revolutionized, and quickly. New machines and contraptions soon began to replace human muscle and pump out products faster. It was times like these that inventors, organizers, and administrators dominated. They could hire poor immigrants from Europe and China and make a new work force. In addition, farmers unable to afford the new technology would move to the cities to find work, which led to mass increase in city population. People like Thomas Edison, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie appeared on the scene and were some of the first, and certainly the most famous, to take advantage of the situation. They profited immensely, “and so it went, in industry after industry—shrewd, efficient businessmen building empires, choking out competition, maintaining high prices, keeping wages low, using government subsidies. These industries were the first beneficiaries of the ‘welfare state’,” (Zinn 257). And so began the first leanings of America towards a capitalist government. I was not entirely surprised by the events laid out in this chapter. This is getting into the Industrial Revolution, a time where big business controlled the way millions lived and worked. Production was up and spirits were down. Business was booming and conditions got worse. Populations as well as prices skyrocketed. The U.S. was truly stepping up its game, but at a cost. Entire groups of people were slighted and mistreated, but this led to the formation of unions and groups of people who worked for and wanted the same thing.

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