The rise of big business after the American Civil War can be attributed to widespread technological developments. Pre-Civil War and Post Civil War can be contrasted drastically over the topic of big business. Before the Civil War American economy had been dependent on rural society. The small business and craftspeople could not sustain the growth of the national market. Thus, the Industrial Revolution began and large corporations were created. As the Civil War ended, the Gilded Age began due to the wealth made from the war.
During the war, the Federal Government provided money to people, creating entrepreneurs with capital to spend. The abolition of slavery also led to more capital being spent in the market than before the Civil War. Postwar tariffs hampered foreign trade competitors but discouraged American exports. The post war government held the practice of laissez faire economics, in which they “left alone” big business allowing it to prosper. Before the Civil War, technologies such as the cotton gin, interchangeable parts and the mower reaper showed a change was imminent.
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New transportation methods such as the steamboat and RR industry were beginning to take off. After the Civil War government aid in building a transcontinental RR helped to encourage the growing industry. The RR provided for big business to ship goods and quickly travel from one place to another and the US became the number one industrial power by the mid 1890’s. The creation of a refrigerator car made it possible to ship beef and pork to national market. Also, inventions such as air brakes for trains, the typewriter and the telephone made it evident the country was no longer agrarian based.
The assembly line was also a new invention and led to quick and efficient manufacturing of goods. The rise of electrical industries due to Thomas Edison also aided the industrial era. The Captains of Industry played a monumental role after the Civil War. Amongst these are Rockefeller, Morgan and Carnegie. Carnegie led the steel industry; while Morgan owned the banking industry and Rockefeller led the oil industry. All three were masters of eliminating competition through vertical and horizontal intergration.
Private owned industry was eliminated and big business had taken over. Corruption was not absent during this rise of big business as theft from the government was a major issue. Gould and Fisk cornered the gold market, and Boss Tweed stole from the New York treasury. The Rise of Big Business was controversial and not supported by all. Yet, it was necessary due to the rapid growth of the market. New technologies aided this growth and the US became the number one Industrial nation.