Economic Transformations in Industrial America

  • Knights of Labor formed

    This union became very successful around 1885, and allowed the laborers a much stronger voice, strengthening their economic position. They were toppled by the Haymarket Square incident that associated them with violent Anarchists, but they set the stage for future unions.
  • The Transcontinental Railroad is completed

    The Transcontinental Railroad was completed, opening the way for real commerce between the east coast manufacturers and Asia. Only about 400 years after Columbus set out to find a western route to India, but there's something to be said for persistance.
  • Black Friday

    Fisk and Gould drove the price of gold up, forcing the Treasury to step in.
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    The dollars per capita decreased by about 0.5% over this period.
  • Montgomery Ward sends out their first catalog

    Signaling the start of the new rural mail - order economy, this implies the cash-cropping of farmers, as opposed to the former subsistence-farming model.
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    Panic of 1873

    Overbuilding of infrastructure and overproduction crash the credit-based economy. 15,000 companies go bankrupt, including the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company.
  • Standard Oil Company Formed

    Rockefeller used the board of his company to effectively control smaller oil companies. The trust became one of the major tools of monopoly.
  • Wabash vs. Illinois

    The Supreme Court ruled that states could not govern interstate commerce, effectively removing much of their power over interstate corporations.
  • Interstate Commerce Act

    Placed restrictions on the railroad companies, and set up the Interstate Commerce Commission - in some ways merely covering up the underlying problem, but simultaneously stabilizing the current system. It was the first attempt of the government to control the private economy on any large scale.
  • Gospel of Wealth published

    Andrew Carnegie's Gospel of Welath published, extolling the virtues of collecting vast wealth, and the responsisbility of the wealthy to redistribute the wealth to the less fortunate. This basically morally justified the economic trend toward concentration of wealth.
  • Sherman Antitrust Act

    This prevented all trusts. The law proved ineffectual for it's original intent, but prevented the formation of unions. Eventually it was actually given some power to back up the intent of the law.
  • McKinley Tariff Act of 1890

    The "Billion-Dollar Congress" passes the highest tariff to the highest peactime level ever, attempting to protect local industry. This forces American - based agricultural exporters to buy overpriced goods from local industry.
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    Depression of 1893

    Agricultural depression combined with overbuilding (again) crashed the American economy. About 8,000 buisnesses collapsed in 6 months.
  • Repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act

    Stops the loss of gold from the Treasury, which was a treat to the international trade of America, but was insufficent in and of itself to fix the deficit.
  • J.P. Morgan's Gold Loan

    A loan from J.P. Morgan shores up the Treasury - for a considerable fee. This helps restore international trade.