USII.3d Study Guide
Growth of Big Business, Industry, and Migration from Farms to Cities

WHITE PRINT - Content outline from the VDOE curriculum guide BLACK  PRINT - Additional information


The student will demonstrate knowledge of how life changed after the Civil War by

d)     explaining the rise of big business, the growth of industry, and life on American farms.

Between the Civil War and World  War I, the United States was transformed from an agricultural to an industrial nation.

What created the rise in big business?

     National markets created by transportation advances A single manufacturer could use railroads and canals to ship goods to markets all around the U.S.
     Captains of industry

John D. Rockefeller, oil
Rockefeller's Standard Oil owned each step in the  oil production process from the drilling operations to the gas station pumps. He took over rival companies and made them part of his trusts.
Andrew Carnegie, steel By using the latest technology and watching costs, Carnegie priced his steel below competitors. By 1900 he owned the world's largest industrial corporation - Carnegie Steel.
Learn more about Andrew Carnegie
Henry Ford, automobile  
Model T - click to enlarge
Ford increased output in the auto industry with standardized machine-made parts and assembly line production.


Click image to enlarge

In order to  increase sales, manufacturers began to develop strategies to advertise their products.

This ad is for Madame Nordica's Bath Powder for Reduction of Weight. Click on the image to enlarge it.

     Lower-cost production Big businesses could lower the cost of production with new technologies like assembly lines, standardized interchangeable parts, and the Bessemer process for making steel. Economies of scale gave them a distinct advantage in using these technologies.

What are some examples of big business during this era?


      click to enlarge

At first, railroads were developed by hundreds of small companies, but soon they started to drive each other out of business. Railroad barons bought up the smaller lines and created nationwide rail systems that used the same equipment and same size track.
       Oil Rockefeller's Standard Oil formed a trust that eliminated any competition in the oil industry. It took over all of the other rival companies and controlled all of the steps in the production process.
     Steel Carnegie prices his steel below the competition and drove others out of business. Later Carnegie steel would become part of U.S. Steel, an even larger corporation formed by J.P. Morgan.

What factors caused the growth of industry in general?


     Access to raw materials and energy
Vast supplies of natural resources had been discovered in the U.S., including food, fuel and minerals. By the late 1800s, railroads carried raw materials like coal and iron ore from the mines to mills in Pittsburgh.
     Availability of work force Industry could not have grown if the U.S. without a large available workforce. A large workforce was available due to 1)  a huge influx of immigrants, which caused the U.S. population to triple between 1860 and 1910, and 2) increased migration to the cities from southern farms, where mechanization was decreasing the need for labor.
     Inventions The new Bessemer process allowed coal and iron to be converted cheaply to steel, and steel fueled the growth of other industries.  Other inventions included sewing machines which led to a huge textile industry in New England, the telegraph and telephone which enable better communication, and hydroelectric power plants for electricity.
    Financial resources During this prosperous period, money was available to fund new industries.

How did industrialization and the rise in big business influence life on American farms?

Postwar changes in farm and city life:

     Mechanization (e.g., the reaper) had reduced farm labor needs and increased production. The reaper, for example,  could do the work of ten men. Mechanization meant fewer men were needed on the farms. Farm production still increased, and food was available to feed the city workforce. This was the beginning of a long period of migration from rural areas to the cities.
     Industrial development in cities created increased labor needs. Farm laborers saw better opportunities in the cities. Increased demand for labor in the cities meant higher wages.
     Industrialization provided access to consumer goods (e.g., mail order) More consumer goods were produced and they became increasingly available in cities. But rural customers were also able to buy goods from catalogs and have them shipped via mail order.