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The Rise of Corporate America

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Essay title: The Rise of Corporate America

Since the end of the Civil War, corporations have taken the United States by storm; but, at what cost? As with any revolution, there are positive and negative effects. While Capitalism surged into urban America, family businesses struggled to survive, immigrants searched for "the American Dream," and farmers toiled into debt. However, this rise of industry did not prove to only benefit an elite few; many beneficial programs were launched as a result of this laborious time in history. While the United States is notorious for the indigenous start and success of the corporate world, its organization and regulation are the result of the greatest collaboration of the races, fueled by years of immoral oppression, the nation had ever had.

Although the long-term benefits of this burgeon rise of the industry overshadow the short-term benefits, advantages erroneously aided in the construction of corporate monopolies. Many conveniences, such as the telephone, telegraph, and railroad system, were introduced in conjunction with expanding urban population. At the start of the rise of industry, laborers and farmers celebrated these advancements in society. As a result of these improvements in communication and transportation, dominating businesses were able to mass produce, transport with added ease and distance, thus, offering the consumer a cheaper, stable price. These benefits to the working class awarded the formation of corporations.

Consequently, power shifted from interdependent communities to national markets, affecting urban and rural infrastructure and life. Because corporations prospered over family businesses, entire families were forced to work long hours in dangerous conditions performing unskilled labor. Although unhealthy, many workers claimed to be "satisfied with sixty hours a week," minimal time needed to pay for living expenses. Even with entire families working, including children as young as six years old, immigrant families, in particular, were unable to meet the cost of living with unequal pay. Furthermore, the necessity of extra wages for their family forced children out of the classroom and into factories, leaving many children uneducated.

While children were left underdeveloped, technology and management soared, resulting in increased productivity, decreased demand for workers and farmers alike. Farmers, unable to afford the new machines, could either form an indentured debt with the corporate-controlled banks or move to the cities. As a result, farmers were forced to move to the industrious cities while unemployment reached 20% in 1893.

As employment rates decreased, cheap labor increased, and work conditions worsened, the gap in social classes increased to the point that "only the rich were secure." This inequality forced laborers to unite and collectively protest, thus forming unions nationwide. Although many unions discriminated against certain members, others lobbied for "solidarity among all who toiled for a living," the motto of the Knights of Labor. Because the Knights of Labor impartially accepted laborers, it became one of the largest unions in the United States raising "an awareness of common interests." Although racial injustice was still a factor, prejudices were shelved to deal with workers' concerns.

As rapid as workers were forming unions, companies were penalizing their employees for joining them. When workers went on strike, because of the high unemployment rate, they could easily be replaced. The working class could not afford to protest for decent pay and working conditions; many of them returned to the factory. Despite the record number of strikes that occurred in the late 19th century, the working class remained disgruntled.

At the same time industry workers were forming unions, farmers united to form the Farmer's Alliance, fighting for greater government regulation, particularly over

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