Big Business After the Civil War

by Lexi Daniel

Business Growth

There were many different factors leading to the growth of business after the Civil War.

  • Technology- New technology gave easier access to natural resources and increased production. The increase of new technology helped businesses boom after the Civil War.

  • Transportation- The increase of transportation made it easier for merchants to reach markets. Also, the population increase from new methods of transportation gave companies more laborers to work in businesses.

  • Petroleum- The discovery of petroleum in Western Pennsylvania lead to a rapid increase of business. It was found that burning petroleum could produce heat and light and that it could be used to lubricate machinery, making it a valuable resource for industry.
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Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie was a leading figure in the growth of the steel industry. In 1865, he began investing in an iron industry. He built a steel plant near Pittsburgh and began working his way up the steel industry. Using vertical integration, a method where you acquire companies that provided the equipment and services that you needed, he bought iron and coal mines, warehouses, ore ships, and railroads to gain control of the business. By 1890, Carnegie had dominated the steel industry and in 1900, he was producing 1/3 of the nation's steel.
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The Restriction of Big Business

By 1900, 1/3 of all American manufacturing was being controlled by only 1 percent of the country's corporations. Since most of the businesses were being dominated by a few select corporations, there was a lack of competition among businesses. This lack of competition was said to hurt consumers, since without competition, companies didn't have any reasons to reduce prices or improve their goods or services.

In the 1800's, the states passed laws against combining businesses, but corporations still avoided these laws by doing business with states without them. In 1890, Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act, which was created "to protect trade and commerce against unlawful restraint and monopoly". However, this act didn't clearly define "trusts" or "monopoly", and at first, did little good to prevent the combining of businesses.

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