The Gilded Age

By: Polgara Rogalla

John D. Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller (July 8, 1839 – May 23, 1937) was an American business magnate and philanthropist.

He was a co-founder of the Standard Oil Company, which ruled the oil industry and was the first U.S. business trust.

Standard Oil quickly became the richest refiner in Ohio. It grew to become one of the largest shippers of oil and kerosene in the country.

In 1870, he co-founded Standard Oil Company and aggressively ran it until he retired in 1897.

John Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Company, became so rich so fast because he was a ruthless business man. He would rapidly buy out other oil companies until his was the last company to buy from.

"I have been so constantly under the necessity of watching the movements of the most unprincipled set of pirates I have ever known, that all my time has been occupied in defense, in putting evidence into something like legal shape that I am the inventor of the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph!! Would you have believed it ten years ago that a question could be raised on that subject?" -Samuel F.B. Morse

Samuel F.B. Morse (April 27, 1791 – April 2, 1872) was an American painter who turned inventor. After establishing his reputation as a painter, Morse contributed to the invention of a telegraph system based on European telegraphs.

He was the developer of the Morse Code, and helped to develop the commercial use of telegraphy.

In 1825 New York City had commissioned Morse to paint a portrait of Lafayette, then visiting Washington, DC. While Morse was painting, a horse messenger delivered a letter from his father that read, "Your dear wife is convalescent".

The next day he received a letter from his father telling about his wife's death. Morse immediately left Washington for his home at New Haven, leaving the portrait of Lafayette unfinished.

By the time he arrived, his wife had already been buried. Heartbroken that for days he was unaware of his wife's failing health and her death, he decided to explore a means of rapid long distance communication.

Picture: Sweatshops: Workin' 'Em To Death

"Sweatshops" is a negative term for any workplace considered to be unacceptably difficult or dangerous.

Sweatshop workers often work long hours, regardless of laws mandating overtime pay or a minimum wage. Child labor laws may be violated. Employees may be subject to employer abuse without any way to protect themselves.

Many workplaces throughout history have been crowded, dangerous, low-paying and without job security.

But the concept of a sweatshop originated between 1830 and 1850 as a specific type of workshop in which a certain type of middleman.

Employers often used the sweatshop method (cruel though it may be) to get as much work done in as little time as possible.

Chinese Laborers

Chinese labor was nessecary to the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, which linked the railway network of the Eastern United States with California on the Pacific coast.

The well organized Chinese teams turned out to be exceedingly efficient; at the peak of the construction work, shortly before completion of the railroad, more than 11,000 Chinese were involved with the project.

The route laid not only had to go across rivers and canyons, which had to be bridged, but also through two mountain ranges - the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains - where tunnels had to be made.

Construction began in 1863 at the points of Omaha, Nebraska and Sacramento, California, and the two sections were merged and ceremonially completed on May 10, 1869, at the famous "golden spike" event at Promontory Point, Utah.

Since there was a lack of white European construction workers, in 1865 a large number of Chinese workers were recruited from the silver mines.