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The Industrial Revolution

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Americans faced many hardships during the turn of the century. As our Nation was adjusting to the new technological advances they were making during the Industrial Revolution, it seems that some people were simply looked over in this new "rat race". There were many problems that accompanied the new century, perhaps one of the largest though, was the expansion and dominance of big businesses. As though it may seem that large businesses may be a good thing, because of our dependence on them today, we simply weren't ready for them a hundred years ago. Many big businesses had created monopolies, used Taylorism, and caused what was called a boom bust economy. These three events also forced many people to try and resolve these problems associated with the tremendous rise of big business.

In search for great power, and the will to expand, many businesses created large monopolies, meaning that all markets are dominated by one or two firms. For example, by 1900, approximately 98% of the oil industry was owned solely by Standard Oil Company. Because Standard Oil owned so much and people depended on this resource, this company could charge a little or as much as they wanted, with no worries of losing business, merely because people had no where else to go. Another problem with monopolies is that it leaves very little room for smaller business to run, so the small business that were once relied upon, are now out of production.

Big companies also used a method called Taylorism to stay in control. Taylorism, named after a man called Fredrick Winslow Taylor, facilitated unskilled labor by copying what skilled labors knew and breaking it down into small simple jobs that anyone can do, much like an assembly line. By using unskilled laborers companies assured their power over the people because they had no skill and could go nowhere else for a job. Even if they tried, it was no problem because they were easy to replace. Also, with this leverage, companies could pay whatever they wanted, leaving the workers underpaid and often extremely poor.

Because of Taylorism, also known as Scientific Management, companies were creating what was called a boom bust economy. With so many people working on products, productivity was soaring thus creating a surplus of goods. As it happens the market didn't always need these products as quickly as they were developed, so every five years or so there was a depression. Basically, supply and demand simply weren't in sync.

After a while many workers realized that this had to stop, especially in regards to their conditions. Not only were they poor but also they suffered atrocious working conditions and unbearably long hours. Once realizing the problems, progressive movements began. They soon recognized that they had rights and they had to be fought for. So, they came up with four steps to improve their conditions.



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