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American History

1.What fueled the growth of the post-Civil War economy?

It happened because of the second industrialization of the economy. In its turn, the Second Industrial Revolution was promoted by the establishment of the wide national communication and transportation systems, the further advancement of scientific research, as well as electric power exploitation. Besides, the economic progress was facilitated by the actions of the government, which set increased tariffs on imported goods.

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2. What roles were played by leading entrepreneurs like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and J. Pierpont Morgan?

They all catalyzed economic growth by the simple promotion of big businesses. These new entrepreneurs were extremely talented in running their businesses and controlling industries. For example, Rockefeller took control of almost every oil pumping machine, mainly with the help of holding companies and trusts. Carnegie, who dominated the steel industry due to the previous purchases of struggling companies, considered that both people and industries could only benefit from strong competition. J. Piermont Morgan eventually became a transportation and steel magnet as he bought out the interests of Carnegie in the steel industry and owned most of the national railroad system.

3. Who composed the labor force of the period, and what were labor’s main grievances?

For the most part, the labor force consisted of unskilled workers, especially immigrants as well as women and children who had just started to work. They were concerned about severe working conditions and environment, low wages, and childish work.

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4. What led to the rise of labor unions?

In general, it was quite difficult to organize the fruitful activities of unions as they mainly consisted of unskilled workers. There were a lot of manifestations and strikes because immigrants worked desperately. In turn, employers often appealed to the military forces to calm strikers. However, whereas skilled workers composed the American Federation of Labor, the interests of unskilled ones remained unprotected. Eventually, the need for the representation of the rights and interests of unskilled workers led to the emergence of labor unions.

5. What factors account for the dramatic growth in business the Civil War?

There are three key reasons for quick business growing after the period of the Civil War. First, it turned to the use of coal power. It allowed producing huge quantities of goods at lower prices. Second, owing to improvements made in the transportation system, companies were able to distribute their products to the most distant national markets. Third, the growth was caused by the establishment of the stock market, investment houses, as well as commercial banks that increased the flows of capital into the country.

6. Trace the development and completion of the first transcontinental railroad.

Before the 1850s, only 9,000 miles of track crossed the territory of the USA. By the end of the 1860s, it rapidly increased to 30,000. In the beginning, they mainly covered the territory of the Northeast, but then they expanded on the territories of the Midwest. Congress started its actions facilitating the construction of the road system only in 1840. It was especially accelerated by the discovery of gold in California, which needed to be transported. However, construction was postponed due to the outbreak of the Civil War. In the 1870s, Congress issued laws granting large amounts of money for the creation of the railroad system.

Later, considering promising business opportunities, two companies decided to participate in the construction of railroads due to land grants promised by the government. Because of the natural peculiarities of the Central Pacific Region, the building process was slowed down a bit. In the future, the two parts of the railroad constructed by two different companies were connected that eventually caused the settlement of the West.

7. Describe Andrew Carnegie’s philosophy concerning big business growth and how this reflected the wisdom of some Americans.

Andrew Carnegie introduced the concept of a self-made man who could achieve his/her goals through hard and honest work. It inspired thousands of Americans to start own business projects to realize their dreams and intentions. Belief in a better future ensured by hard work and vigorous mind led to the rapid rise of many start-ups all over the territory of the country.

8. What factors shaped the growth of labor unions during this period?

During this period, some people were arrested for breaking laws prohibiting street manifestations. However, the response was quite simple: the number of protesters rose together with the number of arrested people. It became too expensive for the town to afford a large number of arrested persons. Finally, people got their right to free speech and organization.

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9. Compare the aims and achievements of the Knights of Labor, the American Federation of Labor, and the Industrial Workers of the World.

All of these organizations aimed at protecting workers’ interests by the introduction of equal pay, the eight-hour or shorter working day, and the prohibition of child labor. The Knights of Labor also fought for the government ownership of communication systems, a graduated income tax, etc. The American Federation of Labor demanded the improvement of working conditions. It played a substantial role in determining the modern labor market. The International Workers of the World was a unique labor union, mainly due to its ability to unite workers from different industries all over the country.

10. Railroad expansion in the latter half of the nineteenth century changed everything in America. Discuss how these railroads were financed. Who were the people behind the expansion?

The government indeed facilitated the building process as it passed laws granting huge sums of money for the construction of the railroad. Besides, it granted land tracts for its location. On the other hand, owing to money promising opportunities, two big companies accepted the challenge and engaged in the process of railroad transportation system creation.

11. Describe the technological advancements that were made in the post–Civil War era. How did these advancements contribute to the expansion of America’s industrial revolution?

One of the vital technological advancements introduced during this period was the creation of railroads. There was certain progress in agriculture, mainly due to the efforts of James Oliver, who managed to create the chilled-iron buster, which enabled the cultivation of Great Planes. The establishment of the railroad fastened distribution processes and made it possible for producers to reach the most distant areas of the country. Strong emphasis on historically important agriculture helped create new job places and strengthen the economy in total.

12. Compare and contrast the major industrial leaders of the late nineteenth century. How did each rise to power, and what did they do to ensure they would stay at the top of their respective industries?

Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Robber Barons, and John D. Rockefeller were the main industrial leaders of the nineteenth century. Most of them came from poor families, lacked money and opportunities, and therefore took up an offer or challenge that was brought to them. Being afraid of hard work, they eventually took control of the oil, steel, and railroad industries. To preserve their dominating conditions, industrial leaders used different more or less honest methods. For example, Andrew Carnegie tried to remove all competitors from his market share. Others introduced certain innovations that differentiated their products from others.

13. Discuss the various major strikes that occurred after the Civil War. Include the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, the Homestead strike, and the Pullman strike. What were the similarities and differences between each?

A lot of strikes were caused by a variety of reasons, among which were low wages, a high unemployment rate, child work, etc. The Great Railroad Strike, which occurred mainly due to a decrease in wages, did not last long. However, its strikers were on the whole territory of the USA. Therefore, the strike was nationwide. The Homestead strike was also started by the workers of the steel industry whose wages had been repeatedly shortened due to a decrease in steel prices. Finally, the Pullman strike was caused by wage cuts introduced by Pullman as well as the disagreement of the latter to communicate with the employees’ union. All strikes were suppressed.

14. Describe the growth of radicalism in America’s unions after the Civil War. What were the driving forces pulling the unions to the left, and how successful were they?

The main reason for the strikes was wage cuts, which sometimes reached the point of 25-30 %. Certainly, it led to the dissatisfaction of workers who were demanded to work even harder to meet the needs of mass production. All strikes were eventually suppressed by the military forces.

Part II

1. How did life in the South change politically, economically, and socially after the Civil War?

The New South was regarded as a new perfect democracy, free of slavery and agriculture. It started to introduce industrial sector improvements alongside ones in the sphere of agriculture, which remained to be important for the region. The main achievement was related to the expansion of the textile as well as the tobacco industries. Although the South remained less urbanized and industrialized, its inhabitants eventually reconciled traditions and customs with the needed innovations.

2.What happened to Native Americans as white settled the West?

They started to suffer as the newcomers pushed them off their native lands. These activities were often accompanied by the rivers of blood caused by the fights between the native population and the US Army. Afterward, a lot of efforts were made to assimilate these people by destroying their culture. At first, the US Government just moved them to reservations, and then, they started assimilation.

3.What were the experiences of farmers, cowboys, and miners in the West?

Life in the West was one of the hardest, but people were attracted by the lure of wealth and cheap lands. However, the majority of cowboys did not enrich as not everyone was successful at mining and raising cattle. The population was extremely diverse as it consisted of Americans, Europeans, Chinese, African Americans, etc.

4.How did mining affect the development of the West?

Mining was a money promising venture that lured a lot of desperate people to the settlement. It promoted the creation of new states and territories, which later joined the Union.

5.How important was the concept of the frontier to America’s political and diplomatic development?

The historian F. J. Turner was confident that the frontier made Americans an individualistic, energetic, democratic, and practical nation. He also mentioned that the close of the frontier meant the end of the first stage of American history.

6.One of the goals of the New South prophets was diversified agriculture. What factors stood in the way of this goal?

There were a lot of reasons. First, most farmers were unsuccessful in their ventures so that a new approach to running a business in the agricultural sphere was to be introduced. The prices of crops were extremely high that even worsened the situation and made it more difficult to own land. A lot of Southern people had to abandon their private ownership and become tenants or sharecroppers.

7.In what ways did the Bourbons’ emphasis on the economy affect the South?

The Bourbons are regarded as those who saved the South from complete reliance upon the rural economy. Despite their intentions to industrialize the economy, Southerners still placed a strong emphasis on agriculture, which was historically important for the land.

8.Describe the pattern of race relations in the South from the end of Reconstruction to 1900.

The color of the skin was perpetuated and regarded with less attention than before. In some places, such as hotels, schools, and churches, it was so. However, the line between blacks and whites was impressive in common public places, such as theaters, depots, trains, cafes, etc.

9.One might say that the West consisted of three frontiers: the miners, the cowboys, and the farmers. What problems did each of these groups face?

Each group was relatively poor and had to move to other inhabited territories in search of a better life. They were not demanded by the labor market. Just as miners signed up for the work in uncertain gold mines, farmers had to move to new places to set up a farm that did not always become a successful venture. All of them lacked skills and work.

10.Describe the government’s policy toward Indians. How did this policy develop over the years, and what were the main factors that influenced its development?

At first, the government decided just to remove them from the occupied territories to reservations. Usually, it was accompanied by fights and violence as the local inhabitants did not voluntarily abandon their homes. After the replacement process was over, the government introduced a policy aimed at the assimilation of Indians and the destruction of their aboriginal culture.

11.Describe the effect the pervasive use of tenancy and sharecropping had on the environment.

Sharecropping, which meant that the same crops were grown on the same soil every year, eventually led to the leaching of nutrients from the ground. Tenants were unwilling to care about soil conditions because the land was not theirs. To raise goods production, they widely used phosphate, which accelerates the depletion of the soil.

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12.Discuss the systematic disenfranchising of blacks in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

After the Civil War, a new generation of black people appeared. They were not going to endure the suffering and humiliation of their co-brothers any longer. Instead, they were going to stand for true equality. On the other hand, whites wanted everything to remain in place. Owing to divergences in views and beliefs, whites divided into many groups. It eventually led to a situation where blacks determined the results of the voting, for example. However, later, they were denied the right to vote due to the Fifth Amendment. Blacks also could not vote if they had a criminal record or did not pay the poll tax beforehand.

13.Compare and contrast the philosophies of Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois. What were the similarities and differences of their approaches to the conditions of blacks?

Booker T. Washington did not claim that the rights and opportunities of blacks and whites had to be equal. He considered that the best way for blacks was to escape from poverty. To help blacks find jobs, he even established the Tuskegee college where they could study free of charge. However, W. E. B. Du Bois supposed that blacks and whites had to be equal. He also asserted that blacks had to be integrated into American political, economic, and cultural life more deeply. He truly believed that blacks could and had to rise and become leaders.

14.How did the nature of mining change in the second half of the nineteenth century, and what impact did these changes have on the environment?

In the second half of the nineteenth century, mining became a mass-production industry that led to the exhaustion of the environment. Miners dug only the upper layers of the land, damaging soil fertility. Dredging, hydraulic fracturing, shaft mining, and so forth extremely changed the vast areas of the landscape. A lot of dirt that was expropriated from the soil remained on the fruitful farmers’ land.

15.Describe the special problems that settlers on the frontier faced, focusing on the conditions that women faced as they settled west.

It was rather hard for frontiersmen to adjust to new climate conditions that were, in fact, inconsistent with good and productive farming business. There was a scarcity of water and other resources. Much of the territory was covered with deserts. Women continued to play a second role in the family. They were responsible for pioneering life, breeding children, keeping the house clean, etc. Life in the West significantly improved after the discovery of gold and silver mines.

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