Segment descriptions
Topics in American History Series:
Business, Part 2

           Description: Business 1

Business, Part 2
      sampler  4-19   (43 lecture)

How is John D. Rockefeller able to create a benign image of himself after being responsible for such events as the Ludlow massacre in the 19-teens?

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19th Century


American business model always toward monopoly.  Buying out competitor, price wars, sabotage, even violence.  Also oligopoly, a few companies agreeing to share a market.  Sometimes line is blurred between oligopoly and monopoly.  Industrialists are dominant forces in the U.S. in last half of the19th century.


The Horatio Alger image and the dream of rags to riches. Thanks to the press and Horatio Alger novels, industrialists are positive role models despite corruption.


The old and the new rich.  The excesses and at times craziness of the new rich. 


John D. Rockefeller's image.  He brutally crushes the striking miners, called the Ludlow Mine Massacre, and counters this negative image with public relations campaign.




20th Century, First Half


Growth of U.S. economic power at end of 19th & beginning of 20th century. The old period of finance capitalism's reliance on banks.  The start of mass production assembly, using applied time and motion studies.  Auto industry has enormous impact on U.S. economy in the 1920s.


The Progressive Era is a reform period but the reality is a partnership between business and the federal government.  How the rhetoric is anti-business but the move toward monopoly increases not decreases.  Theodore Roosevelt's reputation as a "Trust Buster" but his actions actually favor business.  His reputation is champion of labor, but his negotiations in the anthracite coal mine strike of 1902 benefits the business community. 


The 1920s is the first modern decade.  Advertising, credit buying, new industries.  Impact of Lindberg's flight on the aircraft industry.  Enormous profits, unwise real estate speculation. 


The stock market crash of 1929 and the Depression of the 1930s.  The government gives money to business to build jobs but business takes the money and runs.