American History

Question 1

Railroads have been described as ‘big business’ by Porter because they formed an intricate part of the first major transportation system that oversaw the growth of other sectors of the economy. As the first transportation system within the US that was faster than other means of transportation, it opened up other rural areas in America to commerce at the time. It was the catalyst that had changed villages into towns and towns into cities. It expanded the ability and the efficiency of America to engage in commerce, especially after the first transcontinental railroad. The development of these railways was a major cause in the changes from wagon trains to the modern transportation system.

Railroads were big businesses because they were the major accelerators and facilitators of the American industrialization. Glen Porter elaborates that because of the development of railways by companies such as Union Pacific Railroad, the pace of industrialization in America picked up and they led to the reduction of costs in transportation.

Thirdly, railroads were big business because they influenced and created corporations, whose conduct led to laws that govern businesses today. The rise and fall of monopolies in the railroad and oil sector was a major cause in the changes within the economy. During this time, it was common for larger business firms owned by the influential businessmen like Rockefeller to buy and even forcefully acquire companies. Rockefeller is mentioned because he was an influential figure in the formation of monopolies. 

Finally, railroads were big business because they were the gateway to other channels of innovation. As a direct result of the railroads’ development, innovation that led to the development of automobiles and the shift from railroads, was started. Other notable innovations include the electric bulb and electricity that saw a shift from using kerosene to light up houses. In addition, during this innovative period oil was discovered comprise more than one fraction, which made it even more valuable. Carnegie, however, is well known for this because he donated more than $350 million into charities and learning institutions.

Question 2

The most significant commentary by the three, Franklin, Barnum, and Carnegie, was their inclination towards societal giving back. The three had a viewpoint about getting rich and giving to the public. For instance, despite owning vast amounts of wealth, Carnegie and Barnum were known for their influence at philanthropists. Carnegie was known for his donations to schools and the establishment of libraries. However, to Barnum, philanthropy was good as long as it was properly incentivized through a rewards system. Franklin, on the other hand, subtly supported philanthropy within thirteen virtues of character cultivation that included frugality. That is, the virtue to avoid wastage expenses unless they are meant to do good to both oneself and others. Finally, all the three had concurrent viewpoints on innovation and being industrious. They constantly suggested individuals to be constantly innovative and industrious.

Philanthropy in the 21st century has not changed from the perspectives employed by the three above-mentioned individuals. In 2016, philanthropy is big business but it also helps the underprivileged in society. Furthermore, donations to charity organizations such as Cancer Research have the potential of benefiting both the donor and charity through the discovery of new causes of cancer, its prevention, and new methods of treatment. Albeit rich individuals still give honestly, as Carnegie did, Barnum’s idea of incentivizing philanthropy is still appreciated because in modern day, charity organizations such as Red Cross and Cancer Research remit huge sums of money to their employees despite their philanthropic inclination. Despite this reward system, Red Cross is a worldwide renowned organization that has shaped how people donate to help the disadvantaged in society. Finally, industriousness and innovation have formed part of the 21st century with advances in science and technology. In 2016, for instance, there has been the development of Apple similar to Carnegie’s innovations in expanding his influence in the steel industry. 

Question 3

The Constitution and its interpretation under John Marshall

John Marshall was at the forefront of enacting laws and he oversaw the development of independence within the judiciary system. The American legal system he, as the Chief justice, had initiated was critical during the great de-monopolization campaign that occurred in the 1900s, and prior to this, the laws that allowed companies to buy shares and acquire other companies. His interpretation of the Constitution was highly inclined towards the superiority of federal laws over state laws. In his rulings, he established new viewpoints that transformed taxation of organizations both private and federal owned and that federal courts could overhear appeals from state courts.

This laid the foundation work for taxation laws and amendments that were to affect new organizations and dismantle monopolies as the American economy grew in the 20th century. He was also known for his constitutional interpretation that saw the creation of United States second bank. This bank became an integral part in share trading, thus providing capital for the American manufacturing economy. Furthermore, the superiority of federal law over state law as envisioned and interpreted by John Marshall laid ground for the interpretation of the formation of monopolies and corporations.

The Transportation Revolution

The transport revolution saw the expansion of the railroad system. The cheap transport allowed by this system opened up other sectors of the economy such as the steel industry, which provided the steel to build the railways, and the labor industry in both the manufacturing and processing industries. Because of the interdependency that existed between these manufacturing industries, including the oil industry, the tendencies to merge and acquire other related companies began to grow. The railroad system influenced the prices of steel and labor by directly raising and lowering transportation costs. Thus, the manufacturing industries began to initiate and implement such mechanisms as hostile take-overs that saw one industry forcefully gain control of the other.

Question 4

Glenn Porter assumes qualitative growth to be in association with quantitative growth in the manufacturing industry. The qualitative feature of such manufacturing corporations was sheer influence they asserted on each other. Thus, the necessity to work closely into effecting and facilitating each other agendas appeared. This necessity lays the groundwork for the emergency of conglomerates that control and influence each other’s scope in the manufacturing economy.

The other notable feature of manufacturing industries was in their transformational nature, especially when they competed among themselves. Porter states that such a healthy state of competition has led to the formation and growth of modern day advertisement and consumerism associated with the manufacturing industry. This transformational nature has also seen most manufacturing companies diversify and segment their market scope and derive innovate ways to associate with other corporations to keep and increase the control on their scope.

Thirdly, due to their size, Porter elaborates that manufacturing companies had to attract a large number of investors to provide the necessary capital to the industry. This led to the formation of stock trading to allow the investors invest in a company based on its performance, on the number of employees it had, the ability and efficiency at rebuilding itself and maintaining its large factories.

Finally, Porter notes among other thing that such business industries have a distinct separation between management and ownership, which makes them different from their predecessors. Investors own the company collectively but they have little influence on running it. Furthermore, the professionals employed are salaried and coordinated under an elaborate management structure to oversee the different activities of the company.

Question 5

What enabled the expansion of slavery in the period?

The expansion of slavery was highly facilitated by the demand in slaves that were to form the major source of labor in the plantations all over the USA. They were preferred because of their cheap ‘maintenance costs’ and efficiency at work. It was particularly evident during the expansion of the cotton industry in the Southern states. Furthermore, the expansion of slavery westward and the new nation growth were facilitated by the state laws that associated the African ancestry under the slave status. This prompted slave owning because the law supported it. Despite the prohibiting laws that came in the early 19th century, slaves were traded significantly and their number continued to increase, reaching more than 1 million individuals in the Southern states because the economies of these states were heavily reliant on slave labor for their cotton plantations. For 20 years after the American constitution had been first drafted, it was forbidden to change the law on slave trade. Thereafter, slave expansion was seen as a political issue between the North and the South and their fight for the competitive influence based on the territories that allowed slavery and struggle for gaining influence in Congress. The South sought to engage more states to allow slavery to increase its influence over the North in Congress.

The claim:

The claim that slave plantations were fundamental to the American economy during the periods between the Revolution and the Civil War is justified. However, this significantly applied to the Southern states because the majority of the Northern states continuously began to establish and implement the abolitionist laws that saw the existence of a higher proportion of free labor in the Northern states. Despite this, the slave trade economy in the period between the Revolution and the Civil War was a vast and complex economy that led to the transformation of agriculture - tobacco and cotton growing, especially the latter.