American History (Corporation And Big Business) – Research Paper Example
# Two developments sparked the rise of Big Business in the mid-1800s: the Industrial Revolution and the building of a vast railroad system. The Industrial Revolution made it possible to mass-manufacture all the parts of the railroad system from the rails to the engines. The railroad spread to almost all corners of the United States, carrying thousands of people and tons of goods long distances in a relatively short amount of time. Because the railroad system was so large, it required management and communication over long distances as well, changing the way Americans thought about work. In fact, the railroad is considered the first big business (Carey, u.d.). Americans moved from working in small enterprises as the usual employment to accepting that each worker was part of a larger entity, Big Business.
Since it cost so much money to build factories, hire dozens or hundreds of workers, and keep the whole business going, Big Business was usually run by the rich and powerful who could leverage either their own fortunes or bankers’ money. In return the business owners sold stock, changing the way Americans viewed business enterprises. While the work itself was performed by other people, anyone with money could invest a small amount in a big business and see a return on investment.
Small big businesses began to consolidate with each other, creating even larger businesses with financial leveraging power and each step of expansion gave rise to new technologies, forms of communication, and additional transportation. From the standpoint of the individual worker, corporations were to be feared and indeed there was a lot of corruption in corporations (Carey, u.d.). Food and goods that had been made locally were now being shipped in from central manufacturing locations or large farms, separating the workers from the products they produced. Individual freedoms were sacrificed to the larger corporate interests. Big businesses also created an income gap.
On the positive side, big business also centralized the work environment and made it easier for massive advancements in technology, communications and transportation, and set up an economy in which almost anyone could find a job.
Carey, Jr., Charles W. (u.d.). “Corporations and Big Business.” Available from Gale Digital Collections. Accessed August 16, 2009 from http://www.gale.cengage.com/DigitalCollections/whitepapers/4_GML33607_Corporations_whtppr.pdf>.