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> Chapter 24 > Prepare for Class
Prepare For Class

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Chapter Summary


Aided by government subsidies and loans, the first transcontinental rail line was completed in 1869, soon followed by others. This rail network opened vast new markets and prompted industrial growth. The power and corruption of the railroads led to public demands for regulation, which was only minimally begun.

New technology and forms of business organization led to the growth of huge corporate trusts. Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller led the way in the steel and oil industries. Initially, the oil industry supplied kerosene for lamps; it eventually expanded by providing gasoline to fuel automobiles. Cheap steel transformed industries from construction to rail building, and the powerful railroads dominated the economy and reshaped American society.

The benefits of industrialization were unevenly distributed. The South remained in underdeveloped dependence, while the industrial working class struggled at the bottom of the growing class divisions of American society. Increasingly transformed from independent producers and farmers to dependent wage earners, Americas workers became vulnerable to illness, industrial accidents, and unemployment.

Workers attempts at labor organization were generally ineffective. The Knights of Labor disappeared after the Haymarket bombing. Gompers founded the AF of L to organize skilled craft laborers but ignored most industrial workers, women, and blacks.



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